Best Exercises for You and Baby During Pregnancy
So you're pregnant, hooray!!! BUT you are terrified of gaining too much weight and having to meet your postpartum body. At least that's how I felt! If you are anything like me during pregnancy (hello, nine months of morning sickness) the last thing you want to do is leave your couch to go somewhere and get sweaty! However, that is actually one of the best things you can do for yourself while pregnant!
Countless studies and research articles report that women who are active during their pregnancies have less back and joint pain, more energy throughout the day, and a quicker return to pre-pregnancy shape after delivery! I whole heartedly agree.If you happened to read my blog post about getting back into shape after baby, then you know that I am a bit of an exercise nut. While I was trying to get pregnant, I spent some time researching to be sure of what I could and couldn't do once I had a little bun in the oven. Before we get in to the exercises though, here are few disclaimers and important things to know:
1. Consult your Doctor:There are two general rules of thumb for exercise during pregnancy; first, if you did it before, you can typically do it during and second, you shouldn't start a new or more active exercise regimen while pregnant. Obviously those rules are VERRRRY general, and apply to low risk pregnancies. Please talk to your doctor whether you are a low or a high risk! Communicate with them throughout your pregnancy as well to make sure that they are informed enough to help you keep your baby and you safe. In my opinion, no question is a dumb question.
2. Use Common Sense:Even if your doctor has given you the "okay" for certain exercises, always listen to your body! I stopped doing sit-ups long before my doctor told me to stop just because I could feel the strain on my stomach. If you have been active prior to being pregnant, then you should be able to read your body enough to know when to stop. REMEMBER: Pregnancy is not the time to start a new or different exercise regimen! It is also not the time to try to prevent yourself from gaining weight. Believe me when I say that I know how hard that is. I gained 50 lbs during my pregnancy. I was very active through the entire 40+ weeks (yes, I went over due. BLEHHH is all I have to say about that!) and the pounds still crept on. Just think about that healthy happy babe you want to snuggle at the end, and it will all be worth it! Now lets talk exercise! First of all, I just want to say that these are in no way the only good or safe forms of exercise for you during pregnancy. These are just a few of my favorites! Don't want to go to the gym? NO PROBLEM, some of these you can do in the comfort of your own home or neighborhood! Go ahead and throw that excuse out the window!
Bodyweight ExercisesBodyweight exercises are all that and a bag of chips! Seriously, they are extremely beneficial and don't really require any 'equipment' per say. So...you can do them and modify them easily as you get farther along in your pregnancy. Some really easy and great ones are;
- Squats: Ladies...if you aren't best friends with these yet then you should start to work on that friendship! Squats work those buns and thighs, and what lady doesn't want those two things toned up? Make sure to keep your booty back, knees out, and your weight in your heels!
- Tricep dips: These work on those stubborn back sides of those arms. You can make them easier by moving your heels closer to your base (chair, couch, etc.) or harder by straightening your legs!
- Leg raises: These seem kind of stupid just looking at the picture BUT they will surely give your legs a nice burn! There are quite a few different variations of these, so mess around a little bit to see what other ways induce the burn!
- Inverted push-ups: These give those arms and shoulders a good workout, but keep the strain off your growing belly (which is extremely important!) These can also be made easier or harder by increasing/decreasing the distance between your hands and feet.
For all of these exercises I would start with 3-4 rounds of 15-25 reps depending on your activity level and how your body is feeling! There are plenty of other great body weight exercises out there too. A great resource I always recommend to people is The Women's Health Big Book of Exercises. It is chuck full of awesome exercises for less than twenty dollars! You truly cannot go wrong with this book.
Cardio: Walking, Stationary Cycling
These types of cardio are wonderful during pregnancy because they are very easily regulated. You want your heart rate to be elevated when you work out but don't want to overwork yourself, especially as you get farther along in your pregnancy. These two forms of exercise will still get that heart pumping even when you are doing them decently slow. Remember, the key is to get that heart pumping faster than usual, even if it is only slightly faster!
Swimming has cardio and strength benefits, AND it literally helps you take a load off those sore backs and feet! That's a double bonus in my eyes! Whether you are actually swimming laps, or you're just sitting balanced on a pool noodle slowly kicking around the pool you are getting a good little workout! For those of you that don't feel like getting any 'sweatier' (hello you summer pregnancy troopers!!) this is the perfect option for you! Relax and workout at the same time? Sign me up!
I don't necessarily consider stretching to be 'exercise' but it is so beneficial for pregnant mamas! For those of you that have a fair amount of back and joint pain, stretching will help your body to relax and loosen up. Your muscles, ligaments, and tendons are bearing more weight than usual so they are going to be more much more tense at the end of the day than normal. A few times a week, take 10-15 minutes before bed to help your body relax with a good stretch session! Not quite sure what or how to stretch? HELLO YOUTUBE! Or if you purchase the Big Book of Exercises that I mentioned before you can find ideas in there!