You might have noticed that if your mom or someone in your family is pregnant, they might have started eating, drinking and being active in different ways than before.  Nutrition and exercise during pregnancy are very important to keep mom and baby both healthy — but there are a lot of rules to follow in order to do it right! Read on to find out more about a pregnancy-safe diet and exercise program.

Foods to Eat During Pregnancy

A woman who is pregnant should follow a healthy diet so that she and the baby will both do well during the pregnancy. Foods that are great for pregnant women include:

  • Lean, fresh meats that have been thoroughly cooked. This provides protein that the baby needs to build muscle and other tissues while it is developing.
  • Dairy products made from pasteurized milk. This also provides protein but also important minerals like calcium which help the baby’s bones grow strong.
  • Eggs that have been completely cooked. This is a great source of protein and vitamins like Vitamin D that are also needed for a health baby.
  • Fruits and vegetables that have been washed beforehand. Fruits and vegetables provide lots of vitamins and minerals that will keep mom healthy and make it easier for the baby to develop in a normal manner.
  • Whole grain products like oatmeal, whole grain bread and whole wheat pasta. This also provides minerals and vitamins as well as fiber, also important for a healthy pregnancy.

This diet is good for a pregnant woman because it gives the baby the nutrients it will need to grow while it is developing (for more information on how a baby grows before it is born, see our article on Pregnancy and Fetal Development). It is also good for the mother, because her body needs to be strong and healthy for the demands that the pregnancy will place on it.

Foods Not to Eat During Pregnancy

While there are lots of foods that it is great to eat during pregnancy — there are also lots of foods that need to be avoided!  The most important things on this list include:

  • Meats that have been smoked, cured or processed. There is an increased chance that these kinds of meats can harbor bacteria which can make a woman sick while she is pregnant.
  • Unpasteurized milk or cheese and other products made from it. Unpasteurized milk can harbor bacteria like Listeria. Listeriosis, an infection caused by this bacteria, can hurt a pregnant woman and her baby.
  • Undercooked eggs. Undercooked eggs can harbor a bacteria known as salmonella, a common cause of food poisoning. Food poisoning can also harm a baby before it is born.
  • Unwashed fruits and vegetables. Unwashed fruits and vegetables can also harbor bacteria that can make both mom and baby sick.
  • Refined grains and sugars. Too many refined grains and sugars during pregnancy can raise a mom’s blood sugar levels — and this can lead to problems like gestational diabetes.  This can mean that a baby is born too large and that can make labor difficult when it comes time for his or her birth.

Drinking During Pregnancy

There are many rules to remember about drinking while pregnant, too!

  • Drinking water is the best thing a woman can do when she is pregnant! This can prevent dehydration, which can also hurt the baby before it is born.
  • Most doctors recommend that women who are pregnant limit themselves to just 1-2 cups of coffee a day, to decreases that chances of miscarriage.
  • No alcohol should be drunk during pregnancy. Read more about alcohol during pregnancy in our upcoming article!
  • Small amounts of fruit juice are ok, but too much of it can also raise blood sugar levels. All the juice must be pasteurized: unpasteurized juice can also cause infections in pregnant women.

Exercises and Activity During Pregnancy

There are even rules about what kind of exercises and activities are good for a woman while she is pregnant!

  • Walking is considered to be one of the best exercises for pregnant women. Many doctors, however, discourage women from running or jogging while they are expecting.
  • Heavy lifting (over 10-15 pounds) is also a big no-no, as it can put too much strain on the uterus can cause problems with the pregnancy.
  • Cross-country skiing, horseback riding and other pastimes that are strenuous or carry the risk of an accident are also discouraged.
  • Many women participate in prenatal yoga exercises that are specially designed to make pregnancy and labor easier. There are many local gyms which offer prenatal yoga classes to help with the health of the pregnancy.

So if your mom suddenly seems a lot more picky about what she’s eating or doing, now you know why!  She has a lot of rules to follow to keep the baby healthy before it is born.