Though your body goes through many changes during pregnancy, in most cases it is safe and even healthy for you to continue with many of your normal activities throughout most of the process. A few of these normal activities are discussed below:
- Sex. Many people are concerned about the changing role sex may play in their relationship throughout pregnancy. Rest assured that if you are experiencing a normal pregnancy it is perfectly safe to have sex up to the ninth month of gestation. Because of the many changes that are taking place in your body and in your life, it is normal to experience changes in your sexuality during pregnancy. Sexual desire may increase or decrease for both the pregnant woman and her sexual partner during the different stages of the pregnancy. During the first trimester, feelings of nausea or fatigue may decrease a woman’s sexual desires. Conversely, knowing that you are pregnant can increase the intimacy between you and your partner. Many women experience an increase in sexual interest during the second trimester, when symptoms of pregnancy have lessened. Additionally, many women find sex to be difficult or uncomfortable during the third trimester when the size of the pregnancy can pose a challenge. Trying out different positions or engaging in other forms of intimacy besides sexual intercourse may help you and your partner to remain intimate during this special time.
There are a few circumstances where it is best to limit or avoid sexual intercourse during pregnancy. Women with a history of miscarriage should limit their sexual contact, as should women experiencing infection, abnormal cramps or bleeding, pain upon intercourse, or abnormal vaginal discharge.
It is important to practice safe sex during pregnancy to avoid contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Sexually transmitted diseases, such as Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Herpes and HIV/AIDS can seriously jeopardize the health of mother and baby. If it is not possible to be monogamous during pregnancy, at the very least, barrier contraception (such as latex condoms and dental dams) should be used during every sexual encounter. You should immediately notify your doctor if you suspect you may have contracted a sexually transmitted disease during your pregnancy.
- Exercise and Energy During Pregnancy. It is healthy and a good idea to maintain an exercise program during your pregnancy, although you may need to alter your normal exercise routine to make this happen. Exercise promotes strength and endurance, both of which are important for helping your body manage the increased weight and physical stress of pregnancy, and for preparing your body for the physical challenge of labor. Keeping fit during pregnancy can also help minimize the muscle, bone and joint aches caused by weight gain and other body changes. Many fitness centers offer classes for pregnant women, with routines specifically adapted to reduce impact and to accommodate the later stages of pregnancy. Because each woman's needs will be different, it is a good idea to discuss your exercise plans with your doctor prior to implementing them.
- Weight Gain During Pregnancy. Women often wonder how much weight they should gain during pregnancy. If you are underweight before pregnancy you should gain 28 to 40 lbs during pregnancy. If you are of average weight prior to pregnancy, you should gain 25 to 35 lbs. during pregnancy. If you are overweight prior to pregnancy, you should gain 15 to 25 lbs. during your pregnancy. For an average weight woman, this amount of weight gain can be achieved by adding an additional 300 kilocalories per day. More food that this will cause you to gain more weight than necessary.
Eating a well-balanced diet, including sources of vitamins, minerals, and folic acid, is essential during pregnancy. It is important for women to have adequate carbohydrate intake, especially complex carbohydrates (wheat bread, potatoes, whole fruits). Information on proper diet for pregnant women is available here.
It is not considered safe to lose weight while pregnant. Efforts to diet may result in the fetus not getting enough of the balanced nutrients it needs to grow properly. Also, weight loss attempts during pregnancy can elevate levels of a chemical called ketone, which is known to be toxic to developing fetuses.