But fear not, my fellow pregnant gals, I’ve spoken to the experts in town, and I’ve got some tips for us all.
Understand the Benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like people telling me what to do without an explanation. Thankfully, my doctors and my trainers have been clear – staying physically active during pregnancy not only helps you and baby while in the womb, it also helps you prepare for that monumental event called labor and delivery!
Cat Noble, a pregnancy and post-natal fitness specialist, as well as owner and master trainer of The Barre Code, says that exercise during pregnancy offers multiple benefits for mom and baby.
“Exercise helps you sleep better, lowers your chances for complications like pre-eclampsia or gestational diabetes, and in general can just ease some of the discomforts of pregnancy,” states Noble.
Consider Your Pre-Pregnancy Fitness Level
Talking with your doctor and being realistic about your current fitness level is incredibly important, according to Certified Health Education Specialist and personal trainer Neika Nix. If you weren’t training to become a contestant on America’s Ninja Warrior prior to pregnancy, you probably don’t want to start now that you’re with child.
“For women who were not exercising before getting pregnant, and who get clearance from their doctor, I’d recommend getting moving as soon as you feel up to it by beginning a walking program, swimming (yay for buoyancy!) or stationary cycling,” said Nix.
Respect Your Belly
As you advance from one trimester to the next, your physical activity will change as your body becomes more limited.
“Once you are mid-way through the second trimester, and in the third trimester, certain exercises will become difficult, and you will need to avoid those activities,” said Whitney Pape, a group exercise coordinator at The University of Alabama. “The biggest thing to avoid during these times are exercises involving lying on your back or stomach. You will need to avoid all abdominal and low back exercises. Planks are still fine with modifications as needed.”
Pape also recommends attending a pre-natal yoga class and walking frequently to increase blood flow.
Give Your Body Grace (and Avoid Comparison)
Yes, exercise has multiple positive effects for mom and baby, but always remember that your body and pregnancy are completely unique from someone else’s experience.
Cat Noble explains it this way.
“Be kind to yourself. You are literally growing a life inside your body. Your pregnancy is not identical to anyone else's, nor should it be. On days when you don't feel like you're making progress, don't look a certain way, or feel good at all, know that you are creating a human and that is enough. You are enough,” Noble said.”
“And don't you dare ever search #fitpregnancy on Instagram unless you're planning on training for the CrossFit games two weeks after birth.”
For more information regarding physical activity during pregnancy, visit americanpregnancy.org, and always consult with your doctor about exercising during your pregnancy.