Before I begin this post I must put the disclaimer that I am not a personal trainer, nor am I certified in any type of fitness. I am a pregnant fit mom and I have been working out consistently with at home fitness programs for over two years. I have only done my own research, but I thought I would share some of my own tips and what I personally am doing as I get bigger and my mobility gets less. I was one of those moms who stopped ALL workouts when I got pregnant with my first baby because I didn’t want to do ANYTHING wrong or put my baby in danger, and I WISH someone would have told me all the benefits to safe exercise!
As of this blog post I am 24 weeks pregnant. My belly is growing and I am modifying more and more.
So here are some general rules and considerations that I am keeping in mind with every workout:
I am taking EVERY move MUCH slower than I am used to doing them. This is because I feel like my balance can change day by day and I do not want to risk falling over or straining muscles. Once I begin the workout slowly, I may or may not push a little harder or faster, but I am moving SLOW in each workout.
Over-hydration is my goal. I want to be DROWNING in water! This keeps me from getting lightheaded and overheating. This is a HUGE modification when I workout and is vital,vital, vital.
3) Ab Exercises
Ab exercises are really important while pregnant! The more weight that is distributed to the front of your body, the more the strain on your back and having a strong core helps tremendously. But you do have to be careful, especially in the later part of the second trimester and third. Any ab exercise that has you on your back, or is isolating one muscle group (especially your front abs) is not a safe move (like crunches). Instead I modify with either a plank (which is fine in the first and second trimester, but no in the third) or oblique exercises. Here is a great video with some good options and I just throw in one of these moves when traditional isolation ab exercises appear in my home workout videos.
4) Listening to my body
This is so key!! I am NOT trying to be a rockstar workout girl! At this point in my workouts, I am modifying almost every move, I am doing things slower, I am not jumping much, I am taking more rests – especially when I feel my heart rate start to soar. My goal is to move and sweat and feel the burn in my muscles and sometimes it doesn’t take much to get me there and that is ok! If I try a move slowly and I feel like I’m not balanced, or it’s uncomfortable or I start feeling a little dizzy, I switch to a move I know I CAN do or take a break. My default moves to go to are lunges and squats because I know that a strong lower body is helpful during labor.
Push to YOUR limit and don’t try to compete with those on the videos or what you USED to do. I am also planning to incorporate more prenatal yoga in the VERY last weeks of my pregnancy. Yoga is not only helpful in pregnancy because of the strengthening and stretching nature of the exercises but because of the way it encourages you to breathe and relax even when your muscles are SCREAMING. As one who has birthed three children naturally I have to say the BIGGEST piece of advice to help me through natural childbirth was to RELAX through the contractions. Most women get afraid when they feel the contraction coming (well I did too!) and tense their bodies up. By doing this you are working AGAINST your body and what the contraction is trying to do which is open you up. The best thing to do when a contraction is coming is to focus on your breathing, embrace the pain and let it wash over you and let the contraction WORK. Yoga helps train your mind to relax while in pain and I HIGHLY recommend it.
Whatever exercise you choose to do, I applaud your efforts to be active and healthy during this time! Any little things you can do to move and sweat and strengthen your body now will pay off BIG TIME later in labor and recovery.