Believe me ladies, I understand how difficult it is to maintain your activity level when you are pregnant. No one expects you to. But there is a lot of pressure from outsiders including doctors, nurses and loved ones who encourage all expectant moms to be healthy, have low blood pressure and reduce stress. The best way to do all those things is to be active. Activity doesn’t have to be an hour of running or a high intensity aerobic class. In fact, just thirty minutes a day of moderate activity has shown to improve so many facets of pregnancy. Keeping the body moving reduces the aches and pains associated with carrying another human being like back pain, sciatica, insomnia and constipation. In addition, exercise is proven to reduce labor pains, shorten labor, strengthen the pelvic muscles used during the “push phase” and everyone’s favorite: faster postpartum recovery and return to pre-pregnancy size. These are just a few of the many benefits one receives by adding exercise to your daily routine while pregnant.
Yoga is my personal favorite. You won’t be able to do all of the same poses you did prior to pregnancy but you should be able to keep up most of the same momentum and just modify where need be. I recommend a pre-natal yoga class, but if there isn’t one offered near you, or if you really enjoy the instructor you have been going to for years, you can attend any yoga class that is convenient. Most experienced instructors should be well trained in modifications for pre-natal moms but, just remember to avoid any twisting poses and supine exercises in the third trimester.
Strength training is another incredible way to maintain strength and muscular endurance. This doesn’t mean lifting heavy weights, in fact, body weight exercises are highly effective and recommended for most moms to be. Squats, lunges, planks, bridges, push ups and dips are great full body moves that help tone and tighten pretty much everywhere on the body. If you do decide to use weights, try to keep the weight to a minimum only using light-weight dumbbells along with high repetitions. This improves muscular endurance and creates that nice, toned look many women desire to achieve. Remember to never put a weight over the head, neck or chest/abdomen area once in the third trimester in order to protect that area and avoid any trauma to the abdomen.
Aerobic training should be the number one thing you maintain while pregnant. Many women are worried to exercise once they discover they are expecting, but you should be able to continue any activity you had been doing prior as long as you have medical clearance. It’s very important to get a check up and determine there are no reasons why you shouldn’t be exercising. Aerobic activity includes walking, running, swimming, biking, dancing or elliptical training. These are all great ways to increase cardiovascular endurance which is not only good for the heart and lungs of the mother but the baby too. It’s best to pick an activity that you enjoy the most and stick with it for as long as you can. If you really enjoy an aerobic class at your local gym, keep taking it and just modify as your pregnancy progresses. Similar to yoga instructors, group exercise instructors can give you low impact modifications for anything they show in class. This way you can continue you exercise regimen and listen to your body.
There will be days that you just don’t feel like working out. Trust me, I have more of those days now that I am well into my third trimester. Be cautious and listen to your body. There are lots of ways to remain active without going to the gym. Walking to the store, the park or even around the mall holiday shopping all are included in being active. If you feel faint, dizzy, short of breath or experience vaginal bleeding, contractions or decreased fetal movement, make sure you stop exercising and consult your doctor. Always keep your well being and your baby’s well being as your number one priority and hopefully you can have a healthy, happy and active pregnancy, labor and delivery. Enjoy being a new mom!