As a mama to be, you’re likely navigating the wild ride of pregnancy while juggling work, social life, and countless Google searches about “Is it safe to eat sushi during pregnancy?” or “What does baby’s first kick feel like?” One aspect of pregnancy that often doesn’t get as much attention as cravings and baby names is your own movement. So, let’s talk about pregnancy fitness, shall we?
The Importance of Staying Active
When you find out you’re pregnant, it’s easy to worry that every little thing you do might harm your growing baby. However, staying active during pregnancy is not just okay – it’s highly recommended. Of course, consult with your healthcare provider before beginning any exercise routine, especially if you have any underlying health conditions or pregnancy complications. That being said, here’s why keeping your body moving can be a game-changer during pregnancy:
Boosts Mood: Pregnancy hormones can send your emotions on a wild ride. One moment you’re overjoyed, and the next, you’re crying over a cute kitten video. Regular exercise releases endorphins, those feel-good hormones, which can help stabilize your mood and reduce stress.
Increases Energy: Pregnancy fatigue is real, but paradoxically, staying active can help combat it. Light to moderate exercise can give you an energy boost and help you feel more alert.
Improves Sleep: As your baby bump grows, finding a comfortable sleeping position can be challenging. Regular physical activity can improve your sleep quality and make those restless nights a little more bearable.
Supports Muscle Strength: Your body is undergoing incredible changes, and your muscles need to adapt. Exercise helps maintain muscle strength, which can be beneficial during labor and postpartum recovery.
Enhances Circulation: Pregnancy can cause swelling and discomfort, but moving around helps with blood circulation, reducing the risk of varicose veins and leg cramps.
Types of Safe Exercises
Every body and every pregnancy is different. Consult your doctor to ensure the type of exercise you choose is pregnancy-friendly for you. Some generally approved workout options include:
Prenatal Yoga: Yoga is an excellent choice for expecting mothers. It helps with flexibility, relaxation, and breathing techniques – all of which can be incredibly helpful during labor. Look for prenatal yoga classes or follow along with YouTube videos tailored to pregnant women. It’s pregnancy fitness with the added benefit of mindfulness.
Swimming: Taking a dip in the pool can relieve the pressure on your joints and provide a welcome break from the weight of your baby bump. Swimming is a full-body workout that’s gentle on your body.
Walking: Sometimes, the simplest exercises are the most effective. Walking is low-impact, and you can do it anywhere. Grab a friend or put on your favorite podcast and go for a stroll.
Prenatal Pilates: Pilates focuses on core strength, which is essential for supporting your growing belly. Opt for prenatal Pilates classes or videos that cater to expectant mothers.
Strength Training: If you were already into weightlifting before pregnancy, you can continue with some modifications. Use lighter weights and avoid exercises that put excess strain on your core or back.
Prenatal Dance Classes: Dancing can be a fun and enjoyable way to stay active during pregnancy. Whether it’s ballet, hip-hop, or belly dancing, choose a style you love and groove to the rhythm.
Prenatal Aerobics: Some fitness studios offer specialized prenatal aerobics classes that cater to the unique needs of pregnant women. These classes can help you maintain your cardiovascular pregnancy fitness.
Listening to Your Body
As you embark on your pregnancy fitness journey, it’s essential to be in tune with your body and make adjustments as needed. Here are some tips for listening to your body during this time:
Stay Hydrated: Dehydration can be more dangerous during pregnancy, so be sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercise.
Pay Attention to Your Breathing: If you’re struggling to catch your breath or feeling dizzy, it’s time to take a break. Pregnancy can affect your lung capacity, so don’t push yourself too hard.
Watch for Warning Signs: If you experience any unusual symptoms like severe pain, bleeding, or contractions while exercising, stop immediately and seek medical attention.
Modify as Needed: As your pregnancy progresses, you may need to modify your workouts. Listen to your body and make adjustments accordingly. For example, you might need to reduce the intensity or avoid exercises that put too much strain on your abdomen.
Prioritize Safety: Safety always comes first. Avoid high-risk activities, like contact sports or exercises with a high risk of falling.
Embracing the Changes
Pregnancy is a time of immense change, both physically and emotionally. Embrace these changes as part of the beautiful journey you’re on. Your body is doing something incredible, and staying active can help you feel more connected to the process. Whether you’re taking prenatal yoga classes, going for walks, or dancing to your favorite tunes, the key is to listen to your body, prioritize safety, and enjoy the journey. And make sure you are fueling your body as well!