Two days shy of 7 months pregnant, Noah and I are off to teach TurboKick! (He’s actually very good at following my cues — I’m ready to see his punching and kicking skills out of the womb!)
As research in pregnancy has continued, the rules about exercise have changed. I’ve had women in my classes tell me that as soon as they found out they were pregnant, their doctor instructed them to stop working out. Now, studies show exercise in pregnancy boosts energy, aids in sleep, reduces stres & discomfort, and eases childbirth.
Working out can also have positive impact on baby as well. For example, as early as age 5, children score higher on general intelligence tests if their mothers worked out while they were pregnant with them.
However, there are limits, and I’m learning those limits continue to evolve during pregnancy. Working out in pregnancy is a constant effort to listen to your body and DO WHAT IT SAYS.
Here are some general guidelines that will help you in exercising safely throughout your pregnancy:
DISCLAIMER: Before beginning any exercise program, you should always discuss it with your doctor first.
Fuel your body properly.
Your body needs about 300 extra calories per day during pregnancy. Make sure you factor in what you are burning into your daily calorie needs so your baby is getting the proper nutrition for development. It’s also important to drink plenty of water before, during, and after your workout. If your body gets dehydrated, it could cause contractions or raise your body temperature to dangerous levels for you and your baby.
Wear loose-fitting, breathable clothing.
The last thing you want are additional distractions like a shirt that’s too tight, a sports bra that doesn’t fit, or shorts that are too short thanks to your expanding belly. Also, later in pregnancy, if you experience swelling in your feet, you may need to buy/borrow bigger sized athletic shoes.
Say good-bye to chest presses and crunches.
After your 1st trimester, no more lying on your back. Just like your doctor advised you to stop sleeping on your back, this is the same principle. To keep your chest muscles strong throughout pregnancy, you’ll have to depend on wall push-ups.
Stop lifting heavy on lower-body exercises.
Throughout your pregnancy, as far as how how you can go, your range of motion for squats and lunges will change. Don’t put a bar on your back after your first trimester. Throughout the 2nd trimester, you can hold light dumbbells. Once you’re in the 3rd trimester, your body weight should be plenty to keep your muscles strong!
Now is not the time to take on something new.
When it’s time to lose the baby weight, you can decide to take on hot power yoga or triathalon training. For now, stick to fitness activities your body is used to. If you didn’t work out before you found out you were pregnant, start small and slowly build up. Great beginner activities are walking, strength training, and swimming. It’s also a great idea to enlist the help of a fitness professional to develop a plan that’s just right for you.
Can you speak normally during your workout?
You don’t want your heart rate to stay too high for too long. If you don’t wear a heart rate monitor, use the talk test. For the majority of your workout, you should be able to speak without sounding like you’re drowning. Remember, your main goal in pregnancy is a healthy baby — not the strength of your aerobic threshold.
Activity that requires balance should be avoided.
By the 3rd trimester, women have gained an average of 20–40 lbs.…most of which is all in one place. Your center of gravity has changed, is changing, and will continue to change throughout your pregnancy. Even if you wanted to, you couldn’t train your body to adjust to its new position because it will be different next week.
Do you look pregnant? It’s time to take it easy.
Your joints are shifting, so high impact activity can make you more prone to injury. Also, contact sports always leave the opportunity for an accident, and you don’t want to risk a fall or a blow to the belly. Sit on the sidelines for now — it’s only 9 months!
You may have to continuously adjust your activity or the length of your workout on a daily basis. During my 1st trimester and the majority of my 2nd, I would run a few miles for cardio some days and feel just fine. Last week, I set off to do my normal run, and about 1/2 mile in, I had to change to a fast walk. Running just wasn’t comfortable anymore. Make the necessary adjustment, and move on.
Leave your competitive spirit behind.
I confess — this one is especially difficult for me. I may be the one teaching the class, but I’m definitely not the one getting the lowest or jumping the highest. But that’s okay. If you’ve showed up for your workout that day, you’ve succeeded. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Just be proud of yourself for your dedication to your health and the health of your baby.