Fitness and Pregnancy
So, you’re pregnant (Congratulations!). Or maybe you’re trying to conceive (Good luck!). Or maybe you’ve just had a kid and are fully submersed in that crazy, sleep-deprived parenting life (Good luck – and here’s an extra shot of espresso!). No matter what category you fall into, chances are you are looking at your fitness routine and wondering if you need to tweak it. And with good reason – conceiving, carrying, and delivering a child are insane times in a woman’s life! Your hormones are all over the place, your body is changing shape and doing weird things you’ve only seen in movies, and sleep is a long-lost friend. So how the heck do you incorporate working out into all of this? Short answer: get creative and make serious modifications to your routine. Long answer: keep reading.
Pre-Pregnancy/Trying to Conceive (TTC)
Even though you’re not pregnant yet, if you’re actively trying to get pregnant, you need to start making modifications to your workout regimen NOW. This means toning down on the high-intensity exercises, so if you’re thinking about running a marathon, think again. High-intensity routines can not only alter your menstrual cycle, they can even stop ovulation altogether! The ideal “trifecta” for working out during the TTC phase is medium-intensity cardio, strength training, and balance/stability/relaxation exercises, such as yoga. Your partner isn’t off the hook, either, as high-intensity workouts can raise the body temperature in the groin area, which can decrease sperm production. Exercising in tights or other testicle-compressing gear can also affect the health of his sperm.
The rules for working out during the TTC phase can also apply to the first trimester: NO HIGH INTENSITY WORKOUTS! These types of workouts can cause you to overheat and put undue stress on the body – not good when you’re cookin’ a little one. Medium-intensity workouts are fine, as are exercises that prepare you for “active birth,” such as squats (which allow the birth canal to open fully during second stage labor) and those focusing on core strength (strengthening abdominal and pelvic floor muscles).
When you’re in your second trimester, it’s best to avoid the supine position (lying flat on your back) while exercising. Use modifiers, such as a stability ball, or even the edge of a chair. And avoid positions where you have to lie on your belly (duh!).
By the third trimester, your pre-pregnancy workout routine will be a thing of the past. During this time, not only must you avoid supine positions while exercising, but you also need to look out for prone positions, and twisting motions. The best exercise combination is walking, workouts that focus on flexibility, and light strength training.
It is CRUCIAL you listen to your doctor’s recommendation as to when you can start working out after the baby comes (six weeks postpartum is typical, although it might be longer if you’ve had a C-section). Working out too soon can lengthen your recovery period, cause stomach muscle damage, and even affect your milk supply. And even when you do get the all-clear, that doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily have the time to work out – babies are a ton of work, after all! This means you might have to get creative with at-home workouts, or squeeze in a trip to the gym when you can (when you’re not trying to get some much-needed shut eye, of course!). Since you might not be working out as much as you would like, getting your nutrition back on track is important as well. Before you deliver, prepare healthy meals, and freeze them. That way, you’ll be able to easily grab something to dump in the crock pot between feedings and changings as your time will be limited. Moms are prepared for everything, right? This will be your first chance to prove that theory. ;-)
As always, consult with your doctor when it comes to working out and your pregnancy. Be sure to listen to your body, and if it doesn’t feel right – don’t do it! Remember, even walking is a perfectly acceptable form of exercise, and it’s better to go for a walk than not move at all. And, yes – running after the kiddos counts as exercise, too. ;-)