For many women, finding out that they’re expecting is a happy surprise. However, those initial feelings of joy may swiftly be followed by other feelings, such as the feeling that this pregnancy is going to really interrupt your life and force you to make such big changes in the near future. For women who are active or currently committed to a fitness routine, pregnancy can actually be a bit frustrating. This is especially true if you’re just starting to feel like you’re making progress after a long period of inactivity and poor health. Even if the pregnancy is welcome, it’s normal to be upset at the thought of giving up all your hard work.
Well, the good news is that you can continue your fitness routine during your pregnancy, although you make have to make some adjustments to accommodate your changing body and growing baby. Here are some tips for staying fit safely while you’re expecting:
(1) Try to exercise for at least a half hour on most days at a moderate intensity level. A moderate intensity level means that you feel like you’re working fairly hard, but you’re still able to carry on a conversation throughout your workout. You’ll also want to be sure that you don’t get overheated during your workout, so if you’re working out in a hot environment you might need to lower your workout intensity level to accommodate your body temperature. For this reason, it may be better to work out in an air-conditioned room or outside during morning or evening hours when the temperature is lower. Overheating is not only uncomfortable and likely to make you feel nauseous; it also carries high risks of danger to your fetus.
(2) Be sure that you’re hydrated enough. During pregnancy, your body is making (and using) all kinds of extra fluids and pregnant women need to increase the amount of water that they drink. Drinking lots of water is also more likely to keep you from overheating and some women even say that cold water helps to lessen uncomfortable morning sickness symptoms during the first trimester of their pregnancies (or longer if the symptoms persist).
(3) Adjust your workout to make sure it doesn’t include activities that may be harmful for you and your baby during your pregnancy. This includes high-impact activities or activities where you have a high risk of falling on your stomach (including skating, skiing, horseback riding, and contact sports). You should also avoid lifting heavy weights and exercises that force you to lie on your stomach or your back. Exercises that require an abdominal sport belt are also discouraged, even early in your pregnancy (when you’re not showing yet), because the pressure can cause harm to the fetus.
(4) Do start including activities in your workout that may help you during your pregnancy. Exercising your Kegel exercises is especially encouraged because Kegel exercises help during labor and strong Kegel muscles may stop urinary incontinence in late pregnancy and during the post-partum period. Yoga is also encouraged, because exercises which encourage flexibility are important as your body changes. Yoga is also thought to make labor easier because it encourages calm, centered breathing and many different yoga positions can be used during the labor process to ease the pain of contractions and encourage a fast and easy birth. You may also want to take up other low-impact activities, such as swimming, if the activities you are accustomed to are now discouraged during your pregnancy.
(5) Listen to your body. Pregnancy comes with all sorts of aches and pains, but only you can tell the difference between a normal pregnancy pain and a pain that’s been caused by an over-vigorous workout. If working out seems to be a little too rough on your body at different times during your pregnancy, be sure to take a few days to rest or check in with your doctor to make sure that everything is ok. Also, if you notice a decrease in fetal movement after a particularly strenuous workout or you experience bleeding and cramping, it’s a good idea to go see your doctor as soon as possible to make sure that your fetus is still healthy and happy.