Fitness During Pregnancy
It used to be that pregnant moms were expected to never strain or work. These expectations were based on tradition and unfounded fears, and you should know that it is absolutely safe and optimal to exercise during a low risk pregnancy!
DO NOT EXCERCISE WITHOUT YOUR DOCTOR’S OVERSIGHT IF YOU HAVE ANY HIGH RISK FACTORS! EXAMPLES INCLUDE THINGS SUCH AS:
- High Blood Pressure
- Restrictive Lung Disease
- Multiples Pregnancy
- Incompetent Cervix
STOP EXERCISING IMMEDIATELY IF YOU EXPERIENCE:
- Any spotting or bleeding in your 2nd or 3rd trimesters.
- Chest Pain
- Weakness in Your Muscles
If you develop diastasis recti (separation of abdominal muscles)
Stop all abdominal workouts until further discussion with your care provider. If you think you have a seperation of your stomach muscles then read our steps for identifying distasis recti here.
If You Were NOT Working Out Before Pregnancy
It’s important to pace yourself and start out slow. If you are struggling with weight gain or your are obese then it is important to discuss exercise with your care provider and make a fitness plan that will promote healthy gain or loss.
Track your heart rate and make sure not to push too hard. Your blood volume increases by 50% during pregnancy so your heart is working overtime. While there isn’t a set cap for what heart rate you should achieve, you SHOULD be able to carry on a conversation and it can be useful to know what your personal heart rate is while in an aerobic pattern that allows for clear speaking but is a good workout. To find your ideal heart rate peak:
- Ask a friend or your partner to go to a gym or come to your home.
- Use a treadmill or elliptical with a heart rate monitor, and gradually increase your difficulty as you exercise.
- Have your friend/partner ask you questions/engage in conversation with you.
- Observe your heart rate closely and back off if you start struggling to have a smooth conversation.
- Cap your workout difficulty at the level that allows for clear conversation.
- Check again in a couple of weeks. If you’ve been working out consistently then your difficulty level can likely go up. Have someone with you when you test this to ensure that you don’t push too hard. It’s very easy to overestimate your abilities when you are alone!
If You Were Working Out Before You Got Pregnant
It’s best to always discuss your level of activity with your care provider, but it’s almost always safe and good to continue with whatever workout routine you had in place before pregnancy.
If you are a professional level athlete, there is some evidence that the muscles in your pelvis could prolong your labor, but it should be safe to continue your level of fitness anyway.
It is a good idea, however, to try to figure out how to modify your workouts for a lower impact, less intense level because of the higher blood volume, and the extra weight. Check out Expecting Fitness, by Birgitta Gallo for some ideas on how to do that!
It’s also anecdotal as far as I’ve found, and especially relevant to dancers, but many have found that the crowning stage is very slow because the perineum is so thick and strong that it takes a while to carefully stretch it! So does being too athletic make birth harder?
So does being too athletic make birth harder? From what I’ve seen/read/heard, definitely not! While there may be a few stages that take a few more minutes than they otherwise would, having a strong heart and body and good physical endurance is a massive benefit for labor!
What are the best workouts for prenatal fitness?
Aerobic workouts are the most accessible and are extremely beneficial. If you can be part of a prenatal swim or aerobic class then the accountability and camaraderie will be a massive morale booster.
If you are struggling with swollen ankles and poor circulation then try workouts that let you stay seated or in the water. A recumbent stationary bike or swimming are great for helping with that!
Top Aerobic Workouts For Pregnancy That Don’T Require Equipment Include:
If you have a gym available, or have any home gym equipment, the following workouts are also really great! If you appreciate quiet time with earbuds in and away from people, these are likely more suited to you:
- stationary bike
Home workout equipment isn’t that expensive, and if you are looking into group fitness classes you may find that purchasing a piece of equipment that you will be able to get a lot of years of use out of is a much more economical choice!
Our Top Three Exercise Machines For Maternity Fitness:
If you want a stationary bike for pregnancy workouts, this is an ideal option! Users found it very easy to assemble and many commented that it was as comfortable as those they used in their professional spin classes!
A stationary bike is an excellent choice for pregnancy because it is low impact, but it’s a full body workout. You can change your resistance to meet your needs and put in a long cardio workout that activates more muscles than a treadmill or going for a walk, but you don’t have to have the motivation or coordination it takes to go through a complicated yoga or dance workout.
Ellipticals are big. And heavy. And complicated to assemble.
But they are absolutely my favorite workout machine. Wanna get some good cardio in? Turn down the resistance and crank out a long and light workout. Wanna tone that booty? Crank up the resistance and do some backward stepping.
I love my elliptical.
But any non-pro elliptical is gonna have issues. The Schwinn seems to have less than most, but it seems that it can be a little squeaky and it’s a terror to put together.
But I freaking love ellipticals, and using my elliptical during pregnancy was such a good way to squeeze a few super beneficial moments in between my crazy bits of life with three children.
If you are having a hard time with swelling ankles or general fatigue and body aches, then try a recumbent stationary bicycle.
You get to lean back. Your feet aren’t directly under you, and you can get a decent cardio workout in while workin those legs and dat booty.
And it only weighs 43 lbs.
And it folds up and sits in the corner.
Yeah. It’s pretty amazing. If you are living in an apartment then this could be idea for you!