Hello and Happy Wednesday to you! A while back someone asked me about my experiences with exercise and pregnancy. I spent some time answering her questions, and found it to be sort of therapeutic to reflect on the 18 months of my life that I’ve been pregnant, and how maintaining an active lifestyle through it benefited me. In case there are any readers out there who are also interested in my pregnancy journeys, here you go!
Before I go any further, I want to add a disclaimer. I am, in no way, an expert on this area. I can simply share my personal experiences with you, but sincerely ask that you check with your doctor or health care professional before starting an exercise regimen while you’re pregnant. There are many expectant mothers who are advised against exercise due to health reasons, and taking care of yourself and those precious babes are the first priorities hands down! I’m simply saying if you can work out while pregnant, do it. You won’t regret it!
I think what I’ll do is approach this in a questionnaire format. If there are questions on your mind that I don’t answer, please feel free to leave a comment or email me. I would love to chat with you!
Did you maintain about the same exercise routine during your pregnancy as you did prior to finding out you were expecting? If not how was it different?
In order to maintain an active lifestyle while pregnant, it needs to be something that was already part of your lifestyle before you became pregnant. My doctors told me that when you become pregnant is not a good time to suddenly start an exercise routine if you didn’t already have one in place. It can cause too much stress on your body which could affect the baby. In addition to that, from my experience I’ve learned that it takes a lot of discipline and dedication to work out consistently while pregnant because of the morning sickness, fatigue, aches and pains, ect. If working out wasn’t a priority when I was feeling normal and not pregnant, there’s no way I would have been motivated to work out amidst the many pregnancy symptoms.
What has your typical workout routine for each trimester look like? Or just give a few examples of what you have been doing.
During my singleton pregnancy, I pretty much maintained the same workouts I did before I got pregnant, but tried to make sure I kept my heart rate under 140 beats per minute which was recommended by my doctor. I ran 4 – 5 miles during each workout, and did light weight lifting. During my first trimester I was pretty sick, but tried to do something active even when I was feeling horrible, even if it was just a long walk. I found that when I got out and was active that my morning sickness went away and I felt much better. I’d say it was typical for me to run 3 times a week during my first trimester and walk the other days. During my second trimester, I got a huge burst of energy and was able to run and do free weights about 5 times a week. I kept that up into the third trimester until about 36 weeks when I changed to a mix of jogging/walking which I kept up until I delivered at 39 weeks 4 days.
During my twin pregnancy, I didn’t run as much, but did a lot of low impact cardio because running wasn’t comfortable. Probably the most important thing I’ve learned about exercise and pregnancy is that you really have to listen to your body and do what it needs. If a certain exercise causes a cramp or pain, stop doing it and find something that feels comfortable. If my body needed a nap instead of a workout, I’d take the day off! It didn’t help to beat myself up if I didn’t make it to the gym. The first and most important thing was to take care of those babies! Whenever I worked out my goal was to feel better afterward than before, and that meant I couldn’t push myself as hard as I wanted to some days. During my first trimester with the twins, I did a lot of free weights and not as much cardio because I was SO sick. Being pregnant with twins meant twice the sickness for me. I started to feel better during my second trimester and from then until the day before I delivered I worked out 4 – 5 times a week, doing about 35 – 40 minutes of cardio on the arc trainer followed by free weights. A lot of people pregnant with twins aren’t able to be active because of the high risk pregnancy and many factors that can accompany that, but thankfully I was able to maintain a pretty regular exercise routine.
Are there any specific exercises you’d recommend to women who are pregnant?
Exercises that I’ve done during both pregnancies which have made a huge difference are squats and side kicks. I’d do about 50 – 75 squat and presses with 10 lb weights during each workout, and 50 sidekicks per side. Exercises like those have helped to keep most of the weight I gained in my belly and not on my hips and thighs.
What benefits do you feel like you have gained from maintaining an active life during pregnancy? Any downsides or side effects?
1. Mentally, it helped me to maintain a sense of normalcy. While my body was changing and growing in ways it never had before, I liked that I could play a part and do my best to take care of it. Knowing that I did all I could during pregnancy to take care of myself helped me post-pregnancy to give myself grace and time to get back to normal instead of beating myself up for “letting myself go” which I’m guessing is what I would have done had I not exercised.
2. The actual labor and delivery is like running a marathon, and I was thankful that I had the stamina and energy to make it through!
3. My weight gain was in the healthy/recommended range. After each pregnancy I didn’t have to worry about losing tons of weight because most of it was necessary and came off within a few weeks after delivery. Since I didn’t have too much to lose, it also seemed attainable to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight, which was extra motivation.
I really haven’t noticed any negative aspects to exercising while pregnant. As long as I listened to my body and gave it breaks when it needed them, everything went smoothly.
How long did you wait after you delivered to start working out again? How did you ease back into it?
Outside of a few leisurely walks with the stroller, I waited the recommended six weeks (for vaginal delivery…not sure what c-section is) to work out until I was okayed by the doctor and made sure everything healed up properly. I plan to wait the same length this time. That means only three weeks more weeks from today!
With Baylen, I started by doing Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred, because it was something I could easily do at home while he slept. I’m not sure what I’ll do this time around, but since the weather will be nice I’m guessing I’ll start with some power walks/jogs.
If you have been cleared to work out during pregnancy and need a little more motivation , I’ll leave you with a link to an article from Fit Pregnancy to mull over…good stuff! 33 Reasons to Exercise Now
If you’ve been pregnant, were you able to maintain an active lifestyle? If so, what benefits did you notice?
What exercises would you recommend to pregnant women?
If you plan to be pregnant some day, do you think exercise will be a priority for you?
Thanks for hanging in there with me today! As I mentioned before, please let me know if you have additional questions about my experiences with exercise and pregnancy!