Okay, I know for those of you actually going through the pregnancy experience, whether its early on in the beginning and all you can think about is your morning sickness, or maybe its almost game time and you're belly is at its max, your sore and tired...having a fitness routine may not be the top thing on your mind. But I want to give you some reasons on why staying active during pregnancy is a good idea for both you and your baby!
Research shows that following a fitness program during your pregnancy for your baby can lead to things such as healthy birth weight and the likelihood of a full term pregnancy, and evidence even shows that moms who are active during pregnancy have children with increased cognitive development. A fitness program is also significantly important for you as the mother carrying your baby. Exercising and staying active reduces the risk of complications such as preeclampsia, hypertension, gestational diabetes, weight gain, congenital abnormalities, preterm labor, and potentially miscarriage. A newly pregnant mom may be concerned about working out and not know what is safe vs. unsafe for her and the baby, but, doctors actually recommend moderate exercise. Having the proper exercising program may also reduce any pregnancy discomforts. Strengthening your pelvic floor is extremely important especially during this time, while also maintaining good cardiovascular health and has been shown to improve recovery time post labor.
Now, Im sure if you are here reading this and you yourself are pregnant, you've probably already googled 100 different articles on working out during pregnancy. Which means you've also come across a ton of myths and misinformation. I want to knock those myths out as well as give you some personal insight from two women who have personally gone through the experience of continuing their fitness journey all the way through and some common questions Ive gotten asked that they have answered.
If you didn't workout before pregnancy, you shouldn't start once you get pregnant.
Just because you weren't working out prior to becoming pregnant does not mean that you cannot start. This could actually be a reason or motivation for you to start taking control of your health. The key is to start slow, listen to your and work up form there. It may also be helpful to work with a professional personal trainer or coach that will design and develop a structured program that will be safe and beneficial for you to follow.
Exercise takes the nutrients away from the baby, so it's selfish.
This is actually just the opposite. Exercise during pregnancy has been proven to be beneficial for both the mom and baby. "A long-term study done by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists shows that moms who maintained a healthy level of exercise during pregnancy had healthier children and were also less likely to develop type 2 diabetes, learning disorders and other issues associated with childhood obesity. Additionally, a study by James Clapp in 2002 found that women who worked out in their early to mid pregnancy had higher functioning placentas than healthy women who didn't exercise during pregnancy."
Core exercises during pregnancy should be avoided because they cause abdominal separation.
There are very specific abdominal movements that you shouldn't do after your first trimester which include supine flexion core exercises. For example, crunches/sit ups. Exercises such as planks can be tolerated throughout a woman's entire pregnancy. However, each individual is different and everyone has different levels of core strength and stability. So again, you should listen to your body and manage each movement on a personal basis. What you preform during pregnancy will also take into consideration of what your existing core strength and abilities previous to your pregnancy were. While some woman may be able to preform a plank, others may not be able to hold correct form and may have to start on a different level to build up. Building a strong core foundation especially including your pelvic is going to get you through pregnancy and postpartum. I recommend speaking with your doctor before starting any kind of exercise program and following up with a personal trainer if you need additional help determining what to do.
Lifting weights while pregnant is unsafe.
Strength training is an important part of a prenatal fitness program as it will help build the strength and endurance needed to support the postural changes and weight gain that can come with pregnancy. As with anything, there are a few things that you need to keep an eye on such as correct form, reducing the weight when needed as your pregnancy progresses to compensate for your growing belly, and proper breathing techniques. Overall, most women should be able to strength train throughout their pregnancy unless their doctor tells them otherwise.
1.Were you worried about anything particular or did you have any fears or concerns when it came to fitness or nutrition?
-Toni: "Everyone has fears and possible concerns when it comes to fitness while being pregnant, but I continued to workout anyways. For me, the most important part was really and truly listening to your body and what you are capable of at the time and cutting back or going slower even though your mind is telling you to go as you usually do."
-Hannah: "To be honest, I was a little nervous about what changes would happen to my body during pregnancy. It might sound silly because its obviously such a miracle BUT having worked so hard to build a physique that I was proud of, I think its somewhat normal to feel that way- - especially going through something you've never done before! Also, my first trimester was SO hard to eat well due to so many food aversions and my body ONLY wanted carbs which made things interesting. I still tried my best to get in as much protein as possible and keep a well rounded diet because protein is the foundation of building blocks of the human body and you are building a human inside of you!
2. When it comes to fitness and mental health what is something no-one told you about that you wish you knew?
-Toni: "When it comes to fitness and pregnancy, I wish someone had told me before that the workouts for the most part (at least for myself) are not very long or intense. They are just workouts to keep your body moving and keep you in shape and of course, for your sanity.
-Hannah: "I personally struggled a lot with anxiety during pregnancy but didn't even necessarily realize it until afterwards. I had heard about PPA/PPD but not necessarily anxiety during pregnancy. So I wish that was talked about more often!
3. Did staying active really help you towards the end of pregnancy or during labor?
-Hannah: "I believe staying active helped me through my labor, though I have no other pregnancy to compare it to. But, I pushed for 3 hours and I think staying active definitely helped my endurance to do so.
4. How did you personally push through the exhaustion and daily fatigue or have ambition to do things?
-Toni: "I always got whatever I needed to be done out of the way in the morning so that if I crash in the afternoon, it won't matter. So, my workouts and productivity were a must in the morning."
-Hannah: "During my first trimester I had to workout first thing in the morning to get it done before I let my exhaustion get to me and talk myself out of the workout. But, during the third trimester, my body needed all the sleep it could get so I would typically workout during my lunch. I would schedule this on my calendar as a "meeting" so that I wouldn't skip it! My workouts were definitely shorter and I was more focused on simply moving my body and having a plan to follow so that I didn't have to think about what to do and this helped a ton. I also cut back on the number of workouts I was doing during the third trimester- rather than doing five workouts a week that I had been doing, I set my goal at four for the week and continued going for daily walks."
5. "Im afraid exercise intensity is going to hurt the baby, I'm not sure what the limit is."
-Toni: "Your body will definitely tell you what you are capable of during pregnancy and what not to do. So the intensity is totally up to each and every person. You can challenge yourself, yes, but you don't want to go too hard. If you are too concerned you should speak with your doctor or OB that will help you determine what is right.
-Hannah: "Exercise intensity will often be different - especially since your heart rate increases much quicker due to the increased blood flow in your body! I personally wore my watch during workouts and if my heart rate got above 160, I would just slow down and take a rest! Listening to your body is definitely important and I think pregnancy actually helped me with this tremendously.
6. "What advice can you give on feeling like you've set yourself back postpartum and how to deal with it mentally?"
-Toni: "Postpartum is definitely a hell of a journey. A lot of mental workers are necessary and also physical work. Reminding yourself that you have to go slow in the beginning and that your body just did something incredible is something that I have to remind myself of all the time. But it is all totally worth it. Just remember to go slow."
-Hannah: "All throughout pregnancy, I KNEW if I fueled my body well, things would take care of itself. Yes, I would have to put in the work postpartum BUT actually your number one goal postpartum is taking care of the little miracle you just created! So during pregnancy eating well will not only fuel the little babe your growing inside you, but this will be able to set you up for success postpartum too. Then, postpartum, you want to be eating properly to fuel your body to continue providing for your baby, especially if breastfeeding. With that as my MAIN goal, its made it easier to focus on more nutrient dense food choices for the most part. With that being said, even if you do your very best to take care of yourself during pregnancy, it is common that you will feel like you don't recognize yourself in the mirror post baby. That's ok! Your body has gone through so much. I personally felt like I was never going to be able to workout again the day after giving birth. My biggest tip is focussing on fueling your body rather than restricting and your body will thank you!
"Just move. You know what would actually help your fitness and health?! Starting. Believe me, we can find 39201973 reasons/excuses why not to start just yet. But I will always be the person that will give you one MORE reason why you should start exactly RIGHT NOW! It doesn't have to be complicated. It doesn't have to be badass. It doesn't have to be tremendously exhausting. But it needs to be done and it needs to start now. If you cannot run, then walk, if you cannot lift weights, then do body weight exercises. If you cannot walk outside then swim or walk in water. If you cannot lift heavy, then lift light weights. Just move, do something. You owe that to yourself! You owe that to your health!" -TONI LIVERS
"PSA- Quit acting like you can't prioritize your health because of things going on in your life- like school, work, etc... Those things make it even MORE important to prioritize YOU. Taking care of your health is meant to be a part of your LIFESTYLE, not take over your whole life. Don't quit." -HANNAH HAMMES