Mamas-to-be hear plenty about the importance of staying fit during pregnancy, and there’s plenty of reason to spread the word: exercising during these nine magical months can do everything from prevent back pain to boost your mood. And that’s not all. Working out while pregnant can also lead to better sleep, healthy weight gain, and even a shorter and easier labor and delivery. But as much as you hear about why you should exercise, the “how” part can often be elusive — particularly when you’re suffering from morning sickness, swollen ankles, and any number of other maternity-related maladies. These five tips can help you overcome these obstacles and reach your pregnancy fitness goals.
1. Diet Matters
While the Mayo Clinic reveals that there’s no “magic formula for a healthy pregnancy diet,” the usual principles of healthy eating apply, such as sticking with a plant-based diet with plenty of lean protein and healthy fats.
If healthy eating has not been a priority until now, here’s your chance to bump nutrition to the top of your list in order to ensure that both you and your baby enjoy good health.
But even if eating right has long been your priority, your pregnancy diet may require some fine-tuning. Protein, folic acid, vitamin D, and iron are particularly important for pregnant women. Many women — even those who typically enjoy a healthy diet — fall short on these essential nutrients during pregnancy, making prenatal vitamins a must.
Don’t forget to drink plenty of water, too. Staying hydrated can do everything from help relieve morning sickness to preventing urinary infections — all of which can ensure you’ll also be healthy enough to get in your workout.
2. Calories Count
It’s not just about what you eat during pregnancy, but also how much. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), pregnant women require about 300 additional calories a day. (This varies if you begin your pregnancy overweight or underweight and/or are carrying multiples, so be sure to check with your doctor.)
Many women mistakenly think of pregnancy as a time to indulge their inner ice cream enthusiast. As with everything in life, moderation is key when it comes to cravings. The extra calories you take in should largely come from nutritious foods in order to best benefit your baby.
3. Enjoy Your Exercise
When exercise is a chore, it’s harder to find the motivation to persevere — particularly during pregnancy. However, research indicates that deriving enjoyment from exercise is directly linked to whether you’ll keep up with your workout regimen.
If you’ve always loved to run or do zumba, most healthcare professionals agree that it’s safe to continue with these activities throughout a normal pregnancy, although some modifications may be required as your belly expands. (Again, check with your doctor to verify that your exercise regimen is safe.)
Many people find that exercise is better with a partner. Whether you grab a pregnant friend for that pre-natal yoga class you’ve been dying to try or simply take a stroll around the neighborhood with your partner, working out with good company can turn a drag into a delight.
4. Make it Muscle
While aerobic exercise is essential to heart health, it’s also critical to focus on maintaining muscle. As a complement to cardio, strength training keeps excess weight gain at bay while keeping your metabolism moving.
Strength training can also help prepare your body for the rigors of labor while reducing the debilitating muscle pains and aches which are often associated with pregnancy.
5. Dress for the Occasion
Are you up for a big night on the town when you’re wearing a baggy tee and sweatpants? Of course not. The same sentiment applies to working out while pregnant.
The happier you feel with your pregnancy wardrobe, the more motivated you’ll be to follow through on your fitness regimen. Not to mention that as your body grows and changes, your pre-pregnancy activewear may no longer be as comfortable or practical. Investing in a few key pieces can help you look and feel your best. Get your money’s worth by seeking out items designed to grow with you throughout your pregnancy and into your “fourth trimester.”
Committing to a fit pregnancy benefits you and your baby in innumerable ways. By keeping this important fact in mind and by following these five tips, you can stay on track with your fitness goals and give your baby a great head start in life. Let For Two Fitness help with our comprehensive line of chic, comfortable, bump-celebrating maternity activewear. Are you a mama-to-be or new mother with a fit pregnancy tip of your own? Please share your experiences in the comments section below.