*Disclaimer: Though I am a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist, it is of the utmost importance that you consult your doctor before embarking upon ANY fitness program.*
Pregnancy fitness tips are popping up everywhere and for good reason. More and more women are realizing the importance of keeping up with their fitness throughout their pregnancies. There are several benefits in doing so:
1) Pregnancy is tough enough on your mood and emotions. Keeping your workouts involved in your daily routine can help stabilize those emotions and keep your mood positive.
2) You are keeping your body physically strong throughout your pregnancy, when your body needs you the most. Your body is creating a life. This takes copious amounts of work and strength and by maintaining your fitness, you are staying strong for you AND baby.
3) When it’s time to deliver that baby, no part of you will regret staying strong. Giving birth takes work! You’ll be thankful that you have the strength and endurance to get you through that process.
I want to tell you a quick story. Currently, I am in my second pregnancy and if there is anything I learned from my first, it is to make keeping my fitness a priority. When I delivered my baby, I was in labor for just over 12 hours and pushed for roughly two and a half of those. In the end we had to vacuum my daughter out, as she was turned face up. So despite all my pushing efforts, it was just a hard time. In that two plus hours of pushing and pain, while it was certainly tiring, in the end I was still able to push her out with a little help from the vacuum. The doctor told me afterwards that without a doubt, it was because of my strength that we were able deliver without doing a c-section. I was SO THANKFUL that I kept up my workouts throughout my pregnancy.
Now, all that being said, you’ll want to be smart about your fitness. Here are some pregnancy fitness tips to help you stay fit while staying safe throughout your pregnancy.
Pregnancy Fitness Tip #1: Do what you have done and avoid too much new stuff.
In other words, whatever you have been consistently doing prior to pregnancy, you should be fine to do during pregnancy (with modifications as you go along of course).
In my first pregnancy, I had just started getting intrigued by CrossFit and wanted to get in and see what it was all about. I had done my fair share of HIIT and other tough workouts but never CrossFit.
However, when I found out I was pregnant, I decided to hold off. My body was doing enough adjusting as it was. This was NOT the time to start getting into CrossFit.
In this pregnancy, I really wanted to run a half marathon popular in the city to which we just moved. Lo and behold, I find out I’m pregnant. Again, I’ve done plenty of running but my longest runs recently were not more than six miles. With my sickness on high, I knew trying to tack on significantly more miles in a short period of time wasn’t going to do my baby, or me, any favors.
The result? I’ve done well. In fact, I even feel like I’m getting stronger in some areas.
Pregnancy Fitness Tip #2: Never worked out? Start small and slow.
Again, let me reiterate, YOU MUST SPEAK WITH YOUR DOCTOR FIRST. Once you get the green light, start with something simple like walking. Start out a few days a week for about 20 minutes. Don’t make it too strenuous.
As that gets easier and more routine, you can add more days and/or a longer duration.
With your doctors blessing, you could even add some squats and lunges using just your bodyweight. Strengthening that lower body will do you all sorts of favors in nine months. However, I can’t say enough how important it is you speak with your doctor first and foremost.
Pregnancy Fitness Tip #3: Listen to your body.
No matter what your fitness level may be as you enter into your pregnancy, you must always listen to your body. Your body is your barometer. If you listen to it, it will tell you whether or not you need a break. Some days, hopefully most days, you will feel healthy and strong.
Rest is important. Your body is creating a human life after all. As they say “it’s not about you anymore.”
During your pregnancy, your ligaments will also begin loosening. This is your body’s way of preparing you for the “stretch” of carrying and delivering your bundle of joy. With this loosening, you need to be extra cautious to prevent injury. Stick to the golden rule of exercise: if it hurts, stop.
Remember also that given the choice between undertraining and overtraining, always side with undertraining.
Pregnancy Fitness Tip #4: Modifications will be necessary.
As with listening to your body, it won’t matter your level of fitness or what you have done before, modifications will be absolutely necessary. This is especially true as you move further along in your pregnancy.
For example, exercises that have you in supine position (on your back) are highly discouraged. That means no more crunches!
There is also some debate on plank position exercises during pregnancy. Once again, it’s important to listen to your body. If it doesn’t feel good, is uncomfortable, or your doctor advises against it then it’s a no-no. If in doubt, leave it out! It’s that simple.
Prone position (on your stomach) exercises will definitely cease for obvious reasons.
If you are a die-hard yogi, you will want to check with your instructor and doctor on what poses are a no-no for mama-to-be.
Push-ups may be an exercise that need modification. You might need to do them on your knees or on an incline, even against a wall. You’ll still get some benefits but in a safer manner.
Jumping type exercises (tuck jumps let’s say) will likely come to an end as you go along, though that will be your call to make.
The ability to do all these moves will be different from one person to the next. We all experience different pregnancies and our bodies respond in their own way. You will know what needs modifying and when. Don’t be “too strong” to modify. It’s for the safety of you and, more importantly, your baby.
Pregnancy Fitness Tip #5: Be comfortable.
You don’t have to force yourself into your normal workout clothes. Save them from being stretched out and from moments of discomfort. There are companies that specialize in making maternity fitness wear.
One of my favorites is For Two Fitness. They have pants, capris, shorts (running and yoga), and the most adorable tanks and shirts: “Running for Two”, “Toning for Two”, “Sweating for Two”, and more. Even a few things for those of you working out for three!
Another company I like is Mumberry. They are neat because they build a maternity support band into their apparel.
And finally, Gabrialla makes some of the best maternity wear and are more than worth the purchase.
You definitely need to check out the Gabrialla Maternity Belt. In my first pregnancy it took me a while to finally pick one up but not this time. I started wearing that bad boy almost immediately. I like to call it the “belly bra,” It helps lift and hold your sweet belly while you tear it up at the gym, on the roads, or wherever you are attacking your workout. It also helps support your lower back. I will wear mine if I am on my feet for a long period of time or even cleaning around the house. It’s a great support throughout your entire pregnancy.
Pregnancy Fitness Tip #6: Stay flexible my friends.
I mentioned earlier the whole ligament loosening thing. Well it’s real and you need to be careful, but working on your flexibility throughout your pregnancy is a great idea. When delivery time comes, you may be surprised that all the sudden, for the first time in your life your knees are touching your forehead. Flexibility will make this much easier during labor and for recovery afterwards.
I highly recommend taking a prenatal yoga class and/or collecting a prenatal DVD or two, like BarreAmped Prenatal Workout and Fit & Sleek Prenatal Physique . It will also provide a great way for you to relax on days that seem rough (and they do exist).
Pregnancy Fitness Tip #7: Use your resources.
This journey is absolutely not one that you must go at alone. Fitness during pregnancy gets much more support now than it used to and for good reason. There are plenty of classes to attend and videos to watch. In fact, Beachbody On Demand even features workouts for each trimester featuring Autumn Calabrese (of 21 Day Fix fame) as your trainer. The world supports fit pregnancies so take advantage of the love that gets poured over you as you create another person to make our world a better place.
Pregnancy Fitness Tips: Conclusion
Pregnancy is one of the greatest things we are capable of doing as women. At times it feels great and at other times, not so much.
Keeping yourself healthy and strong is one way you can add more great feelings throughout your pregnancy, not to mention make your delivery and recovery a tad bit easier.
Furthermore, staying/being fit while pregnant makes getting back into shape afterwards much easier.
I can say that having been fit, then having a baby, then getting back in shape, and now going through my second pregnancy, I have NEVER had a greater appreciation of what the human body is capable of accomplishing.
Creating a life is pretty huge and anything else almost feels easy… almost. This is one of the reasons I was able to get in even better shape after my first baby than I was… pregnancy is so hard it put fitness into perspective.
So enjoy the journey, even the bad days, and throw in a little sweat to keep it fun!