Has this question crossed your mind: Can I continue to exercise regularly once I’m pregnant?
It’s a big question and the truth is there are a lot of mixed answers out there, and that can make prenatal exercise seem confusing and daunting. If you’ve found yourself prodding the internet for answers and come upon a lot of mixed opinions and critical naysayers, we’re here to tell you that you’re not alone. But we’re so glad you found Baby2Body because we’re working hard to dispel the myths around exercise in pregnancy, and help women all over the world feel confident and in control of their fitness during pregnancy and beyond.
To answer the question simply – it’s a resounding yes. You can most definitely exercise during pregnancy. In fact, as you may already know, we’re huge advocates of educating and empowering women to stay as healthy as possible during pregnancy, for themselves and their baby, and in most cases that includes daily exercise!
Of course, some women have pre-existing or early pregnancy conditions that make regular exercise unadvisable – and if that’s the case, it’s something your doctor will discuss with you at your initial prenatal appointment.
Prenatal exercise goes way beyond aesthetics and how your body looks. It’s far more about how it makes your body feel and the incredible long-term benefits to your body, your baby and your mind. For example, exercising just 30 minutes a day (3-5 times a week) can help reduce anxiety along with other common pregnancy symptoms, decrease your likelihood of developing prenatal complications, make it easier to get back in shape after birth, and it can even make labor a bit easier (we wish we could say a lot easier…)
Of course, that’s not to say you won’t have to make some modifications along the way, but we’ve got a solution for that too! At Baby2Body, we cover all the precautions to take as you progress through each trimester, so we’ll tell you exactly what changes to make and when to make them. All you need to do is download our app!
For a little sneak preview of what you’ll get, we’re dishing out our top tips for exercising in the first trimester, so you can ease into it effectively and start these 9 months off on the right foot.
1. Work to your current fitness level. If you were a gym bunny (or worked out fairly frequently) before becoming pregnant, it’s OK to maintain a similar exercise routine, so long as you listen to your body and don’t work yourself to exhaustion. If you only exercised from time to time, or not at all, now isn’t the time to up the ante. Be honest with yourself on this one, because you don’t want to push your body to a place it’s not comfortable going now that you’ve got a bun in the oven. Ease yourself in with a 20-minute walk every day, whether that’s on the treadmill, a stroll in the park or on your way to work. As your body gets used to it, you can slowly incorporate resistance exercises and longer cardio workouts. Prenatal exercise is all about maintaining regular exercise, strength and stamina – not aiming for personal bests.
2. Never miss a warm-up. You might have skipped a few in the past, we won’t lie we have too, but during pregnancy warm-ups are super important. It’s essential to get in the habit of warming up your muscles and stretching safely to avoid injury and muscle cramping. It’s also necessary for gradually raising your heart rate. Jumping into exercise too quickly can make your blood pressure rise, making you lightheaded and dizzy, so take it slow and get that body feeling good! Keep it really simple with a 5-minute walk, arm circles and dynamic stretches to loosen up your joints and get your heart pumping – it’s exactly what you need before jumping into the main event.
3. H2O is a hero. You’ve probably heard enough about the importance of water to last you a lifetime – but it’s not just for good for drinking during exercise, which by the way, is a must during prenatal exercise (sorry, we couldn’t resist)! But this tip is all about getting in the pool during pregnancy. Swimming is a fantastic low-impact exercise that also serves as a natural lymphatic massage, helping you to remove toxins efficiently and keep swelling to a minimum. Plus, during the summer months when it gets obnoxiously hot and you’re managing hot flushes, cooling off in the pool will be exactly what you’re looking for.
Bonus tip: Whether you opt for a few laps in the pool or an aquanatal class, the weightless environment will provide much-needed relief to your lower back and hips – even in the first trimester. You’ll notice the difference in no time, and come trimester 3 you’ll be so grateful that you got used to water workouts early on.
4. Catch your breath. Unless advised otherwise by your doc, it’s OK to continue with your current exercise classes in your first trimester. As long as you’re listening to your body (hint, hint – that’s a recurring theme of prenatal exercise!) and taking it at a pace that feels manageable, you can feel free to keep on spinning. That said, it’s also OK to shift your focus if you feel more comfortable in a different exercise environment. Now is the optimal time to try a class that feels like a safe, positive space and will benefit you throughout the entire pregnancy. We highly recommend Pilates and yoga. We know they’ve been a little over-hyped but there’s definitely a good reason why. These classes are designed to build your strength and balance whilst helping you to relax and focus on your breathing – and working on both at the same time is like the Holy Grail of pregnancy exercise. If you’re attending regular classes, be sure to tell your instructor you’re expecting, or look to sign up for exclusive prenatal classes.
5. Muscles are sexy! Good muscle tone will serve you well as you progress through pregnancy, during labor, and especially as a new mom recovering from birth and raising a newborn. Building muscle tone now and maintaining it throughout your pregnancy will help massively in getting your body back after baby. Plus – the more muscle you have, the more fat you burn, even while at rest! Pretty neat, huh? The key to exercising is striking the balance between cardio and strength training, and you can work on muscle tone by incorporating dumbbells, kettlebells, or bodyweight resistance moves into your exercise routine. No need to go crazy with the weights, because the lighter stuff can do the trick! Try 2-3kg (5lbs) with higher repetitions to start and keep building in weight and lowering repetitions until you feel like you’ve hit the sweet spot. If you’re new to weights or bodyweight resistance, pop into your local gym to get some guidance on proper lifting techniques and form.
The benefits of moving more during pregnancy begin immediately and last your whole life – so enjoy every second of it. If you’re unsure about anything at all, check with your obstetrician and take it from there. Also, we’ll say it just once more: make sure to listen to your body above all else, and if it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.
If you’re nearing the end of your first trimester make sure to sign up for your daily emails, or keep your eyes peeled for our top tips to exercising during the second and third trimester. Until then, discover the 4 best workouts for sexy arms!
For more fitness tips and exercises for a healthy pregnancy and fourth trimester, check out our free ios app!