Pregnancy is quite the journey! It is both exhausting and exciting, frightening and full of love.
Your body makes a ton of changes during this time, and you will quickly find that your heart rate rises faster and your belly makes it hard to do certain activities.
Staying active during pregnancy, however, is very important for both you and baby. I am a firm believer that maintaining a workout routine even with a bigger belly is an essential part of prenatal care. However, you must be careful to avoid certain exercises.
Of course, working out during pregnancy should always begin with a conversation with your doctor to make sure that you and your baby are healthy enough to continue a fitness routine. After this talk, follow the guidelines below and you’ll have a fit and firm pregnancy!
Heart Rate- Especially following the start of the second trimester your heart rate will get higher faster because both the excess blood your body creates and because it is essentially beating for two. During this time you don’t want your heart rate to get too high. If you can talk during your workout, even if you sound breathy, that is a good indication that you are working out at an appropriate pregnancy level. However, if you cannot talk or are gasping for breath, take it down a notch.
Bouncy/Jarring Movements- There are plenty of quick movements that you can do to keep fit while your baby belly grows that don’t include jumping or jarring movements. Exercises like jumping jacks, running, jump squats, etc. are hard on your baby and your belly! While I know some women that are able to keep up these movements and more during pregnancy, there are risks involved, including early delivery, that I don’t believe are worth the extra workout rush.
Lying On Your Back- Following the end of your first trimester, doctors advise that you avoid any movements that require you lie on your back. Not only does this position get very uncomfortable as your belly grows, but the extra weigh from your stomach puts pressure on an artery that can be very dangerous. Therefore, while pregnant you get a pass on sit-ups, crunches, and any other movement that requires you lie on your back! Don’t worry, there are many standing abdominal exercises you can do to maintain your core muscles.
Heavy Weights- There has been some debate regarding how much weight you can safely lift while pregnant. As cross-fit has become more popular many pregnant women have insisted that they can maintain a fitness routine that includes heavy weight lifting, yet my doctor has always advised to have my husband pick up anything over 50 pounds. In my opinion this is a common sense issue, as well as a “listening to your body” issue. First off, it’s your body. If you have been safely lifting large amounts of weight before you became pregnant, it is probably safe to continue to do so until your body starts to feel different. Your pregnancy is about making a baby, not about achieving fitness goals. If you are comfortable with heavier weight lifting, you don’t feel any additional strain in your abdominal area, and your doctor has approved your fitness routine, then by all means continue. However, be sure to avoid movements that risk a heavy bar dropping towards your belly such as power cleans. As your belly grows you will also become more off balance, so you want to also avoid movements that put your center of gravity at risk. Stick with basic movements and do not increase your weight during pregnancy, you aren’t trying to win any competitions, you are trying to make a healthy baby.
Weight Loss- This a tough one for a lot of women. As soon as we see those two pink lines on a pregnancy test we are overwhelmed with emotions; excitement, a touch of fear. We are also quickly reminded that we are going to gain weight. This can be daunting for anyone, but particularly for women who have a low self esteem, or are already struggling with weightloss. Weight gain during pregnancy is normal and healthy. I have gained almost 50 pounds with each of my pregnancies; that seems to be normal for my body. Yet I always dread and fear taking it off. Nevertheless, whether you started out a bit over weight or at your goal, pregnancy is not the time to try to shed pounds. Good fats and calories are needed for your baby’s healthy development. If you want to go on a health kick and avoid McDonald’s and processed sugars for a few months, more power to you, but cutting calories or trying to burn more calories than you eat can wait until your baby is safely in your arms and no longer in your belly.
Working out during pregnancy can be a chore! Your body is already under a lot of stress. Nevertheless, if you can get a fitness routine started you won’t regret it come time for labor and, even more so, when it’s time to shed the baby weight!
How do you stay fit during pregnancy? What are your favorite movements?