I am a group fitness instructor and I am frequently asked by pregnant women in my class how they should change their exercise routine during the pregnancy. You too may be wondering what changes you will need to make to your exercise routine when you find out you are pregnant. During my first pregnancy I had read about not doing any abdominal work and not lifting my hands over my head among other things. These restrictions have since been proven as myths and now most in the health and fitness world would encourage pregnant women to keep up their pre-pregnancy routines with only a few modifications. However, it is always important to first see your healthcare provider before beginning or continuing any excercise program when you become pregnant.
Generally, the only suggestions I have for my participants concerning changes to their routine are the following:
1. Listen to your body and don’t push too hard.
If you are like me, pushing through the pain is part of nearly every workout. No pain, no gain, right? Well not when you are pregnant. The goal of exercise during pregnancy is not to chisel your body or loose weight, but to benefit yourself and your baby. If you are in pain or are feeling unwell while exercising during pregnancy, stop! Give yourself a few days rest and check in with the doctor. If he/she gives you the green light and you are feeling up to it, then give it another shot. Maybe your routine is too vigorous for your pregnant body and you may want to try something new like swimming or yoga.
2. Don’t do anything that is uncomfortable for you, even if it is considered safe
I planned to keep running through my entire second pregnancy but by 6 months I was already big enough that it was uncomfortable due to the bouncing. I also noticed jumping jacks and jump rope motions were almost unbearable. Generally bouncing is not unsafe for healthy, pregnant women, but it wasn’t worth it for me. If you find anything uncomfortable, find another routine that works for you. For example, from 6 months on I stopped running, but continued to do high impact aerobics with several modifications and a lot less intensity.
3. Drink more water than you think you need
Drinking water during exercise is always important, but staying hydrated while pregnant is vital! Drink more than you think you need and make sure to stop if you feel dehydrated- lightheaded, dry mouth, unusual weakness.
4. Expect to be worn out after exercise
Although overall exercise gave me more energy during pregnancy, the mornings after I worked out my energy was gone. If I had anything planned for the rest of the day, I would have to skip the exercise in order to save my energy for that event. Not everyone may feel this way, but with your body working overtime, don’t expect to be able to keep up the same non-stop working days that you had before baby. Try and get extra rest, and if at all possible, plan a time to sit and relax on the days you work out.
Exercise during pregnancy has many benefits for both mom and baby. The key is finding the right routine for your body and making sure to pay attention to what your body is telling you. For more in depth medical information concerning exercise during pregnancy, there is a great article on Webmd. Take a look and prepare yourself for a healthy pregnancy!