How to Stay Fit When You're Pregnant

Whether you are pregnant at 25 or 45, chances are you want to know the secret to having an easier pregnancy. "Early Show" co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez recently spent some time with Meaghan Murphy, fitness director of Self magazine. Murphy shared with Rodriguez how important it is to stay active during pregnancy.

Murphy shared these tips to being fit both during and after you have a baby:

1. Avoid too much weight gain. Murphy said on average, a woman of normal weight can expect to put on 25 to 35 pounds during nine months of pregnancy. To avoid additional weight gain, she recommends hitting the pavement: Women who walked for only 30 minutes a day throughout their pregnancy reduced their risk of gaining excess bulge by eight percent. Stroll, and unwanted pounds will be gone, baby, gone.

2. Exercise! There are many low impact exercises one can do and studies show there are added benefits. Labor may be easier. When push comes to push, delivery is very physical. If you are in good shape, your body may have an easier time pushing. Pregnant women who were able to do moderate to high-intensity aerobic workouts for 12 to 16 minutes experienced deliveries that were shorter by about 30 minutes than their less fit counterparts.

3. Banish post-baby blues. Women who worked out pre-pregnancy and during their last trimester were 34 percent less likely to report symptoms of postpartum depression. And you only need to do 30 minutes a day. Changes in body temperature and endorphin levels after your workout may produce feelings of well-being and relaxation that hamper depression.

4. You'll stay healthier. While pregnant, you are more susceptible to certain pregnancy specific health conditions, including preeclampsia (or pregnancy-induced high blood pressure) and gestational diabetes. But regular sweat sessions can help lower the inflammatory markers, such as C-reactive protein, or CRP, associated with preeclampsia; exercise also helps control blood sugar and reduces insulin resistance, nudging down an expectant mother's diabetes risk.

5. Backaches will be history. Fifty to 80 percent of pregnant women will complain of nagging aches, particularly back pain. (The weight of the baby puts added pressure on your spine, triggering the trouble.) You can minimize discomfort simply by strengthening your lower-back and leg muscles.

Murphy said, "When you are a celeb, you need to bounce back fast as you are in the limelight. Just think of Ellen Pompeo, Gwen Stefani and J-Lo-they all maintained a healthy, fit lifestyle while pregnant and looked fantastic after. You know Mariah wants to get back on stage and prep for her cover shoots with the baby, and the viewers at home want to get back into their pre-baby jeans. I am sure that all those hot celeb mommies have personal trainers, so you can consider me your personal coach to a hot body and head to Self.com to see the video of me doing all the moves for your total body workout."

Murphy added, "Make sure to check with your obstetrician before doing any activities."

In addition to exercising, Murphy said it is also really important to eat right and treat yourself like a celebrity whether you are one or not. Everyone knows that by your third trimester, you are hot, tired and uncomfortable. Sleeping is not easy, your feet are swollen (even if you can't see them to know) and even your brain is playing tricks on you.

Here is your key to the celebrity treatment to make you feel like the queen:

Swollen Feet: We have a one-stop-shop solution: The Body Shop has a peppermint line that is sure to ache tired, swollen feet. Murphy shared a few options pregnant women looking for relief can try at home:

At the end of a long day, fill up a bin of warm water and pamper yourself with a Peppermint Reviving Foot Soak. Natural effervescent salts to cleanse and a fizzing action that will leave your tired feet feeling cool and refreshed.
If you can't reach your feet, but want a pick-me up. This will save you! Peppermint Cooling Foot Spray refreshes and revives your hot, tired feet with an instant pick-me-up of cooling, deodorizing peppermint-put in the fridge for a summer-time treat!
Not only do your feet get swollen, but your legs are achy so try Peppermint Cooling Leg Gel: Rejuvenate your tired, aching legs and stimulate circulation with an energizing, lightweight gel that provides a cool, refreshing boost.
And finally, get a foot file (this one is handy as it has a long handle to help you reach). Get off that rough skin for smooth feet.

Sleep: Murphy said, "Sleep deprived pregnant women, we have your savior: The Snoogle Total Body Pillow by Leachco is the best thing ever invented for a pregnant lady. It curves to your body so you can actually get comfortable. This is one thing you should get immediately. You can thank us later!"

$52.95, Available at Destination Maternity and DestinationMaternity.com.

Mommy Brain: Murphy said, "We want to let you know that, no, you are not going crazy. Those times you put the milk in the cupboard instead of the refrigerator, misplace your cell phone, or even forget your hubby's name, 'Mommy brain' isn't all in your head. Many women experience problems with memory during pregnancy, and researchers think that changing hormones are to blame. You can't change those hormones, but eating healthfully, drinking plenty of water, and getting enough sleep will help keep you and baby healthy."

Murphy suggests this diet: During the third trimester, you need about 450 more calories per day than you did pre-pregnancy. Get about 45 to 65 percent of your calories from carbs and choose healthy carbs, such as whole grains and legumes. You should aim to eat about 71 grams of protein per day from lean meats and seafood. These bites also supply zinc and iron, which your body needs more of during pregnancy. Lean protein foods provide key amino acids that function as neurotransmitters-to help stimulate your brain. Also try to get 1.4 grams of Omega-3 fatty acids daily. They're good for your brain, and your baby's. Try walnuts, flaxseed and low-mercury fatty fish such as wild salmon. And remember to keep eating 3-servings of calcium-rich low-fat dairy daily. You need 1000 milligrams of the mineral per day for both baby's growing bones, and to maintain your own bone mass.

Murphy added, "After all that just remember, establish healthy sleep habits, make lists, use a day planner, try Sudoku (research shows that problem solving games can improve brain function and memory) and keep your sense of humor."
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