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Eating for 2: Your RA Pregnancy Diet

Keep your pregnancy weight gain low -- your joints will thank you.

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After pregnancy, exercising can help you lose weight and maintain that loss. But, it can be hard to find the time and energy to exercise when you have a newborn at home. And if you're having an RA flare, it can be doubly challenging.

“The most dramatic weight loss occurs in the first six weeks after delivery, and most women are not doing significant exercise during this time,” Monga says. When you get the all-clear from your obstetrician that it is OK to start exercising, you might want to start by walking, not running. “You want to avoid things that put force on knee joints and hip joints,” Monga says.

Although there's no specific link between RA and diet, some women may find that certain foods make them feel worse. “If there are any foods that tend to trigger a flare for you, avoid them during the postpartum period where a flare is considered more likely,” Greene says. “For some of my patients, this means avoiding red meat.”

If you have RA, you may have a higher risk of heart disease. Greene often helps women make heart-healthy food choices during pregnancy and afterward. “We discuss good fats that can raise levels of high density lipoprotein or 'good' cholesterol,  fiber, and other foods that can really improve heart health and aid in weight loss,” Greene says. That means the kind of fats found in olive oil and canola oil, fish like salmon, and nuts like walnuts and almonds, as opposed to the kind found in fried and processed foods.

Proper nutrition for mom and baby during breastfeeding are also popular topics in Greene’s office.  “This is especially important if women are taking steroids because the baby needs calcium too,” she says.

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Reviewed on January 12, 2011

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