Balancing Diet and Exercise While Pregnant

My maternal instinct kicked in as soon as I found out I was pregnant. I wanted to give my baby a healthy beginning to what I dreamed would be a long, happy life, and that meant taking good care of myself through diet and exercise while pregnant.

In the back of my mind, I didn’t want age to be a factor. I didn’t approach my pregnancy as if my “advanced maternal age” was a disadvantage. In many ways, I was probably healthier at 40 than I was in my 20s. Of course diet and exercise are much easier to manage during the first pregnancy than the second, third, I can’t even imagine the fourth!

My doctor encouraged me to stay active. She was amazing, and I knew I was in good hands under her care. BTW – if you have options, I would encourage you to find a doctor you are comfortable with. I’m not offering medical advice, I’m just saying your doctor plays a key role in your pregnancy journey, and I felt blessed to have a doctor I liked.

As far as my diet, moderation was key for me. I had already cut out caffeine and alcohol while trying to get pregnant. I tried to make healthy choices, so I ate a lot of salads, smoothies, vegetables and nuts. If I wanted pizza or French fries, however, I didn’t deprive myself. I just didn’t justify overeating as “eating for two” because the baby didn’t need me to overindulge no matter how tempting!

The main reason I watched my weight was because I wanted to feel healthy once the baby was born. I’ve heard so many women complain about carrying baby weight for years. I’ve also heard a lot of people complain about their metabolism slowing down at 40. I didn’t want to be in that position as a new mom.

I gained weight quickly in the first trimester. I was nauseous and eating to make that go away. I tried ginger gum and candies and wristbands for nausea, but nothing seemed to help.

I felt better in my second and third trimesters, and my weight gain wasn’t as significant. I had a lot of energy during the second trimester, and I took advantage of that time to buy furniture for the nursery and prepare for life with a baby.

My baby shower was at the beginning of my third trimester which was great timing because I had a baby bump for photos, but I was still getting around well. I had to fit my baby shower in around the holidays, and I was worried that I was having it too early. The timing was perfect, however, and it gave me an opportunity to figure out what I still needed before the baby arrived.

I stayed active until I was put on modified bed rest at 37 weeks. I took barre classes throughout my pregnancy, and it was key to maintaining my weight and energy. From start to finish, I gained 25 pounds.

I had heartburn throughout my pregnancy, and yes, my cute little baby was born with a full head of hair! Maybe the connection is an old wives’ tale – who knows. Women also told me stories about their feet growing, and I couldn’t imagine starting over with all new shoes (or could I?? 🙂 ). But that didn’t happen.

I was mindful of my mental health, too. There are a lot of emotions and hormones racing through your mind and body during pregnancy. But I had a baby on the way – I was happy! And I didn’t want him growing and developing in a moody mom. There’s something about a baby that brings out the best in people. It’s truly a special time.

Did you have a baby later in life? How did you feel during your pregnancy? Any advice for helping other soon-to-be moms make healthy choices?

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