You know that ‘Oh My God I’m Pregnant’ moment? It comes with so many emotions, so many hormones, and so many questions. At Baby2Body we hear this question all the time…
Should I stop exercising or change my routine?
The short answer is: No you shouldn’t stop exercising, unless explicitly advised so by your doctor for pre-existing conditions or complications; and, Yes, you will want to make some modifications to your routine.
But if you’ve found yourself prodding the internet for answers to this question and come upon a lot of mixed opinions and critical naysayers, 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 after birth.
Why we care so much about prenatal exercise (& why you should too!)
Prenatal exercise isn’t about aesthetics or making sure your body looks a certain way while expecting. Its value is in how it makes your body feel and the incredible long-term benefits to your physical health, your emotional wellbeing, and your baby’s long term health. Off of that, we HIGHLY recommend giving this article a read: How Your Exercise Routine Can Make Your Kids Healthier
And it’s soooo good for you all you mama-to-be’s too! 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…)
So, as long as you’ve received clearance from your doctor for prenatal exercise, you’re good to get after it! On the Baby2Body app, 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, and with Premium you’ll get full workout programs that change with you as you progress through pregnancy. All you need to do is download our app and join the Fitness Studio!
But, if you’re in your first trimester and just getting into a prenatal exercise routine, we’ve got our top tips for what you need to know:
5 Tips For Exercising In Your First Trimester
1. Warm Up Like You Mean It
You might have skipped a few in the past (we won’t lie, we have too) but warming your body up is extra important during pregnancy.
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 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.
2. Work to Your Current Fitness Level
Your pre-pregnancy workout routine has already set the foundation for where you should get started with your pregnancy workouts!
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.
Remember this: prenatal exercise is all about maintaining regular exercise, strength and stamina. You can still push yourself, but we’re not aiming for personal bests, just sustained success.
3. Don’t Be Afraid Of Weights!
Weight-based training is the best way to build and maintain muscle tone — and there are a lot of easy ways to safely introduce weights into your workouts, even while pregnant!
Building muscle tone now and maintaining it throughout your pregnancy can help with labor and getting back into shape after birth. Plus – the more muscle you have, the more fat you burn, even while at rest! Pretty neat, huh?
The key to any exercise routine is striking the balance between cardio and strength training, and we don’t want you to be afraid of weights! You can safely use them while expecting and we promise you won’t bulk up.
Using lighter weights (1-3kg or 3-5lbs) with higher repetitions is a great place to start. From there you can build up the weight and lower the repetitions until you feel like you’ve hit the sweet spot. We’ve got plenty of weight-based workouts on the Baby2Body app to keep you toned!
4. H20 is Your Hero
Staying hydrated is a big deal when you’re expecting, and that’s even more true when you’re exercising while expecting. But here’s another reason to focus on water…
This tip is all about water workouts! 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.
Whether you opt for a few laps in the pool or an aqua-natal 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.
5. Take Exercise Classes With Confidence
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 with most workout classes in your first trimester. Just be sure to let your instructor know, and be mindful of how your body feels during the class.
That said, it’s also an optimal time to try a new class that offers a safe, positive space and will benefit you throughout your entire pregnancy. For this, we highly recommend Pilates and yoga. We know they’ve been a little over-hyped but there’s 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 already attending regular Pilates or yoga classes, be sure to tell your instructor you’re expecting.
The benefits of exercise during pregnancy impact you and baby immediately and will last for the long term. We want to help you enjoy your prenatal workouts and celebrate what your body is capable of! 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.
For more fitness tips and exercises for a healthy pregnancy and fourth trimester, check out our ios app!