With pregnancy comes the not so fun side effects of excess weight gain, bloating, back and pelvic pain (and many more to add to the list). While you are over the moon excited about bringing this new bundle of joy into the world, everyday life can be challenging for some during those 9 months. Whether you were a fitness guru, or just preferred to sit at home and watch your favorite Bravo TV show with some popcorn, exercising while pregnant has a long list of benefits that can influence both you and baby’s health. Let’s get started!
Exercising While Pregnant: What You Need to Know and Helpful Exercises
Should You Workout While Pregnant?
Is Working Out Safe While Pregnant?
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, pregnant woman are advised to get at least 30 minutes of exercise in each day, 5-7 days out of the week. Exercising throughout your pregnancy doesn’t only benefit your health but also your baby’s. Woman who workout regularly during pregnancy have experienced the following:
- Reduced swelling, back/pelvic pain
- Increase in energy
- Improved posture
- More restful sleep
- Were better prepared for labor
- Improved mood
Now if you religiously workout every week, keeping your fitness journey on track may come a bit easier for you. Yes, you may need to make some alterations along the way as bump gets bigger, but overall, most mommas are cleared to workout their entire pregnancy! Of course, everyone is different and consulting with your doctor in the beginning and throughout your pregnancy is recommended to ensure there are no complications and you and your baby stay safe. If the the word “workout” or “exercise” makes you want to cringe, don’t fret, there are hundreds of exercises you can perform in the comfort of your own home that are light weight and may be easier than you think. Picking up a regular routine of exercising should be focused solely on improving your health and baby’s health, not weight loss. Be sure you speak with your doctor if you are new to incorporating daily exercise into your routine. So what exactly counts as exercise? This doesn’t mean you need to hit the gym everyday. Performing light work such as vacuuming the house, gardening, or walking around counts. Creating your workout plan for the week can keep you accountable, while also staying in a routine. Setting healthy and realistic goals for yourself with help you keep motivated.
Benefits for Baby:
We know the benefits of working out for you mama, but how does it effect baby? Believe it or not, routine exercise can make a huge impact on babies health. Dana Dabelea, MD, PhD, associate professor at the University of Colorado School of Public Health conducted a study with a total of 826 mothers and their babies. She found, mothers who exercised in their third trimester gave birth to babies with less body fat, than those who didn’t exercise. Some researchers also believe babies who are born at healthier weights, containing less body fat, are less likely to be obese later in life. It has also been shown in recent studies, that mamas who workout have babies who have better heart health and stronger brain development. So if working out really isn’t your thing, use this as a little motivation to incorporate working out into your daily life!
What’s the Best Cardio I Can do
Getting that heart pumpin’ is one of the best things you can do for your body preggo or not. As for me, I used to HATE cardio. I learned to love it during my pregnancy as it doesn’t take a whole lot to benefit you. Like I said, nows not the time to be losing weight or burning fat. There’s several different ways you can also incorporate cardio into your workout routine. You can go with the old fashion treadmill performing an inclined walk or a light jog, use the elliptical or even the stair master (this ones a BURNER). I usually throw on a podcast or some upbeat music and this helps the time go by much quicker. Swimming, aerobics or even a stationary bike are also great alternatives if you’re looking to switch things up.
Can I Go To The Gym While Pregnant?
- Believe it or not, weight training is one of the best ways to reduce muscle aches or pains. This doesn’t mean you won’t be sore after a great workout, but don’t let that deter you! Strength training can be intimidating for some women. If you’re nervous to hit the gym investing in some low cost dumbbells can be great for performing workouts right in the convince of your own home. If you’re hesitant about using free weights in the gym, sticking with the machines is a great alternative. Remember, listening to your body during any exercises you perform is a must. If it hurts or doesn’t feel right, stop. There are several exercises that focus on the same muscle group(s) that can modified for pregnant women. Finding what works best for you and is most comfortable is all it takes. Simple, yet effective exercises you can perform:
- Bicep Curls: work the muscles at the front of your upper arm and muscles in your lower arm. These are great to prep you for holding baby!
- Squats: depending on how your feet are position (straight or pointed outward) will vary which muscle you’re working on (Quadriceps, glutei, adductor magnus (inner thigh), hamstrings) Great for prepping you for labor!
- Seated cable row or lateral pulldown: This exercise will focus on your upper and middle back. Our postures can become even worse when carrying around the additional weight in your belly and breasts. Performing this exercise can help improve posture while also strengthening your back.
- Chest press: This can also improve your posture along with perking up your breasts and has shown to help women breathe easier.
Stretching is so so important before and after working out. I even do it on the days where I’m not planning to go to the gym as our bodies become more stiff and joint point is a common side effect in pregnant women. Setting aside 5-10 minutes a day solely dedicated to stretching can help ease any joint or muscle pain you may be experiencing. It can also increase your bodies flexibility and prepare your body for labor. Here are a few simple stretches you can perform everyday:
- Child’s pose (modified): This will help stretch your hips and thighs while also reducing any stress. You can also use a pregnancy or birthing ball for assistance.
- Butterfly stretch: this will focus on opening the hips, and stretches the hip adductors- a muscle in your inner thighs.
- Standing pelvic tilt: Have lower back pain? This ones for you. Stand against a wall and focus on tilting your pelvis forward and lower back to the wall.
- Cat cow pose: this is similar to child’s pose only you will be on all fours. This stretch will really focus on any upper back pain or tightness you may have.
There are several changes that happen to your body throughout pregnancy. The hormones, growing belly, skin changes, mood swings, I could go on and on. I know I tended to focus so much on my body and all the changes it was going through with my first one. I think some of us forget how strong and amazing pregnancy really makes us! Embracing your new body is one of the best things you can do for you and your baby. A healthier and active mama has an endless amount of benefits for you and your baby. Always remember to stay cool, listen to your body and consult with your doctor to ensure exercise is safe for you!