Making a human is hard work! Your body is going to change dramatically over the course of your pregnancy, and most likely thereafter as well. (Hello, mom bod!) You have probably heard stories (or even know women personally) who became pregnant and never, “snapped back.” If you are expecting, you may be wondering can you exercise while pregnant. Getting fit while expecting a baby is not only entirely possible but also a great idea! The healthier a mother-to-be, most likely, the healthier her baby will be. Exercising while pregnant is also a great way to prepare for the marathon that is labor and delivery. Plus, if you maintain your fitness routine while pregnant, chances are that you will have an easier time with the postpartum fitness journey and losing the weight gained over those long nine months. Read on to learn more.
Of course, the most important advice around anything involved with your pregnancy will come from your doctor or OBGYN. Always check with a qualified professional before partaking in anything strenuous or new while pregnant. In general, if your pregnancy is healthy and exercise was part of your routine before you became pregnant, you should continue (within reason) the same workouts as you were doing. As you get further along with your pregnancy, you will likely need to make modifications for safety. Especially because your body is going to drastically change. As your belly grows, it will become increasingly difficult to execute certain movements, which will yield exercises to avoid while pregnant.
For example, bending forward will become more challenging and less comfortable. As you gain weight, anything that involves jumping, bouncing, or the sudden impact of gravity is going to be not only uncomfortable because of the pressure of the baby on all of your organs, but it may also lead to unintended urination. Gross, we know. (But try having 30 extra pounds pushing on your bladder.)
At a certain point in the 40 weeks, you may also feel discomfort in positions that require you to lay on your back. Again, this is because of all of the extra weight crushing your organs. So, no bending forward, no jumping, bouncing, running, and nothing involving laying on the back. You are probably thinking, “what kind of exercise can I do while pregnant?” Keep reading for some of our favorite suggestions for getting fit and maintaining your health while pregnant.
Swimming is the perfect pregnancy exercise. Trust us, when you are heavy, bloated, and as big as a house (okay fine, as big as a skyscraper sideways), you are going to love the weightless sensation and buoyancy of being in the water. Water can be therapeutic, especially for those who experience swelling of the legs and ankles during pregnancy.
Swimming is also amazing because it is a low-impact form of cardio. You can really raise your heart rate and get your blood flowing while gliding through the water. This poses very little strain or impact on your joints, which are already working overtime to carry the sudden increase of weight in your body. Anything that increases your heart rate is going to increase your circulation, which will increase your blood flow and oxygen to your fetus. This is extremely beneficial for both your health and the health of your baby.
Water-resistance is a great way to get in shape. If swimming laps isn’t your thing, try taking a water aerobics class. We are sure you are going to find great comfort and strength in moving in the water.
Not only does Yoga require that you move and stretch, but you will also be practicing rhythmic breathing. This is going to help you navigate the waves of pain that are part of labor. Yoga can help you to be very in touch and in tune with your body, which will give you great confidence and serenity during the birthing process. Many studios offer pre-natal specific yoga. This is ideal because all of the Asanas (yoga postures) in the class will already be modified and suitable for your pregnant body. It may be a fun way to connect with other soon-to-be-mommies in your community as well.
If prenatal yoga isn’t offered where you practice, consider arriving early enough to inform your teacher that you are pregnant and may need guidance on how to modify some of the postures in class. There are also many resources available online if you are more comfortable practicing at home. Just be aware that during the later stages of pregnancy, your body will release higher levels of relaxin. This is a hormone that helps to relax the uterine wall and prepare the body for labor and delivery. Your hips may therefore be more flexible than you are used to. Just be careful not to push yourself too far, so as to avoid injury.
It sounds simple, but don’t underestimate the many health benefits of walking. Walking is a very gentle form of cardio. If done outside, the fresh air may be a great way to counter the hot flashes often experienced during pregnancy. Sometimes pregnancy brain can feel foggy or it can feel overwhelmingly chaotic and fast-paced. Going for a long walk is not only good for your body, but it has tremendous benefits for your mental health as well. You can sort through your thoughts or ease your stress and anxiety.
ELLIPTICAL & SPIN BIKE
If you were a gym-goer prior to pregnancy, chances are that you started your workouts with some form of cardio warm-up. For many, this typically involves a fast-paced walk or run on a treadmill. When you have a giant belly that weighs 20-30lbs, nothing about running is going to feel good. All of the bouncing up and down and the impact is going to cause a great amount of discomfort.
Luckily, the elliptical machine and spin bikes offer worthy alternatives. The gliding motion is continuous, so you never have the abrupt impact of your foot hitting the track. Plus, most machines have many resistance settings so you can really up the challenge. This is perfect if the weather outside isn’t ideal for a walk, or if you are looking to break a sweat.
What is your favorite way to stay in shape while pregnant?