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As someone who was very active prior to pregnancy, it was important for me to continue being active. So, after 2 kids, here are my secrets to staying fit while pregnant!
At the time, my training was focused on weight lifting and strength training.
But here’s the thing…you CAN workout throughout your pregnancy.
In fact, exercise during pregnancy can be very beneficial! If you love yoga, keep doing yoga! If you love running, keep running!
And remember, you don’t always have to go to the gym, you can use workout videos at home, do some short garage workouts, the options are endless!
That’s what this post is ALL about.
Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or a fitness professional. I’m sharing my experience and what I learned through pregnancy, but please always consult with a professional with any questions.
Exercise during pregnancy benefits
There are plenty of benefits to workout out during pregnancy such as:
- It can help to reduce common back pains, aches, and overall pains.
- Exercise during pregnancy can help to keep you from gaining excessive weight.
- It can help to improve energy and mood.
- Could potentially help you sleep better (which we all know is almost non-existent when you’re pregnant).
- It can help you have a smooth labor and delivery experience!
One VERY important thing to keep in mind (and that you’ll see repeated throughout this article) is that you should ALWAYS take any exercise during pregnancy at your own pace.
This means modifying movements when needed, taking a longer or more frequent breaks, lowering weights, and doing less intense exercises as your pregnancy progresses.
Lastly, exercising or working out during pregnancy can potentially help you speed up the recovery process!
Now, by no means do I think ANY woman should rush trying to get back into the gym or losing weight after your baby is born.
However, if you can stay in relatively good shape throughout your pregnancy, you may just find that when you are ready, they transition for your body could be much smoother.
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How to stay fit during pregnancy
Now that we covered some of the benefits of training during pregnancy, how can you apply it so that you’re actually staying fit during your pregnancy.
1 – Pay attention to your diet and cravings
Having cravings during pregnancy is real. Sometimes, they can be crazy! Have you been craving any ‘out of the norm’ foods or drinks lately??
I remember when I was pregnant with my first, I craved meat, like legit hamburger meat like no other!
Now, I am a meat-eater, but I don’t normally want to down 4 hamburgers a day. I’m telling you the craving was intense!
I started looking into why I could be having this intense craving and talked to my doctor about it and she informed me that it could possibly be that my body was naturally seeking out a way to consume more protein or iron.
Since my prenatal vitamins contained an adequate amount of iron, I decided to watch my protein intake.
After monitoring my food consumption I found I wasn’t consuming enough protein. I slowly began increasing my protein intake when and where I could and shockingly enough my cravings decreased!
Now, I’m not saying they will disappear or go away, but I do think it’s a great concept to be mindful of as maybe your body is seeking out a way to gain some additional nutrients!
2 – Stay active, as simple as just walking during pregnancy.
Keep in mind your workouts do NOT need to be some intense training routine. The goal during pregnancy is to stay active and keep moving.
If you’re feeling drained, go for a brisk walk.
If you’re feeling full of energy, aim for your normal routine (while modifying movements and weight loads as needed for safety).
3 – Keep yourself hydrated during pregnancy
If you thought BEFORE pregnancy hydration was important, it’s even more so now!
Typically, your daily water intake increases while pregnant to help your body absorb and transport all the nutrients you’re consuming to your baby!
If you’re bored with water, you can diffuse your own flavors by adding things like fresh fruits or vegetables to make a nice refreshing drink!
Another option (one of my FAVORITES) was to make homemade smoothies! Not only did this satisfy my thirst, but it was a fast and easy way for me to consume a good chunk of my micronutrients (veggies + fruits).
Negative effects of exercise during pregnancy
Although exercise is viewed relatively safe throughout pregnancy, there are some warnings you should be cautious of when staying active & trying to stay fit throughout your pregnancy.
For instance, if you are considered having a “High-Risk Pregnancy“, your exercise should likely be limited and ONLY performed when you have doctor approval.
In addition, training at a more mild rate is going to favored over any strenuous exercise. That’s because when we exercise, our bodies require more blood flow and oxygen for our musculature, heart, and lungs (the muscles hard at work).
Since you have a growing baby in that uterus, it’s important not to take away all the attention it needs which can be done through mild training.
If you’re having side effects such as morning sickness, pelvic pains, back pains, swelling, etc… those could also be other signs you’ll want to take it easy on the workouts and focus your time and energy on helping your body get through this pregnancy.
Tips for finding the best exercise to do while pregnant:
Make sure you have medical clearance:
Obtaining medical clearance from your doctor is a MUST before continuing to exercise or workout during pregnancy.
You may not think it’s a big deal, but in a rare chance, you are high risk or possibly could have any complications, always check with your doctor first.
Select your workout routine during pregnancy carefully.
A rule of thumb is that you can continue the same style of workout throughout your pregnancy that you’ve been doing before pregnancy.
For example, if you walk 5 times a day for exercise and are 2 months pregnant looking to workout, it wouldn’t be the best idea to take on a new style of workouts such as CrossFit or powerlifting.
Your body isn’t acclimated to those kinds of movements and trying to do that while making a baby is not ideal.
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Identify a clear goal during these workouts:
The OVERALL goal when working out during pregnancy shouldn’t be to achieve a certain physique or weight loss.
Instead, it should be focused on remaining active and healthy during your pregnancy. Weight gain will happen, it’s a normal part of pregnancy.
UNLESS your doctor tells you to watch or try to lose some weight, trying to burn off fat like crazy isn’t something you should be obsessing about.
Stay active, keep your blood flow going and eat an overall balanced diet. The rest can be a priority AFTER your healthy baby is born & you’ve FULLY recovered from the experience.
Finding the motivation to exercise during pregnancy
Yeah. It’s true. Most of the days I workout I don’t always feel like doing it. In fact, some days I hate the thought of doing a workout.
BUT I do it because I know it’s healthy for my body, it’s healthy for my baby and I always feel accomplished after knocking out a workout.
Don’t be down on yourself because you feel extra tired or lazy, we’ve all been there and it’s totally OK; you’re making a baby for crying out loud!
And if you are working out, but just don’t feel right, stop! Take a break and if you need to call it a rest day, then do it!
Listening to your body could never be more important than now!*
Is strength training ok to do during pregnancy?
In regards to Strength Training – it is a great way to keep your muscles STRONG and ready to start baring that extra weight associated with carrying your growing baby!
It also can be a great way to help minimize some of those classic muscular aches & pains associated with pregnancy as you’re keeping those muscles strong and conditioned for all these changes occurring!
Unfortunately, the hormone relaxin that’s responsible for many of the joint aches and pains can still cause you issues, but you might find that maintaining your overall strength just aids to minimize those aches at times.
You’ll likely be very in-tune with your body and it’s breathing/bracing techniques!
Having some back pain? Try using a belly support band. I actually ended up using this exact one during my third trimester and it helped me so much! My back and pelvic pain were getting so horrendous, it was the only way I could get around.
To keep things fun, you could reach out to some of your friends or other pregnant mama’s and see if they’d be interested in doing some small group workouts!
Sometimes it’s nice to have a workout buddy to help hold you accountable while lifting weights like a bad@ss mama!
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Exercises to avoid during early pregnancy
Despite most exercises being safe in moderation, there are a couple of exercises considered to be a big no-no (especially if you’re not an advanced or experienced active individual).
- Exercises that require a lot of balance (bosu balancing moves, gymnastics, skating, etc…)
This is because your body naturally will be at an off-shift of balance. Avoiding exercises and activities that can increase your chances of falling is extremely important!
- Exercise movements that require you to lay flat on your back for long periods of time.
Laying on your back for long periods of time while pregnant can increase the chance of your uterus compressing large vessels reducing the circulation to your baby, this is something you definitely want to avoid from happening!
- Hot Yoga, Saunas, or Outdoor Exercises in the Heat
Naturally, your body’s temperature will already be increased as it’s growing your little bundle of joy.
Raising your temperature too much can actually cause your blood flow to detract from the uterus in an effort to cool off your body, therefore avoiding excessive heat is a MUST!
So, is exercising to stay fit during pregnancy safe?
The big-picture answer is yes, exercising during pregnancy is safe when performed with the appropriate precautions.
No matter what training you end up doing during your pregnancy, just know that being ACTIVE and remaining HEALTHY is the main goal.
Do what works best for YOU, YOUR BABY and of course with approval from your doctor/medical professional!
Lastly, be sure to consult with your doctor and/or a reputable fitness professional to help devise a plan if you need help on your own.