Well since I have about a MILLION pregnant friends and clients right now, I thought it was best to write up a post that all my fit pregger chicks can refer to.
First of all, I want to say that I am SO PROUD that you have decided to make fitness a part of your life, and your baby’s life. Pregnancy is not an excuse to eat all you want and sit on the couch. (OK, actually, it is a REALLY good excuse to eat and sit.) However, most women feel much better and gain less weight during their pregnancy when they keep up with their regular fitness routine.
The rules on working out during pregnancy have changed a bit over the years. For example, there used to be a rule that you should keep your heart rate under 140 bpm. That rule has been thrown out the window. The best rule when it comes to exertion is that you really should listen to your body. If you have energy and are feeling good, there is no harm in exercising at a moderate to vigorous (let’s say…mildly vigorous) pace.
A question I get asked a lot is “Can I continue my boot camp classes when I am pregnant?” My answer is absolutely yes, under a few conditions. The first is that you are “continuing” your program, and not starting from the beginning. If you are new to exercise, it may be better to stick with walking, yoga and light weight training under the supervision of a personal trainer or other fitness professional. (Be sure to check your trainer’s credentials, starting a program when pregnant is not the time to work with someone inexperienced.) The other condition is that your doctor has stated that it is ok for you to exercise. Or that he has NOT mentioned that you can not exercise. Most doctors just assume you will continue what you were doing and/or ask questions if you are concerned. If you have a condition where you should not exercise, it is very likely that any good doctor will inform you.
I have had women who simply don’t have the energy to continue classes or just don’t “feel right” during class. I have others who feel great and work out all the way until delivery. What you need to remember is that every woman is different, and that every pregnancy is different. What felt good when you had a baby 3 years ago may not feel good during your second pregnancy. It is extremely important to get in touch with your body, and pay attention to how you feel. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I exercised every single day of my pregnancy, except about 2 days. But due to Placenta Previa, I had some cramping and didn’t feel right running or doing vigorous jumping movements. I kept walking, using the elliptical or stair climber, I lifted weights, danced, did yoga, etc. I found something to do every day to stay active and I felt really happy when I exercised. It also made it very easy to return to exercise after my delivery. It is also very important not to compare yourself to other women. There may be a lady about to deliver sprinting past you as you waddle along the track. So what? Does that mean she is better than you? No. Does that mean she will have an easier delivery than you? Nope. Just realize you are both exercising to feel good. Don’t let other feelings creep up, it is not a competition.
Here are a few tips for exercising that I find worth mentioning:
1. Don’t lift weights that are very heavy overhead if you are prone to lower back pain.
2. Don’t allow yourself to become overheated. Take breaks if you feel you are getting too hot and drink water.
3. Don’t spend more than 3 minutes performing exercises while lying on your back after your first trimester. This puts pressure on your vena cava, a major vein, and it can reduce blood flow to the heart- and possibly the brain and uterus-causing you to feel dizzy, nauseous, or short of breath. This will not harm the baby, and only happens in roughly 10% of pregnancies.
4. Know your modifications. Ask for low impact or alternate moves. For example, There are plenty of seated and standing abdominal moves you can do instead of sit ups. There are also low impact variations of almost all aerobic moves, such as jumping jacks, if you aren’t up to the high impact moves. Ask your instructor to provide you with an alternate move. If your pregnancy is still hush-hush, arrive before class to speak with your teacher for advice. No matter what, ALWAYS notify your instructor that you are pregnant before taking their class.
5. Stay hydrated. Bring more water than you normally do to your workouts.
6. Always have a proper “warm up” at the beginning of your workout and a “cool down” at the end of your session.
7. Avoid getting dizzy. When transition from the floor to standing, move slowly. Take your time. Also, never stop moving abruptly, even if you do feel dizzy. Always march in place lightly even when taking a break. This is a good way to end your session and begin your cool down as well.
8. Make sure you had enough to eat that day so your blood sugar levels are normal.
9. Don’t endanger yourself or baby for silly reasons. This is a controversial one. But if you don’t want to be judged by others, don’t do stupid things. Like contact sports, HOT (bikram) yoga (still controversial, but may cause neural tube defects, I would say not without doctors clearance and tell him the temperate of the room you are using), riding a bike on a highway (riding a bike in general is not recommended past first trimester bc of an increased risk of falling), running with your headphones on too loudly, attending classes without telling your instructor you are pregnant, (This is even more important with Crossfit classes) performing unsafe moves in a Crossfit or other gym/boot camp environment without supervision of a QUALIFIED instructor.
10. Most importantly, if your doctor tells you not to exercise, you should probably listen. If you don’t like his advice, seek a second opinion before taking the risk.
I wish you all a happy, safe and fit pregnancy!