Fighting Birth Defects by Choosing a Healthier Lifestyle

Sources: CDC.gov; March Of Dimes

Eating healthy foods, gaining the right amount of weight during pregnancy, and staying active can help keep you and your baby healthy.

A woman who has a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher) before pregnancy is at a higher risk for complications during pregnancy. Obesity also increases a pregnant woman’s risk of several serious birth defects. If a woman is overweight or obese, she should talk with her doctor about ways to reach a healthy weight before she gets pregnant.

Taking a prenatal vitamin along with eating healthy foods can help you get the nutrients that you both need. You can have thoroughly cooked eggs, up to 200 milligrams of caffeine per day (12 oz. coffee), and non-mercury fish such as shrimp, salmon, pollock, catfish, albacore (white) tuna or canned light tuna. Avoid raw meats, fish, and sprouts, and unpasteurized products.

For most pregnant women, it’s safe to exercise if your health provider says it’s OK. You might be able to find a program or health club that offers aerobics and yoga classes just for pregnant women. Or try things you can do with your partner or friends, like walking or dancing. Swimming is a great activity for pregnant women — the water supports the weight of your growing body, and moving against it keeps your heart rate up.

If you exercised before you were pregnant, it’s usually safe to continue your activities — Check with your provider to make sure. As your your belly gets bigger, you may need to change some activities or ease up on your workout. If you didn’t exercise before you were pregnant, start slowly. Try to build up your fitness little by little.

Being active during pregnancy can give you energy, help you relieve stress and help you gain the right amount of weight during pregnancy. It can even help your body get ready for labor and birth!

Do you know your body mass index (BMI)? Calculate it here.

Diet Guidelines Infographic

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