Bending The Rules During Pregnancy

Pregnant women are bombarded with rules of what they can and can't do. But sometimes, what sounds good in theory isn't very practical. Tricia O'Brien, Features Editor of American Baby Magazine, discusses when it's okay to bend the rules.

If you're having a baby, you're probably getting advice from your doctor, family members, friends and other moms you meet around town. While sound advice is worth listening to, you can't always follow every rule; life gets in the way. "We want people to ditch the guilt," says O'Brien. "Women are doing the best they can and sometimes, that's all you need to do."

One important rule to follow is to eat healthy during pregnancy. While good nutrition is important for baby's development and your healthy weight gain, O'Brien suggests treating yourself once a day. "Cravings are going to hit, and you're also going to be dealing with nausea," says O'Brien. "If you have to have a little ice cream every once in a while, that's okay. Just keep it in check." Treats are okay in moderation. Just remember that moms-to-be cannot survive on junk food alone. But don't feel guilty if you sneak in a chocolate bar or some chips now and then.

Doctors may also advise that women work out during pregnancy. Exercise not only make labor easier, but it also relieves stress and can help with post partum depression after your child is born. But while working up a sweat at the gym sounds like a good idea, expectant mothers are often too tired to fit in a good workout. As an alternative, O'Brien suggests exercising in small spurts. Instead of working out for 30 minutes all at once, try taking three 10-minute walks each day. Or, fit in exercise where you can. If you're shopping at the mall, do an extra lap past your favorite stores before you leave. Doing so not only makes exercise more manageable, but it also makes it more fun.

Because pregnant women are so tired, getting enough rest is key to having a healthy pregnancy. But sleeping with a big belly can be uncomfortable, and frequent bathroom breaks during the night can disrupt your sleep cycle. "Do the very best you can," says O'Brien. Most doctors recommend sleeping on your left side if you're expecting, but some women find this position uncomfortable. If there's another sleeping position that works better for you - like sleeping on your back - then sleep that way. If you're really having trouble getting some rest, some doctors may suggest an over-the-counter sleep aid. Just be sure to consult your doctor before taking any medications to find out if it's right for you.

Finally, don't forget about connecting with your partner. Having sex is perfectly safe during most pregnancies, but it can sometimes become uncomfortable as your belly grows. Be sure to fit in some alone time with your partner, even if it just means holding hands or snuggling on the couch while you watch a movie together. "Create some atmosphere," suggests O'Brien, by lighting some candles and dimming the lights. Relaxing together may be just what the doctor ordered.

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By Erin Petrun