I’ve told you how to keep your body healthy through eating while pregnant, now let’s talk about working out while pregnant. In the past, women have been told not to work out while pregnant. There wasn’t a lot known about the effects that exercise would have on the baby. Now, we know that working out is very beneficial to a pregnant woman. Some benefits could include shorter labor, easier labor (all those squats don’t seem so silly now, do they?), and healthier babies; not to mention easier recovery times and a shorter time to get that pre-baby body back. Today, I’ll discuss myths that go along with exercise and pregnancy. The next blog will be exercise that should and shouldn’t be done while pregnant.
**Always check with your doctor before you engage in any exercise while pregnant.**
**If you don’t feel well, don’t work out that day. Always listen to your body.**
- Never get your heart rate above (fill in the number) during pregnancy. Everyone is different, therefore every heart rate is different. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists abandoned the target heart rate philosophy for preggos a while ago. What you should go by is the PRE (perceived rate of exertion), which means that you stop when you feel you’re going too hard and you keep going when you feel like you can. A good rule of thumb, even for you non-preggers, is to try to talk when working out. If you can’t carry on a conversation without taking deep breaths between each word, you should probably slow it down. If you can sing with no problem while working out, kick it up a notch. You should be able to talk, but not a mile a minute. What you should also pay attention to is how hot you get. Especially during the first six weeks or so, you don’t want to get your body temp too high because of the possible effects that has on the fetus.
- You can’t do ab exercises while pregnant. This is also a myth. Strengthening your core has huge benefits while pregnant. It helps in labor and delivery and recovery time, as well as posture. After the first trimester, you shouldn’t lay flat on your back anymore, so gentle standing pelvic tilts, seated belly breathing, or tightening abs, holding, then releasing, are good ways to keep ab muscles in top condition.
- You can’t run during pregnancy. If you were a runner before pregnancy, you can be a runner during. As long as you feel up to it, run your little heart out. Remember though, you’re not striving to break any goals, just to maintain where you are now. Don’t be training for a marathon while you’re pregnant.
- If I exercise too much during pregnancy, I will pull nutrients from my baby so he/she won’t grow properly. Your baby is not going to go without nutrients. In fact, if it doesn’t have what it needs, it will take it from you and your store of nutrients. In order for you to get what you need (remember, Mommy, you need to make sure you’re ok, too), eat smaller, more frequent meals. Make sure to take your prenatal vitamins, too. “Babies of mommies who exercise during pregnancy are born leaner, but organ size and head circumference are normal. So don’t be afraid to exercise during pregnancy,” says Laura Riley, MD, spokeswoman for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and author of Pregnancy: You and Your Baby.
- If I never exercised before, now is not the time to start. Wrong! You should not become Ms. Fitness of America in the next 9 months, but you should by no means keep your preggo butt on the couch. Walking, swimming, stationary biking, and yoga are all good exercises you can begin while pregnant. You can even begin to lift light weights, but get a trainer to show you some easy exercises to start with. You can start with just 10 minutes a day and progressively move up from there. Please don’t use pregnancy as an excuse to sit around and do nothing.
- Any sign of trouble — like spotting or pain — means I should stop exercising and not do it any more during my pregnancy. Those are signs to stop what you’re doing immediately, as are nausea, dizziness, and lightheadedness, but it doesn’t mean you need to stop exercising forever. Make sure you’ve eaten well that day, make sure you’ve had enough water, and talk to your doctor about your symptoms.
Stay sweaty, and safe, my friends!