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Chelsea at Crunch Gym

Forty Weeks of Fitness!

Chelsea, our pregnancy fitness expert, is a certified personal trainer at Crunch gym in San Francisco, California. She gave birth to her daughter, Madeira Re, in July 2006. Read more

Exercise, Good Food, And Prenatal Care Are the Keys

By Rebecca D. Williams

Because half of all pregnancies are unplanned, the U.S. Public Health Service recommends that all women of childbearing age get 400 micrograms of folic acid each day. If all women received that amount daily, the incidence of neural tube defects might be reduced by an estimated 45 percent, studies suggest. To help reach this goal, FDA now requires that all flour products, such as breads, buns and bagels, be fortified with extra folic acid.

Natural sources of folic acid include green leafy vegetables, nuts, beans, and citrus fruits. It's also in many fortified breakfast cereals and some vitamin supplements.

Calcium and iron are also especially important during pregnancy. Getting enough calcium will help prevent a new mother from losing her own bone density as the fetus uses the mineral for bone growth. Iron helps both the mother and baby's blood carry oxygen. Most women need supplements to maintain adequate levels of these minerals. A daily vitamin supplement, while not an adequate substitute for a healthy diet, helps fill in the gaps on days when a woman's diet is less than perfect.

Avoid Infections

Many infections during pregnancy can be dangerous to an unborn child. Urinary tract infections and any sexually transmitted diseases need to be treated immediately.

Cat litter and raw meat may contain the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, which can cause toxoplasmosis infection.It's rare for a pregnant woman to get the infection, but if she does, her baby could be at risk for serious illness or death. Get someone else to change the kitty litter if possible, or wear a face mask and rubber gloves for protection.

Problems also may arise when a pregnant woman eats undercooked or raw foods, or cooked foods that have been cross-contaminated with bacteria from raw food nearby. Food poisoning can cause meningitis, pneumonia, or even death to an unborn child, plus the vomiting and diarrhea involved leave the mother exhausted and dehydrated.

The 'Naughty' Stuff

Nearly everyone knows pregnant women shouldn't take illicit drugs, but it's the legal ones--alcohol and tobacco--that are more commonly the source of pregnancy problems.

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