Especially for first-time mommies-to-be, the question of whether to work out and how much can be daunting. While the right types of exercise are important during pregnancy because a strong, healthy body is better equipped to handle those 9 delicate months and those that follow, the wrong types of exercise can hurt both Mommy and Baby. That’s why it’s always best to talk to your doctor about what types of exercises are best for you.
Here are 8 things you need to know about exercising and pregnancy:
1. You CAN (and should) exercise while you’re pregnant! Surprisingly, you can actually continue a lot of your favorite fitness activities – including running, swimming, cycling and using the treadmill – while you’re pregnant, especially during your first trimester. In fact, you should maintain some level of physical activity throughout your pregnancy to benefit your physical and emotional health (moms-to-be need endorphins, too!). Talk with your doctor about your current exercise regimen to see if you should continue as-is or modify.
2. Listen to your body. The main thing to remember about exercising while you’re pregnant is that you should pay close attention to what your body is telling you. Even when you’re at rest, your body is heavily involved in creating a new life from scratch. You may find that you are especially tired at different points during your first, second and/or third trimesters. It’s perfectly fine – and important – that you cut back and get adequate rest during these times.
3. This isn’t the time for goal-setting. Even as you continue to exercise while pregnant, this isn’t the time to try to sculpt your body, improve your performance, or take on a new sport. Stick to what you know, and enjoy nurturing the growing bundle inside you.
4. Your center of gravity is off. One of the main reasons why you should stick to what you know is because a pregnant body is distinctly different from a non-pregnant one. For example, your center of gravity shifts upward even at the beginning of your pregnancy, then continues to shift as your belly grows outward. You may find that this makes you a bit clumsier, so take some extra caution throughout your workout. For example, pregnant runners may want to stick to smooth courses and avoid potholes and cracks that could make them trip.
5. Your joints are loose. During pregnancy, your body purposefully doles out a special hormone called relaxin that keeps your joints looser to accommodate all of the shifting and growing that your body is doing. If you feel a little more floppy some days, this is why. Take care that you don’t overexert, since this makes you more prone to ankle sprains and pulled muscles.
6. You won’t heal as fast. Another reason pregnant moms are cautioned about exercise is because gestating bodies won’t heal as quickly since their first priority is making a baby (or babies!). If you did get hurt, even with a minor injury like a twist, sprain, or pulled muscle – recovery could be slow, frustrating and more painful than you’re used to.
7. Other discomforts. In early pregnancy, you may experience nausea and extreme fatigue, and, in later pregnancy, you could deal with pain in your back, joint swelling and even carpal tunnel syndrome. Once again, listen to your body and accept that you may need to take a break from your exercise routine accordingly.
8. Drink lots of water! Throughout your pregnancy, it’s crucial that you up your H2O intake accommodate your growing baby. Pregnancy increases the amount of blood in your body by 50 percent, and it’s the water in your blood that helps it transport all of its good nutrients to you and your baby. Drinking plenty of water can also help combat swelling and urinary tract infections – which pregnant women are more prone to getting. So start sipping! Learn more about the health benefits of drinking water here.
Ready to relax after that pregnancy workout? Take a look at our article on 8 Steps to a Fabulous Pregnancy Massage.