Tips to Stay Fit During Pregnancy
I am going to begin this article by saying that I have never been pregnant or have experienced childbirth, so I will not be offering any personal pearls of wisdom, or pretend that I know what you’re going through. I am also not a doctor, so please check with yours before starting or continuing an exercise routine while pregnant. What I CAN offer you is some sound advice based on years of knowledge and research, pre and postnatal fitness courses, and a great deal of experience working with pregnant clients. If you are in the low-risk pregnancy category, here are some tips to make your pregnancy as smooth and healthy as possible:
Workout. I know, many women get scared to workout during the pregnancy in fear that it might hurt the baby, but nothing could be further from the truth. A healthy mom makes for a healthy baby. Now, if you were sedentary before you got pregnant, please don’t use this as your time to start an intense routine or run a marathon. What you can and should do is start walking everyday, find a prenatal yoga class, and if possible, hire a qualified fitness professional to get you started on a safe routine that will keep you and the baby strong and healthy. If you were extremely active before you got pregnant, keep it up! Nothing should really change in your first trimester. You will want to avoid any exercises that involves lying on your back during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters, as this decreases blood flow to the uterus. For more exercise guidelines, click here.
Eat Healthy. I know that weird pregnancy cravings can kick in, and I’m not saying to deny yourself of these completely, but keep in mind that what you eat, your baby eats. Would you drink alcohol or smoke a cigarette while pregnant? Of course not, but when you eat a doughnut, so is your baby. Do that every day, and he is developing a sugar addiction right along with you. This will lead to challenges with his weight from the start, as well as possible complications with Type 2 Diabetes and other weight related illnesses down the road. In addition, the less weight you gain, the less you are going to need to take off after you give birth. A woman of average weight before getting pregnant should only gain 25-35 pounds during her pregnancy. Foods that every pregnant woman should include in her daily diet are fruits and vegetables, breads and grains and healthy lean proteins. You should not restrict your calories during this time, or go on a “diet.” Instead, focus on whole foods, mostly plant-based, for nourishment.
Keep Your Core Strong. Two-thirds of pregnant women will experience an abdominal wall split, also known as Diastasis Recti. Without the needed muscle support, a vaginal delivery becomes more more difficult. To help prevent this, one must continue to do core exercises through her pregnancy. How do you do this if you can’t lay on your back for the last two trimesters, you ask? Simple. There are many core exercises you can do from a non-supinated position; forearm planks, spinal balance, standing crunches and pelvic tilts as well as boat pose are all safe and effective. Please see my attached video.
Things to Avoid: Avoid heavy lifting above your head and anything that will strain your back. Avoid exercising in extreme heat (no hot yoga) and overstretching your muscles. In preparation for childbirth, your body produces a hormone called Relaxin to relax the ligaments in the pelvis and soften and widen the cervix. While this is amazing for giving birth, one can overstretch her muscles given her newly found flexibility and do some damage in the long run.
Listen To Your Body. Your doctor, myself, nor anyone else is a better judge of how you feel than you! If you’re exercising and something doesn’t feel right, stop. Pay attention to your heart rate at all times, any warning signs of extreme exhaustion and nausea outside of typical pregnancy symptoms should be addressed immediately.
I hope this helps, and if you have any questions, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.