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Thanks to your growing baby’s need for calcium and other minerals, pregnancy and breastfeeding can place some pretty heavy demands on a mom’s bones — not to mention all the other changes going on in your body during pregnancy. Here are five steps every expecting mom should take to protect her bones.

 

  1. Get enough calcium! During pregnancy, a baby needs calcium to develop strong teeth and bones. If you’re not getting enough in your diet or from your prenatal supplements, the fetus will take calcium from your bones, especially during the last trimester when the baby’s calcium needs are the greatest. Pregnant women are advised to get at least 1,300 mg of calcium a day. If you don’t get enough from your diet or prenatal vitamin, ask your doctor about a calcium supplement. The good news: your body absorbs calcium more easily during pregnancy to help protect against calcium deficiency.
  2. Don’t neglect vitamin D. Vitamin D is used to help calcium transport efficiently. The suggested daily dose of calcium for pregnant women is 600 IU daily.
  3. Eat a healthy diet. Even if you are taking a prenatal vitamin, there are still lots of good reasons to stick to a healthy diet full of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Foods that are naturally high in calcium include dairy products and green, leafy vegetables. A healthy diet will also help you maintain a healthy pregnancy weight.
  4. Get plenty of (safe) exercise. Exercise benefits bones just like it benefits muscles: the more you get, the stronger your bones are. Engaging in a program of safe, weight-bearing exercise is a great way to reinforce bone health (this can include weight training, walking, swimming, or anything that provides resistance). Beyond the bone benefits, the benefits of exercise during pregnancy include less aches and pain, better sleep, improved mood, and more energy.
  5. Stop smoking. Cigarette smoke is closely linked to many disorders for both you and your baby, including the serious bone disorder osteoporosis (brittle, weak bones) in mom and bone growth and bone mass in their children. If you can’t stop smoking on your own, reach out to your doctor for support or recommendations on resources to help you quit.

Takeaways

  • Pregnancy places heavy demands on a mom’s bones.
  • Make sure to get plenty of calcium and vitamin D!
  • Eat a health diet with lots of leafy greens.
  • Resistance exercises are great for bone health.
  • Stop smoking.

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References

  1. National Institutes of Health. Pregnancy, Breastfeeding and Bone Health.
  2. Parviainen R, Auvinen J, Pokka T, Serlo W, Sinikumpu JJ. Maternal smoking during pregnancy is associated with childhood bone fractures in offspring – A birth-cohort study of 6718 children. Bone. 2017 Aug;101:202-205.

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