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The 5 best steps to achieve prenatal health and fitness

June 12th, 2023 | 5 min. read

By Jen Azevedo

Becoming pregnant can be the most exciting time of your life. You are going to be a parent! But this experience is not without questions and concerns.

The most essential topic to focus on is your and your baby’s health. By taking care of yourself, you are not only committing yourself to having the best pregnancy possible, but you are also establishing a nourishing foundation for your growing baby.

There are hundreds of resources available to parents that provide advice about pregnancy. But the literature can be overwhelming — and sometimes even conflicting! 

The Paseo Club is a social club in the Santa Clarita Valley that supports community members in all stages of life, from babies to seniors and everyone in between.

In this article, we will share five basic steps that any mother can use as guidelines for achieving excellent prenatal health and fitness.

pexels-hussein-altameemi-7707315How does pregnancy affect women’s health? 

Pregnancy puts unique demands on a mother’s body. Her caloric and nutritional needs increase, and she needs to navigate her growing body’s need for both activity and rest.

When you're pregnant, your health is more important than ever. You need more essential nutrients than before to support your body’s and your baby’s growth.  

By taking care of your health, you are more likely to have a healthier pregnancy, fewer complications, and a healthy, full-term newborn. 

The 5 best steps to achieve prenatal health and fitness

A healthy diet and exercise will make you feel energetic and help you to avoid many common discomforts and complications of pregnancy. 

 

pexels-shu-lei-138491851. Get regular prenatal care

Pregnant women who receive consistent prenatal care have better outcomes. Babies are born at healthier weights, and are less likely to be born preterm, have fewer incidences of SIDS, respiratory and gastrointestinal issues, and long-term health issues. 

Care should begin at 10-12 weeks of pregnancy and continue until 6 weeks after the baby’s birth.

2. Avoid alcohol and tobacco

We used to not understand how alcohol and smoking affect growing babies. But now we know these substances harm babies mentally and physically and must be avoided during pregnancy and lactation. 

3. Optimize your nutrition

Making smart food choices will help you have a healthier pregnancy and optimize your baby’s development. It will also help support breastfeeding in the postpartum period.

Calories
An average adult woman needs approximately 2,000 calories per day. Her needs increase by 300-500 calories extra per day when pregnant and breastfeeding. Most women achieve this by eating snacks and focusing on nutrient-dense foods with high protein levels and healthy fats. 

pexels-ivan-samkov-7990366-min

Protein

Depending on the research, a pregnant woman should consume 60-80 grams of protein per day. Protein sources include poultry, fish, meats, tofu, dairy, and/or beans with grains. Many women find making a protein smoothie with fresh fruit and whey or pea protein powder is a great way to increase protein intake. 

Folic acid 

Folic acid is a B vitamin that may help prevent certain birth defects. During pregnancy and when breastfeeding, you need 600 mcg per day. Vegetables (especially dark greens), fruits, nuts, beans, peas, seafood, eggs, dairy products, meat, poultry, and grains are rich in folic acid. It is hard to get an adequate quantity of folic acid from foods alone, so most pregnant women supplement.

Iron
Iron is critical to your baby's growth and brain development. During pregnancy, your blood volume increases, so you need more iron to prevent anemia. You should get 27 mg (milligrams) of iron a day. Iron-rich foods include red meat, leafy greens, dried fruit, oats, and legumes.

Calcium
Calcium during pregnancy can reduce your risk of preeclampsia, a serious medical condition that causes a sudden increase in blood pressure. Calcium also supports the development of your baby's bones and teeth.

Pregnant adults should get 1,000 mg (milligrams) of calcium a day, and pregnant teenagers need 1,300 mg of calcium each day.

Vitamin D
Vitamin D helps with calcium absorption. All women, pregnant or not, should be getting 600 IU (international units) of vitamin D per day. Vitamin D supports your immune system and the health of your bones, teeth, and tissue.

pexels-yan-krukau-71555944. Drink water

A pregnant woman needs extra hydration to support blood volume expansion and to maintain clean amniotic fluid for their growing baby. Pregnant women should drink 8-12 cups per day (2-3 quarts) to stay adequately hydrated. On hotter days, they can drink more.

 

5. Stay active

Exercise during pregnancy offers many physical and emotional benefits. A good exercise program can help to relieve common problems associated with pregnancy.

  • Fatigue 
  • Insomnia
  • Leg cramps
  • Constipation
  • Varicose veins
  • Improved posture 
  • Improved circulation
  • Reduced backaches
  • Excessive weight gain
  • Increased mood and energy
  • Swelling of your hands and feet

pexels-gustavo-fring-3984370The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that pregnant women (whose physicians clear them to exercise) do at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5-7 days per week. 

  • Yoga
  • Cycling
  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Light lifting and bodyweight movements

Running, racquet sports, and strength training are safe for pregnant women who participated in these activities before pregnancy when done in moderation. 

When designing your exercise program, consider the changes you’re experiencing — new body alignment, different posture, reduced strength, endurance, and extra weight (up to 25 to 40 pounds), which places stress on your joints and muscles and makes your heart work harder. 

The key is to let your body be your guide. You know you’re at a good intensity when you can talk normally and not become exhausted too quickly.

What prenatal fitness options are there in the Santa Clarita Valley?

One of the ways to feel great while you are pregnant is to train with instructors who know about prenatal fitness. The Santa Clarita Valley has a few options for pregnant women. Many of the centers also offer exercise options for the postnatal period.

Paseo Club

Paseo Club offers fitness classes enjoyed by pregnant women. 

Liquid Cardio allows women in all trimesters to feel lighter and stronger in the weightless environment of the junior Olympic pool. This class is especially beneficial for women in the last trimester of pregnancy. 

Beginning yoga is a wonderful class for pregnant women because it strengthens and relaxes the body while calming the mind. Poses may need to be adjusted depending on what stage of pregnancy you are in. 

Personal Trainers can support developing a workout just for you in your current stage of pregnancy, so a personal trainer is a great choice. A personal trainer will help customize an exercise program based on your individual needs. 

 

pexels-airam-datoon-13106585Fit4Mom 

Fit4Mom is a national pre and postnatal fitness program. They offer a 6-week long prenatal course called Fit4Baby®. 

New moms can workout by joining outdoor Stroller Strides exercise class®, Stroller Barre®, a moms-only Body Well® class, and more. Your first class is free!

 

Babe Cave Training

Babe Cave Training is based in Santa Clarita and has designed the fitness program, BabeFit, specifically for pregnant and postpartum women. They also offer pregnancy and postpartum consultations so mothers can learn about exercise recommendations, nutritional needs, labor and delivery options, and postpartum health. 

The Intuitive Mama Coach

The Intuitive Mama Coach is a certified coach, doula, and yoga teacher based in Santa Clarita Valley. She offers both prenatal and postnatal Mama and Baby yoga classes. Classes are offered in a 5-class series. 

Caring for yourself during your pregnancy

Becoming pregnant is a life-changing event. With so much uncertainty, it is essential to focus on what you can do to best take care of yourself and your baby.

Eating well, staying active, and getting adequate rest help you and your baby be as healthy as possible. 

Another part of being healthy is engaging in your community. Social connections can boost your mood, minimize depression, and help you feel a part of a bigger group of people with shared values.

The Paseo Club is not just a place to exercise. We host social and sporting events and fundraisers. The club is also a place to eat, drink, and practice self-care by meeting with one of our practitioners at the onsite spa.

If you are not yet a member, schedule a tour of the Paseo Club today. Check out the eight-acre facility and meet members, staff, and instructors.
Schedule a Tour

Check out these three articles to learn more about living a healthy life.

Jen Azevedo

Jen Azevedo is a tennis professional, pickleball professional, personal trainer, group exercise instructor, and the general manager of the Paseo Club. She loves the community at the Paseo Club and that it is also a safe and fun place for her daughter. Jen’s favorite activities are joining her tribe for trail races or her partners for tennis matches. Occasionally Jen slows down to relax with a book — she reads over 100 a year!