July Health Hero: Expecting

Posted by: | June 30, 2011

By Erin King

Being healthy for two...

As I sit here polishing off the last of my chocolate chip cookie and BLT lunch, I don’t feel like much of a health hero. As I brush the crumbs off my ever-expanding belly, my skepticism for Suzanne’s choice grows even more.  But then, I am 36 weeks pregnant, and expanding bellies and junk food impulses are all part of the pregnancy game.

I’m learning that being a healthy pregnant woman involves adapting my idea of what it means to live a “healthy” lifestyle. Where I once counted calories to limit my intake, I now count them to maximize it. Where I once bounded home after work just to turn around and head out again on a long evening walk or a high-energy workout, now the bound is more of a waddle and the high-energy workout has been replaced by a gentle prenatal routine. I’m still doing what I can to stay healthy – but now what I am able to do changes on a daily basis. I’ve learned to take these changes in stride and work with them.

What am I doing to maintain my health as an expectant mom? For starters, I’m eating more calories, with a particular focus on protein. About 12 weeks into my pregnancy, my midwife asked me to keep a food journal for three days. I kept track of everything I ate, and in what quantity. My midwife compared this with the Canada Food Guide to make sure I was getting the right amount of all four food groups. As someone who gains weight very easily, I’ve always had to watch my calorie intake. This food journal exercise taught me to focus on the quality of food I consume rather than its calorie count. A snack of nuts, dried fruit and yogurt is far better for me and the baby than rice cakes and juice, for example. It’s also more than okay to give into an urge for ice cream or chips every once in a while. I’m sure this lesson applies to most of us, pregnant or not.

My prenatal exercise class takes place three times a week. The class involves weight training focused on the arms and legs, as well as light aerobic activity. Everything is done under close supervision and we take breaks whenever we need. This class is great as a reminder that we pregnant ladies are not as fragile as we sometimes feel, or what society thinks of us. At 36 weeks pregnant, I may not be able to go for the same run I could do pre-pregnancy, but I can still manage a pretty good set of lunges or bicep curls. The class is also a great opportunity to hang out with other pregnant women, have a good laugh and to start creating a social network of soon-to-be new moms.

I am lucky enough at UBC to work for a manager who puts a high value on the personal well-being of his employees. When I approached him about changing my work hours to allow for my exercise class, he was nothing but encouraging. My colleagues are also extremely supportive, and understanding when I sometimes have a low energy day. My office mates have even made runs to the store for ice cream bars on days when I have a craving!

In addition, UBC has tons of resources available for expectant moms and dads. EFAP offers counselling services and parenting workshops and is included in our benefits package. I’ve also found the staff in benefits and payroll to be extremely helpful in making my transition to a year-long maternity leave as smooth and stress-less as possible.

Most importantly, however, I listen to my body. I have learned to give myself permission to rest when I’m feeling tired or stressed, and to eat whenever I’m feeling hungry (or when I just want some chocolate). By pampering myself, I am taking care of this baby the best way I can.

One thing I’ve noticed throughout this pregnancy is that there is a huge community of UBC parents out there who share tons of advice, encouragement and laughter. Any new or expectant parents out there with their own healthy tips to share?

Filed under: Health Hero

3 Responses to “July Health Hero: Expecting”

  1. Paras says:

    Hello Erin,
    Congratulations! I am so happy for you. Thank you for sharing your great experiences. I would like to learn more about your prenatal exercise classes and EFAP services. If possible, please email me.

  2. Erin says:

    Thanks, Paras! I go to Barefit & Pregnant exercise classes. You can learn more about them at http://www.barefitandpregnant.com. Suzi is a really great instructor and the classes came highly recommended by my midwife. You might want to check with your own care provider before starting any new exercise routine though!
    You can learn more about EFAP at http://www.hr.ubc.ca/benefits/efap/. If you still have questions about their services, contact Miranda Massie at miranda.massie@ubc.ca. Miranda is a bit of an EFAP expert!
    Please do get in touch with me if you have more questions.
    All the best,

  3. Paras says:

    Thank you so much Erin.

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