Sleep or exercise?
Most pregnant women would pick sleep. I know I often wanted to.
However, experts will agree on this – exercising during pregnancy can make a difference. There are plenty of benefits – including less back pain, oft times an easier labor, more energy, and even the possibility of returning to your pre-pregnancy body earlier. Exercise during pregnancy should be approached with caution though. It’s probably not the time to start a career in body building or train for a marathon. Here are some simple rules for safe exercise during pregnancy.
Talk to your Doctor
You know how on all those diet and exercise commercials, they have a disclaimer that says something like, “Please consult with your doctor before starting a new exercise or diet plan”? Well, it’s the same thing with pregnancy. More times than not, your physician will advise you to keep up with the exercise you were doing before, and maybe just take it a little easier.
However, it’s still important to discuss exercise during your appointments. If you have a high-risk pregnancy, there may be more limitations. Or, they may be able to give you some tips for making it more comfortable. If you have never exercised a day in your life, that doesn’t mean you can’t start during pregnancy! Your doctor can advise you to the best exercises to start with.
During the first trimester, exercise may not be too difficult (unless, of course, you are sick!) However, as your belly expands, you should consider slowing down a little bit as well. Some women can exercise rather vigorously throughout their entire pregnancy, while others may find themselves struggling to walk up the stairs. That’s okay! Just listen to your body, and if you start to overdo it, just switching things up. Here are a few ideas:
- Walking: When all else fails, this is a great way to stay active during pregnancy. It’s also the best exercise to start with if you hadn’t been very active prior to pregnancy.
- Water Exercises: I had a guest post written a while back about water exercise during pregnancy. It’s a good read. I think water exercises can be some of the most soothing! With Jack, I spent the last several weeks doing water aerobics. With Oliver, I swam quite a bit. It was definitely less intense than some things.
- Yoga and Pilates: You do have to modify some of these exercises a little bit, but they can be great for helping you relax and even prepare for labor. Be sure to check out some of my favorite pregnancy exercise videos.
Wear the Right Clothes please ignore my puffy pregnancy face!
This is so, so important. Let me tell you, wearing the wrong clothes while you exercise during pregnancy can result in feeling awkward, frumpy, and just plain uncomfortable. Make sure you wear loose-fitting clothes that are breathable. There’s no need to wear the tightest outfit around. You want to make sure you wear a sports bra that is supportive. There are plenty of places that sell maternity sports bras, so invest in one.
You also want to make sure your outfits support your growing belly, and that you have shoes that offer good support as well.
Right before my third trimester, my exercise clothes started to fit a little more snug. I headed over to Sport’s Authority to check out what kind of clothes they had to offer. I was thrilled to see that the Champion GEAR exclusively at Sports Authorityl was on sale – buy one, get one-half off.
While they didn’t offer maternity specific clothing, I was excited to see the options they did have. I was able to find some really comfortable shirts that were breathable and designed to wick away sweat. It was light as well, which is essential during a summer pregnancy. I also found a couple of pairs of very comfortable fitness pants. They were stretchy enough in the waist that they could expand with my belly, and I can even wear them still, even though I’m back to my pre-pregnancy size.
I actually enjoyed working out again once I got these new items – and, if I’m being 100% honest, I practically lived in both these pairs of pants for the rest of my pregnancy. They are both so comfortable! Comfort = key in pregnancy. Drink Water
Water is always important, but it’s especially crucial during pregnancy. You need to drink even more water as a pregnant person, and if you are going to be working out and sweating, you have to stay on top of it. You can easily become dehydrated during pregnancy, and the consequences of becoming so aren’t fun. If you have trouble drinking water (I sure did. I got pretty sick whenever I drank too much), try putting lemon slices or strawberry in it.
Avoid your Back
You probably know that during pregnancy, it’s recommended that you avoid laying flat on your back. There is the potential of causing some problems if you do it too often. So, avoid doing any exercises that require you to lay straight on your back.
Warm Up and Cool Down
This is good advice for anyone – don’t just jump into exercising. It’s important to make sure your muscles are properly warmed up and given time to relax after a workout. This can help ease you into a workout as well, which is much better than
Don’t Overdo It
Pregnancy isn’t a time to try and lose weight or try and get in the best shape of your life. While exercise is very important during pregnancy, you don’t need to overdo it! Pay attention to your heart rate, how hard you are breathing, and if you ever start to feel faint, stop! It’s not worth pushing yourself to the point of exhaustion or fainting.
When you are pregnant, it is recommended you eat around 300 calories more a day, if you start at a normal weight. If you exercise, you will obviously be
Involve your Family
There are many times during my pregnancy where I did not want to exercise. What helped motivate me the most was having Jack say to me, “Mommy, can we go to the gym,” or “Mommy, can we play a sport outside?” Involving your family in exercising makes it easier to do, and, quite, honestly more fun. You can do something as simple as going on walks together (we did this on an almost daily basis right up until the end!) Jack loves when we go outside and hit the tennis ball together! Just keep moving Don’t feel bad if you can’t exercise at the same pace that you did before. The important thing is that you keep moving. It may seem tempting to just lay around rather than put on your running shoes and go for a walk, but I promise, it’s worth doing. Exercising always lifted my mood when I was pregnant!
Katie is a Colorado-native, BYU graduated, and most importantly, wife to one and mother to three beautiful boys. She is passionate about sharing her experiences with others – especially about pregnancy, breastfeeding, cooking, and crafts. She is currently training to be a Certified Lactation Educator. She loves spending time with her family and helping others find joy in family life.