Working out while trying to stick to SIP guidelines isn’t ideal (face mask while running, anyone?) and when you’re pregnant you’ve got your own personal medicine ball to think about. But there are loads of benefits to working out that you can take with you through labor and beyond.
“Exercise is not only safe during most pregnancies, it can actually help stabilize common discomforts and often make the labor process shorter,” says Morgan Kline, co-founder and COO of Burn Boot Camp and who is also 7 months pregnant with her third child. “Working out can boost your energy, improve your mood, help you sleep, and prepare you for childbirth by strengthening the necessary muscle groups used in labor.”
Of course, check with your doctor before kicking off any workout during pregnancy. “Every pregnancy is different, every mom is different, and there may be reasons why your doctor will not allow you to exercise,” says Kline. But generally speaking, if you’re not a high-risk pregnancy or have a concerning medical issue you’re good to go (just check first!).
What to Eat
Let’s start with a few nutrition basics. Organic free-range eggs are nutrient-dense with dozens of vitamins and minerals you and your babe need, including choline, which is good for baby’s brain development. Wild Salmon is rich in omega 3s, making it a super food for your joint support and baby’s brain and vision development. (You can safely eat up to 12 ounces of low-mercury fish, such as salmon, per week.) Leafy greens are great sources of iron, folate and fiber to help with digestion and reduce constipation common in pregnancy.
How to Get Moving
Here are some specific workouts Kline recommends trying at home:
- “The second trimester is a good time to do exercises that strengthen your pelvic floor,” she says. Try squats to help open your hips, strengthen your pelvic area and lower back. Take your feet a bit wider than shoulder width apart and make sure that as you come down, the weight in your stomach does not cause you to hinge at the hips.
- Glute bridges can also strengthen your lower back. Keep your knees straight over your ankles, tuck your pelvis under, raise and squeeze at the top then lower right back down. Do not extend your feet out too wide or too far, says Kline.
Here are Kline’s Dos and Don’ts for making the most of your at-home pregnancy workout:
- DO: Stick with low-impact exercises and modify all intense movements. Focus on strength training rather than intense cardio. Take breaks as needed.
- DON’T: Work out to the point of exhaustion. Be sure you’re always able to carry a conversation while training.
- DO: Workout three to six times per week. Give your body a chance to rest and recover, this is necessary even when you’re not pregnant.
- DON’T: Continue to work out if you feel faint, dizzy, lightheaded, nauseous, or notice spotting. Immediately stop your exercise.
- DO: Stay cool and drink plenty of water. Overheating can be dangerous for the baby so be sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercise.
- DON’T: Jump, twist, sprint or lay flat on your stomach or back after 20 weeks. No excess pressure to your spine and do not compress the abdomen after this point in time. If you would like to be overly cautious, skip these movements altogether.
- DO: Stretch before and after exercise, shortened “tight” muscles could be a problem when that belly starts to grow!
- DON’T: Perform heavy compound movements (especially in the third trimester) because your body is malleable. Your ligaments, joints, and muscles are at risk.
- DO: Scale your exercise back to simple movements in the third trimester.
- DON’T: Overstretch. The hormone relaxin causes muscles to stretch further than before so don’t tear a hammy!
- DO: Wear loose and comfortable clothing.
In the end, it’s about finding what you love to do. Modify a workout that you really enjoyed doing pre-bump and find a regular time in the week to stick to it. Walk, jog, swim if that’s still available to you in this crazy time but getting in even a yoga video will make you feel better and stronger for the days ahead. Shake it but with a low-impact twist!
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