A simple Google search for “pregnancy and exercise” can bring a lot of confusing and mis-leading information. Hear from our fit mom expert, Deanna, as she explains 5 things you might not know about pregnancy and exercise.
My fourth pregnancy has been a bit of trial and error regarding pregnancy and exercise, as it has been my first pregnancy as a fit person. As a highly athletic woman pre-pregnancy, I really wanted to continue my lifestyle this time around and see what a difference it made not only for my pregnancy but for my baby. At 30 weeks pregnant, I’ve learned quite a few things about keeping up my athletic lifestyle with a baby boy along for the ride.
You CAN continue your current level of fitness well into your third trimester.
I’m not saying I’m hurdle jumping and tire-flipping like I used to, but I can work myself up to a great sweat and endorphin high, just like in the old days. It just takes less weight and movement to get me there now. Even with a fairly large bump, I still perform a daily HIIT routine complete with weights and agility drills. I’m slower, but it gets done and it still makes me feel great. Most doctors (check with yours!) now advise that you can safely maintain your pre-pregnancy routine, modifying as you go to accommodate your pregnancy.
Pregnancy is the best conditioning of your life.
What better way to condition yourself to perform your workouts at a higher level than to keep them up with a whole other person growing inside of you? It’s the ultimate conditioning of your body. Studies have even shown that women who keep up their exercise routine during pregnancy end up MORE FIT than when they started, and have a lower chance for heart disease and osteoporosis later in life than women who gave up exercise during pregnancy(http://www.ajog.org/article/S0002-9378%2808%2900546-2/fulltext).
Your baby reaps all the benefits of your workouts along with you.
It probably makes common sense to you that women who workout during pregnancy tend to have shorter, easier labors, and an easier time shedding pregnancy weight, but did you realize that the baby will have multiple benefits too? It turns out that babies whose mothers exercise during pregnancy become conditioned to physical stress, therefore feeling less stress during labor and birth. Babies whose mothers exercised also had healthier birth weights and were less likely to become overweight or obese later in life.
Peeing will be a major obstacle you face if you want to work out.
I knew I was going to have to pee all the time, this was not my first pregnancy rodeo. What I didn’t realize was how much that was going to affect my workouts! The first time I tried to run at around 4 months pregnant, the baby’s head bouncing on my bladder was so uncomfortable that I ended up actually sprinting back home just to get to the bathroom! Walks have also been a challenge, it doesn’t matter that I empty my bladder the second before I walk out the door, 10 minutes in I have to go again.
Crunches and sit-ups may seem tempting, but don’t do them.
Ab muscle separation (diastis recti) is no joke. There are several exercises you should not perform if you want to avoid or minimize this “mommy tummy”, which can be both painful and frustrating (no matter how much post-pregnancy weight you lose, your tummy will stick out). Avoid excessive twisting or rotation, plank position, sitting straight up from lying on your back, or any other position that causes your belly to have a “cone” shape. Although diastis recti can be rehabilitated, it’s easiest to avoid it happening in the first place. If you want to strengthen your core, which is important for supporting your growing uterus and for childbirth, squats, lunges, and other stabilizing lower body movements will do the job just as well.
Deanna Devine-Schober writes about her healthy pregnancy at FitToBePregnant.com. Deanna and her husband Tony are professional health and fitness bloggers (CoachCalorie.com), and Deanna is a certified nutrition coach through Precision Nutrition. For weekly pregnancy workouts, updates on the pregnancy, and nutrition and meal planning for pregnancy please join her: on Twitter (@DeannaSchober), Facebook, Instagram (@FitToBePregnant), and Pinterest.
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