While pregnant, approach working out with caution. It is a great way to prepare for labor and childbirth and helps to level out your pregnancy hormones and emotions. Everyone, from the regular exerciser to a former couch potato looking to get moving, should follow some standard guidelines for working out while pregnant. To keep you and your baby safe, check out our recommendations below.
First and most important: check with your health care provider! Women who exercised regularly prior to pregnancy can most likely continue working out as before with minor modifications. Sometimes, for both previous gym regulars and couch potatoes alike, working out may not be good for you (depending on complicated pregnancy, unfamiliarity, etc.), so please check with your doctor. If you didn’t workout prior to conceiving and you get the green light to exercise from your physician, there are great free online workout videos available for pregnant beginners to ensure you have a fit pregnancy.
Be sure to consume extra calories. A balanced diet rich in whole, organic foods is vital to nourish and strengthen your body. Expect to gain weight as your baby grows. Losing baby weight is not your goal while working out while pregnant. The amount of weight gain that is healthy for you will depend on your pre-pregnancy weight. Prepare to eat 300 calories more than what you ate pre-pregnancy if your BMI is healthy (ranging from 18.5 – 24.9). If you are a beginner (did not workout pre-pregnancy) than you ay need to increase your additional calorie intake more than 300 calories. The best person to consult when planning your diet and exercise while pregnant is your doctor. They will also track and monitor your body throughout your fit pregnancy.
Please avoid dangerous sports that include any contact or that may disturb your balance causing you to fall over (horseback riding, skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, etc.) Stationary bikes, elliptical machines, and walking on a treadmill at an incline are great options for cardio. Kettle bell workouts and beginner Barre workouts are ideal for keeping you toned during your fit pregnancy. Keep in mind that during pregnancy, your levels of a hormone relaxin will loosen ALL ligaments and joints in your body. Looser joints and ligaments will make you more susceptible to sprains, injury, and overstretching.
The increased relaxin in your body makes the ‘warm-up’ pertinent to keeping you and your developing baby safe. Warm-ups build your heart rate up slowly, and more importantly for pregnant women, prepare your muscles and joints for exercise. Also avoid strained muscles, torn ligaments, and post workout aches and pains by including a warm-up.
Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. Drink water before, during, and after working out. If you become dehydrated, you can cause contractions and raise your body temperature (which at some levels are dangerous for your baby). Try to drink 1 cup (8 ounces) pre-workout, 1 cup every 20 minutes while exercising, and 1 cup post-workout.
Vital to the baby’s blood flow is constant movement. Standing in one place too long, like during yoga or weight lifting, blood flow to the uterus decreases and can cause blood to pool in your legs, resulting in dizziness. Avoid this by continuing to move positions or walking in place. Keep in mind that working out while pregnant is different than working out otherwise. During pregnancy, you should aim to work your body, not push it. Try to make sure you are able to carry on a conversation and never ‘push through the pain’ like you might otherwise do (there is plenty of time for that in postpartum weight loss). If something hurts or feels wrong, stop. When completing a workout incorporate a cool-down. Slowly decreasing your heart rate prevents sore muscles and is healthy for the heart. Walk for 5-10 minutes and do some pregnancy friendly stretching.
Consistency is your friend. Keeping a regular workout regimen will ensure a fit pregnancy throughout. Doing regular exercise is easier on your body than sporadically working out. During pregnancy, your body is continuously growing and changing. Working out regularly while pregnant will help you build up your muscles and joints so you can continue to exercise later on in your pregnancy without overexertion. Aim for 30minutes or more of moderate exercise most days (with your providers consent).
Staying fit while pregnant is not only beneficial for labor, childbirth, and hormones, but it will also speed up your ability to lose weight after pregnancy. Weight loss after pregnancy can be challenging, but it you maintain your fitness level while pregnant, it can be a breeze. Focus on keeping your baby and yourself fit and healthy now, and later we will help you with postpartum weight loss.