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15 Ways to Have a Great Pregnancy

7. Watch your back.

It's time to gear up  -- and we're not talking about strollers and pacifiers. You need tools to reduce pregnancy's physical toll on your back:

A footstool, placed wherever you spend a lot of time sitting, to ease the stress on your hip joints and lower back. Choose one that's five to ten inches high (or whatever is comfortable, depending on the height of your chair).

A body pillow, to make side sleeping more comfortable. Experts advise sleeping on your left side while pregnant to increase blood flow to the baby (sooner or later, side sleeping becomes the only comfortable way to rest anyway). Once you've tried the pillow, you won't be able to live without it. You can order a variety of styles online, or a look for specially-designed maternity models.

A tennis ball or two for a do-it-yourself back massage, recommended by Nyack, NY-based naturopathic physician and massage therapist Isadora Guggenheim: Put two or three tennis balls in a long sock, then sit in a hard-backed chair. Place the sock comfortably (in a vertical or horizontal position) behind you, so that when you wiggle your back, the balls massage tense areas.

8. Exercise now.

"Pregnancy is a perfect time to work out," says Julie Tupler, R.N., founder of Maternal Fitness, a New York City-based company that teaches workshops on exercise to help your body through the trials of pregnancy, labor, and delivery. "Abdominals stretch out and weaken during pregnancy, so it's important to strengthen your abs to help push the baby out, prevent back problems, and aid in your body's recovery from childbirth. Also, exercising helps keep your energy up and stress down." Since boosting your fitness will help you bounce back into shape more quickly following delivery, don't be afraid to be active while pregnant, but do check with your doctor before embarking on a regular regimen.

Seek out a specialized pregnancy-fitness class, book, or video; there are right and wrong ways to exercise during this time. Check out Tupler's book or video set, both under the title Maternal Fitness: Preparing for a Healthy Pregnancy, an Easier Labor, and a Quick Recovery.

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