Becoming a mom was the best thing that ever happened to me, but it didn’t come without a cost. My body changed. My hormones went crazy. And some of the changes were permanent.
The entire time I was pregnant, women would tell me horror stories about pregnancies and birth traumas. My biggest fear was staying fit while pregnant and how quickly I would be able to bounce back after my child was born. I was determined to make sure that any “damage” done from the pregnancy was minimal and that I had the best chance to get my body back as quickly as possible.
How did I do that? Through the power of fitness.
The more fit you are and the more you exercise through pregnancy, the less damage you’ll do to your body and the quicker you will return to pre-pregnancy form. Some people will tell you that you shouldn’t exercise during pregnancy, but that’s not true. If you are having a healthy pregnancy (no complications), exercise is essential.
Here are six simple tips to follow for safe, effective exercise during pregnancy.
- Do not overheat during the first trimester. Limit activities that raise your core temperature above 102 degrees because more than 10 minutes of elevated heat can cause problems with the fetus, according to KidsHealth.org. Overheating could be caused by running outside in hot weather or training in a gym without air conditioning. If mom is getting nauseated from the heat, she needs to cool it down.
- Don’t lie on your back during the second trimester. After about 20 weeks, when a pregnant woman lies on her back, the uterus is large enough that it lies on top of the inferior vena cava, explains Cleveland Clinic OBGYN Salena Zanotti, M.D. Pressure on this blood vessel can lead to less blood flow to yourself and the baby. Instead of lying horizontally, you can do some incline bench press and incline push-ups, but be mindful of how much time you’re spending in these positions.
- If it hurts, don’t do it. If anything hurts — such as your hips, knees or back — stay away from working these bodyparts in the gym. Being pregnant isn’t a time to “tough it out” or try to push your limits — all you’ll do is worsen the pain.
- If it feels good, do it. If you don’t have a problem with pull-ups or if lunges feel good for you, go after it. Just watch your form, be aware of your body and don’t overdo it.
- Bring water and snacks. After 45 minutes, pregnant women can get hypoglycemic, so keeping water and a snack around is a must. If you don’t have a snack on hand, limit workouts to stay within that 45-minute period.
- Stick with what you know. It’s not a good idea to try a new training technique or piece of advanced equipment for the first time while pregnant. It just isn’t worth the risk.
That’s it — nothing too complicated. Do your best, using the tips above combined with common sense. And remember, the greater your level of fitness, the better the pregnancy experience.