Moms discover diet and exercise during pregnancy equals many health benefits

Moms discover diet and exercise during pregnancy equals many health benefits

The bump at her waist is the only giveaway that Sandi Ware is expecting again for the third time in two and a half years. Otherwise, the 33-year-old occupational-therapist-turned-full-time-mom is in as good or better shape than anyone else pounding the treadmills at 5:30 a.m. at the YMCA of Rockford River Valley. She’ll mix up

The bump at her waist is the only giveaway that Sandi Ware is expecting again for the third time in two and a half years.

Otherwise, the 33-year-old occupational-therapist-turned-full-time-mom is in as good or better shape than anyone else pounding the treadmills at 5:30 a.m. at the YMCA of Rockford River Valley.

She’ll mix up her cardiovascular workout routine with a step mill, elliptical trainer or stationary bike and move on to floor and stability ball exercises until 7 a.m. three to four days a week. Then it’s time for her to return home and resume care of Gabriel and Henry so her husband, Jamey, can go to work but, Ware said, the workouts are her key to a healthy pregnancy.

“My whole philosophy is that, first, it’s for the health of the baby,” Ware said. “With both of the boys, I had no problems such as gestational diabetes or high blood pressure and I attribute that to exercising and eating right.”

Ware, who worked out up to the days she entered the hospital to deliver her sons, said other benefits from exercise are a decrease in her stress level and less morning sickness.

“I also feel like I have a lot more energy, too,” she said. “I’ll hear a lot of women say they’re too tired to exercise during their pregnancy, but I think it’s the exercise that gives you energy and, after having the baby, I don’t want to deal with trying to lose a lot of weight along with the adjustments to having a newborn.”

Dr. Earle M. Pescatore Jr., an obstetrician and gynecologist at the Rock Valley Women’s Center, said he definitely encourages active women to continue their workouts during pregnancy if there are no complications.

“Anything cardiovascular is good — walking, running, even swimming,” Pescatore said. “With biking, we would recommend a stationary bike rather than biking on the street because of balance issues.”

Pescatore said activities that rely on balance should be discontinued about 16 to 20 weeks into the pregnancy “because, as they progress in their pregnancy, their center of gravity is changing almost constantly and they may not quite appreciate that.” He also said hormonal changes that cause ligaments to relax increase the risk of twists and sprains in the joints.

“The big thing is that they’re gaining weight, 15 to 20 or 35 pounds, in a fairly short period of time so they have to be aware that they’re more susceptible.”

Wendy Beggs, a former step aerobics instructor, has four daughters — Chelsea, Arianna, Trinity and Maleah — ages 17 through 4 and said she learned the value of keeping up her exercise levels after she became pregnant the first time.

“With Chelsea, I was very sick,” Beggs, 40, said. “I felt like I didn’t have any energy to do anything, so I lay on the couch and gained a lot of weight. Then, with my second girl, I realize that even if you still didn’t feel that good, you’re still capable of moving about.

“For me, the first three months of a pregnancy was pretty much constant nausea. By the time I was pregnant with Trinity, though, I was working pretty steadily in step aerobics and I found that I felt better once I got up and got moving and the activity actually helped to control the nausea.”

Beggs said she made sure during her workouts to monitor her heart rate and body temperature “because while you can cool down, baby can’t.”

Both women said they change their diets during pregnancy.

Ware said she eats spinach daily for the folic acid, increases the amount of fruits and vegetables she eats, watches her sugar intake and supplements her diet with prenatal vitamins. She said she eats small meals about every two hours and combines proteins and carbohydrates, usually in the form of some kind of whole grain, every time she eats.

“I think women get into trouble a lot of times by listening to people telling them ‘Now you’re eating for two,’ ” Ware said. “You’re really only supposed to need about 300 more calories a day and that amounts to not much more than a yogurt and a banana.”

Beggs said she made sure she increased her fluid intake and increased the amount of fruits and vegetables she ate but, otherwise, “just tried to make sure I made better food choices.”

Pescatore said following healthy habits during pregnancy also offers such advantages as better posture, sleep and mood leading up to delivery.

He said women who are not active before they become pregnant but want to improve their health during pregnancy can begin with some light cardiovascular activity, such as walking.

“It’s important to be active,” he said, “but it’s just not the ideal time to start a heavy schedule of activity.”

Mike DeDoncker can be reached at (815) 987-1382 or mdedoncker@rrstar.com.

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