Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Heart healthy pregnancy

I once knew a woman who approached her pregnancy like a drill sergeant. For the duration of her pregnancy, she worked out six days a week, drank only water and ate only raw fruits and vegetables and poached chicken.

I have a lot respect for this level of discipline – especially now that I’m 22 weeks pregnant and constantly craving anything that comes with jalepenos on top. I want to follow a heart healthy diet throughout my pregnancy, but I’m not exactly a drill sergeant. The difficulty is finding balance between the healthy foods I know my growing baby needs and the cravings that descend on me like a hot flash.

Following a heart healthy diet is important for all expectant moms – not just for the health of the baby, said Dr. Liesl Smith, OB/GYN on the medical staff at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. A woman’s heart is under increased demand during pregnancy to deliver oxygen, blood, and nutrients to both herself and baby.

Regular light-to-moderate exercise during pregnancy can help expectant moms sleep better, tolerate labor better and feel better, Dr. Smith said. She recommends elevating the heart rate to the 140s range for 30 minutes, four to five times a week. Obviously, pregnant women should avoid physical activities that can cause a fall onto the belly, such as rollerblading or waterskiing, she said.

The American Heart Association recommends a balanced diet including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean chicken and nuts such as almonds and walnuts – which are good sources of healthy fats such as omegas.

And as long as it doesn’t give you indigestion, there’s nothing wrong with putting a jalepeno on top.

Rachel Raya is a Public Relations Manager for Texas Health Resources and soon-to-be mom to a baby girl.

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