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Keep you and your bump in tiptop shape; EXCLUSIVE Pregnancy is one of the most important times to be fit. If you want to give your baby the best start in life, try these great ways to get, and stay, healthy.

Byline: Louise Baty

It always used to be the accepted advice for mums to "eat for two". But now it's thought that while you might enjoy those big portions, you may soon regret them once baby arrives.

Trying to shift those extra pounds while you devote all your time and energy to a newborn is often easier said than done.

And while you must not diet while pregnant there's still a lot you can do to keep you and your bump fit and healthy. It's simply a case of knowing what.

When fitness expert Jane Wake was pregnant with her son Daniel five years ago, she struggled to find trustworthy diet and exercise advice. "Pregnancy is daunting enough without worrying about how to keep fit," she says.

"Obesity in pregnant women and babies is a huge concern, but there's so much conflicting advice out there. In the worst cases, women stop exercising at all for fear of doing something wrong - but pregnancy is the perfect time to get healthy," says Jane.

"Your body will respond to good food and exercise."

Let's be clear. You should never aim to lose weight or maintain your pre-pregnancy weight while you're expecting, and it's normal to gain between 2st and 3st.

But by keeping healthy, you're giving your child the best start in life. To help new mums and mumsto-be, Jane, 41, has made a health and fitness DVD series called Baby A-Wake. Incredibly, she filmed it while expecting daughter Gracie, now six months.

Here are Jane's tips for enjoying a really healthy pregnancy - and beyond.

Remember to consult your GP before embarking on any exercise or eating plan, in case you have specialist needs.

10 ways to stay fit and healthy

(1) Rethink the 'eating for two' myth

This is the cause of many a binge. Most mums-to-be only need an extra 300 calories a day - that's a banana and a yoghurt, a low-calorie sandwich or a small chocolate bar. Eat healthy snacks and don't overdo sugary treats.

(2) Take gentle, regular exercise

Avoid intense workouts as you battle morning sickness. Go for light to moderate exercise. "Brisk walking is perfect," says Jane, "and if you already have a young child, you can take the pushchair."

(3) Go for healthy options - your body will thank you for it

If you feel sick, it's hard to focus on nutrition. "I couldn't keep anything down for the first four months of my pregnancy with Gracie," says Jane. "If you find something nutritional that works, stick to it. Even if you crave junk food, pick a healthy alternative. Processed foods can make sickness worse."

(4) Stay fully hydrated

You need more water - two to three litres a day. Limit tea and coffee to one or two cups a day, or go for decaffeinated.

(5) Forget food fads

A balanced diet is essential and you need calories from all three energy sources: complex carbohydrates, protein and fats. "Carb intake is essential during pregnancy as your baby uses it as a fuel to develop and grow," says Jane. "This in turn creates a greater need for carbohydrates in your own body, which is why pregnant women crave bread, pasta and potatoes."

(6) Love it or leave it

Get plenty of leafy, green veg like broccoli, lettuce, cabbage and spinach, which are packed full of folic acid.

Try to eat these with a fat source like a salad dressing or some cheese, as your body will absorb nutrients more effectively.

As a rule, the darker the leaf the better it is for you.

You can't risk some foods as they can be harmful to your baby - these include uncooked meat, unpasteurised cheese, eggs and pate. Avoid nuts if your family has nut allergies and discuss how much fish is wise with your GP.

(7) Firm up your pelvic floor

Forget biceps - your pelvic floor is the muscle you need to work. Making it stronger is vital to speed postnatal recovery, and to cut incontinence.

"Think of your pelvic floor muscle as being like a hammock strung between your coccyx and your pubic bone," explains Jane. "Exercise by pulling it up (as though holding in a pee), holding for a second, then releasing. Do 10 sets at least three times a day. Your tummy muscles will contract, strengthening them too."

(8) Don't rush to lose weight

All pregnant women gain about 5lb of extra body fat - it's essential protection for your baby.

"For some, weight gain is all on the bum while for others, it goes to the boobs," says Jane. "Just remember, it's natural."

Ignore those pictures of celebrities who are back in their skinny jeans hours after giving birth.

"Stars have personal trainers and staff so of course they will find it easier to get in shape," says Jane.

(9) Get your tummy back

Strong stomach muscles are essential in pregnancy to support your bump but never do sit-ups - they can irreversibly damage muscles. Instead Jane recommends the "sideways lift". Imagine your belly button is in a lift going horizontally back to your spine. There are five floors. Ground floor is letting your tummy relax, pull it up to reach first, then second and on to fifth floor. Relax back down the floors and repeat 10 times. Hold each floor a few seconds - but don't hold your breath!

(10) Put your back into it

Strengthen back muscles by "rocking the baby". Stand with feet parallel and arms folded: rotate from side to side as though rocking a baby to sleep. This works muscles and eases tension from spine to buttocks.

"It really helps through contractions," says Jane. "I did it in both labours - and made my husband Martin do it with me!"

The Baby-AWake DVD series is available now for pounds 9.99.

Meal planner

Pick 1 option for each meal

Breakfast

Bowl of cereal with fresh fruit, plus milk or yoghurt

Porridge with milk and added fruit

Scrambled egg on wholewheat toast. Also drink orange or grapefruit juice - the vitamin C helps you absorb the iron

Mid morning snack

Slice of wholemeal toast with Marmite

Apple or banana with a low-fat yoghurt

Lunch

Baked potato and salad with chicken, cheese or beans

Pasta salad with chicken, beans or tuna (but only one portion a week) and salad. Plus a big glass of water/juice

Afternoon snack

Wholemeal scone or bagel

A handful of dried fruit and nuts

Evening meal

Grilled steak, chicken/fish with broccoli/ salad and a small portion of mash or baked/sweet potato

Vegetable and bean casserole with rice

For pudding, low-fat yoghurt or apricot crumble with some yoghurt. Plus a large glass of water

PERFECTLY PREGGERS

Denise Van Outen, 35, who is having her first baby with husband Lee Mead this spring, is staying fit during her pregnancy.

She says: "I've tried to keep active. I still meet up with my personal trainer, Nicki Waterman. Before I did lots of running. Now we go for nice walks."

Coleen Rooney, 23, who had Kai last November, stayed in shape during her pregnancy on a healthy eating and fitness plan. In January, she started Baby Nap Express Workouts, doing 25 minutes' exercise a day while her son is asleep. Her secret weapon is reported to be a Flexi Bar, which sends vibrations into muscles to make them contract. Her trainer Elise Lindsay says: "I don't want her to be a celebrity who suddenly drops dress sizes."

Courteney Cox Arquette, 45, who had daughter Coco, now five, in 2004 gave up her strict Atkins diet as soon as she discovered she was expecting. After giving birth, she said: "I practise Budokon. It's a fitness regime that includes yoga and martial arts - a mind-body workout "It's a combination of meditation, stretching and cardio exercises that develop strength and flexibility. I also found that breastfeeding helped."

Catherine Zeta-Jones, 40, is mum to Dylan, now nine, and Carys, six. She said: "During pregnancy I tried to eat well to keep up my energy levels. Three meals a day, a nice mixed diet. I love chocolate, ice-cream and cakes, so that had to go straight away.

"I had to push myself to get to the gym but once I was there I was fine. I also did yoga. I have a crazy frantic side, and yoga refocuses the energy."
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 1, 2010
Words:1389
Previous Article:8 ways to make healthier eating a doddle.
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