Overheard On Campus: I am 14 weeks pregnant. Do I need to start an exercise plan and special diet at this time?

Contributed by Lisa Salazar, M.P.H, A.C.E.-C.P.T.
Introduction by Tyler Achilles, B.A.

I can safely say I wouldn’t know the first thing about a maternity exercise and diet plan. Good thing we have health promotion experts that can help! Lisa Salazar, director of the wellness center at Idaho State University, gives her advice below on what to do for diet and exercise while pregnant. For more information on similar topics, check out the Overheard On Campus category or log in to MyStudentBody.

Pregnant woman's stomach

Congratulations are in order as you start on a very special road of life! Let me answer this question in two parts, starting with exercise and finishing up with special diet and nutritional needs.

As long as your physician has no concerns about your level of health, it is generally safe and often recommended to exercise during pregnancy. Be sure to keep you physician informed about the type of exercise you’re doing and make sure to avoid overly strenuous activities.

Benefits of exercise during pregnancy include:

  • Strengthening muscles (including the back muscles that are prone to aching as pregnancy progresses).
  • Increasing circulation and cardiovascular health to provide endurance and energy.
  • Improving self-image and lessening mood swings.
  • Reducing unwanted weight gain.

Yoga is an excellent option to consider as it offers the benefits above as well as some additional perks like flexibility, breathing techniques that can work throughout delivery, and reducing general aches and pains that are often associated with pregnancy.

While it is true that your nutritional needs increase with pregnancy, there is no need to follow a special diet unless specifically directed to do so by your health care provider. As a matter of common sense, you should avoid undercooked foods, refrain from alcohol consumption, and replace soda and coffee with water. Following a well-balanced diet without excess sugars and fat but full of a wide variety of nutritious whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables will help to ensure a healthy pregnancy.

Bottom line: Talk with your physician about special diet and exercise needs, and use these tips to start the conversation.

For more sexual health-related posts, check out the Sexual Health category in Health Topics or log in to MyStudentBody and navigate to the Sexual Health section.

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3 thoughts on “Overheard On Campus: I am 14 weeks pregnant. Do I need to start an exercise plan and special diet at this time?

  1. I am a registered dietitian, and I feel obliged to comment that this article on pregnancy advice is extremely insufficient. While yoga can be very beneficial during pregnancy, there are certain poses you absolutely shouldn’t do. Find a certified prenatal yoga instructor to guide you well. Eating- you need extra folic acid- especially at the beginning of your pregnancy, and should be taking prenatal vitamins daily. You also need increased calcium.

    • Those are some great points, Rachel. As Lisa points out, your health care provider should always be involved with decisions about exercise and diet during pregnancy. I really like your suggestion of finding a yoga instructor that practices with pregnant women and you added some great recommendations for diet as well.

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