We’ve come a long way. Not too long ago, women were told to avoid working out or told to keep their heart rate below a certain threshold. Now we live in a world where pregnant women are out there powerlifting or running marathons.
These women are impressive and deserve to be admired. But what about us regular women who just want to keep fit during pregnancy?
Talk to Your Doctor
It seems obvious, right? But everything else you do on this list requires the go-ahead from your Ob/Gyn. Provided you have a healthy pregnancy, your doctor should be thrilled that you want to continue exercising. It’s widely known that physical activity during pregnancy provides all sorts of benefits and keeps you strong for labor. Still, it's important that you ensure you and your baby are good-to-go before any physical activity.
Provided you have a healthy pregnancy, your doctor should be thrilled that you want to continue exercising.
Set a Fitness Goal
Sign up for a race. Or a class. Or make a weekly pilates date with your friend. That is, set a goal. Pregnancy can make you feel sluggish and unmotivated. With hormones going full steam, it can be a difficult time emotionally. Instead of waiting until post-pregnancy, have a goal to work towards now. Sure, you may not be able to run as quickly as you used to (if so, go you!), but you may surprise yourself. Be curious. See what you are capable of while you are out there. Pregnancy is a great time to rediscover the joy of movement, not just cranking out time or strength goals.
Make Friends with a Massage Therapist, Chiropractor, or Both!
Even without being physically active, being pregnant is not the most physically comfortable time. Massage can help with back and hip pain as well as give you some much-needed relaxation time. As your baby begins to grow, your back and pelvis begin to change, increasing imbalance and pain in those areas. A chiropractor can help sort you out. Check out a chiropractor who is certified in the Webster Technique, which has all sorts of benefits such as balancing your pelvis and preventing breech labor.
As your baby begins to grow, your back and pelvis begin to change, increasing imbalance and pain in those areas.
Switch Things Up
One sure thing about pregnancy: nothing goes according to plan. If you are a runner, pelvic pain may make it more difficult to run. The same can be said for an assortment of physical activity – balance issues may make it harder to ride a bike and symphysis pubis dysfunction may make it hard to just walk. This can be discouraging. Your body seems to be actively working against your best intentions. This is a good time to switch it up. Try not to set all your pregnancy fitness goals in one area. If you can't run, lift weights. If you can't lift weights, just stretch.
Drink Plenty of Water
At some point in the second trimester, you may be introduced to a common feature of pregnancy: Braxton Hicks contractions. For some, these are only a minor annoyance (if they feel them at all); for others, these can be painful. Exercise and dehydration can exacerbate Braxton Hicks, so make sure to take plenty of breaks and drink water. Add some electrolytes to your drink and watch the coffee and soda.
Exercise and dehydration can exacerbate Braxton Hicks, so make sure to take plenty of breaks and drink water.
Listen to Your Body
Another sure thing about pregnancy is that everyone has opinions they're probably a little too willing to share. Working-out can be one of those areas, but you know yourself best. When you are working out too hard, your body and your baby will tell you. Do you consistently feel wiped-out from a regular workout? Take it easy. If you feel fine or great, keep doing what you're doing.
If you search #fitpregnancy on Instagram, it will either inspire or depress you. Why? You’ll see plenty of women with perfect pregnancy bodies working out. Depending on the day, this can be entirely motivating or demotivating. What pregnancy does to our bodies is so personal. One woman can run a marathon at eight months, where another can hardly hobble three miles at eight weeks. Another woman’s pregnancy fitness standards can't be your own. Whatever you're doing, right now, is impressive enough.
Another woman’s pregnancy fitness standards can't be your own.
Pregnancy shouldn’t keep you from staying healthy and strong. It’s also a healthy way to do something for yourself during an extremely exciting and happy time that is not without its difficult moments. Find something fun to do and, most importantly, take care of yourself and your little baby, and you’ll be impressed and happy with all that you were able to accomplish during this time.