by Jenny R. Gibson, Certified Personal Trainer, Certificate of Optimum Performance Training for Prenatal Clients
Congratulations! You just received the news you’re having a baby. Whether it’s your first pregnancy or you’ve done it before, your body goes through a wide range of changes during this special time. But, don’t panic. With the right information at hand, you can stay fit and have a happy, healthy pregnancy and bounce back physically after childbirth.
Numerous studies have shown that exercise while expecting is a benefit to both you and baby. Dr. James Clapp III, author of "Exercising Through Your Pregnancy," found that women who continued regular weight-bearing exercise above 50 percent of their pre-pregnancy levels tended to have fewer physical discomforts, gained about eight pounds less than those who stopped exercising, and did not sustain more injuries or complications such as membrane ruptures. They also had easier, shorter and less complicated labors with less medical intervention (like pain relief, Pitocin and episiotomies) and recovered faster. So, what are you waiting for?
First, do not be afraid to gain weight during your pregnancy. Normal weight gain is anywhere from 25-45 pounds for a single baby and 45-65 pounds for twin pregnancy. Your physician or midwife will monitor your weight gain to make sure the LBs are not too little nor excessive. With a healthy weight gain, you can still keep yourself fit, toned, and trim while pregnant.
Secondly, do not make any assumptions about fitness during pregnancy. Talk with other moms, moms-to-be, or fitness experts. Many athletic clubs offer mom-to-be pregnancy classes such as PregnaFit (low-impact aerobics), pregnancy yoga (stress relief), pregnancy plunge water aerobics (alleviates overheating and jarring for high-risk pregnancies), and post-pregnancy classes. Also, be sure to investigate small group training classes with other pre- and postnatal moms, or private one-on-one training with a personal trainer that specializes in prenatal and postnatal training.
Finally, ask yourself what category of exercise you are working within. Are you a sedentary, moderately active, or an athletic mom-to-be? Be honest with yourself. Write a list of all the activities you do for exercise. If you exercise 1-2 days per week, you are a sedentary exerciser, and will need to build up your endurance program with the baby onboard. If you exercise 3-4 days per week, which includes 30 minutes of aerobic exercise and strength training, you are moderately active and can continue your exercise regimen with minor modifications. If you are a triathlete, avid runner, or like to work out 5-7 days per week at moderate- to high-intensity, you are an athletic mom-to-be. You will have to simply dial back your workouts as things progress. No matter if you are a sedentary, moderately active, or an athletic mom-to-be, always be aware of your body as the extra weight you are carrying will make your body work harder than before you were pregnant. Your body’s center of gravity also shifts as pregnancy progresses and can create balance problems. Further, the hormones produced during pregnancy cause the ligaments that support your joints to become relaxed, which makes them more mobile and more at risk of injury. Avoid jerky, bouncy, or high-impact motions to be safe.
No doubt about it, exercise is a big benefit for both you and your baby – from having more energy and a faster, easier labor delivery, to getting in shape quickly as a new mom. So, put on those loose-fitting workout clothes, drink plenty of water, and commit to a fit pregnancy! (Note: before you continue your old exercise routine or begin a new one during pregnancy, you should talk to your doctor.)