Is Exercising Safe for Your Baby?
It’s understandable to be concerned that your baby’s health might be affected by your exercise plan. However, short of horseback riding, skiing, or Mixed Martial Arts, you’ll be able to enjoy many of your favorite exercise activities (albeit, with some slight alterations).
Women who don’t have pregnancy complications are still recommended about 30 minutes of pretty moderate exercise every day. The fact is, if you don’t exercise, you’ll get progressively less fit throughout the progression of your pregnancy. Sadly, this can make labor and your first weeks as a mother much harder than they need to be.
Exercises for the First Trimester
It’s not easy to exercise during your first trimester. For one thing, you’re more tired and nauseous, in addition to worrying about the health and safety of your baby. It’s kind of a Catch-22, because exercise can actually ease many symptoms of pregnancy, including back problems and even constipation. Below are some recommended exercises for your first trimester–remember, with all of these exercise plans to consult your obstetrician.
Walking & Jogging
Walking and light jogging (provided you don’t have much of a “bounce” to your jog) are good low-impact exercises that are safe throughout your pregnancy. Keep in mind with all cardio exercises, however, that you should not push yourself to the point where you’re out of breath–as a matter of fact, you shouldn’t push yourself to the point where you can’t comfortably speak out loud.
Cycling is one of the best cardio exercises around, it puts less strain on your knees than jogging or running, and frankly we just think it’s a little more fun. However, bicycling understandably worries some pregnant women too much–a stationary bike or a spin class might be a good alternative for you.
Body-Weight Resistance Exercises
While you shouldn’t lift weights, body-weight or isometric exercises are a good way to keep your muscles toned throughout your pregnancy. A few examples include planks, side-planks, and leg-lifts.
These are by no means the only exercises you can perform during your first trimester–but we needed to save a few exercises and activities for later on!
Exercises for the Second Trimester
Your second trimester will provide you with a few barriers to exercise, but remember that light to moderate exercise can actually ease some of these issues, including pain and stress. Above all, you’ll want to start seeking out low-impact exercises, both for your safety and comfort.
Swimming & Water Aerobics
Water provides a lower-resistance level, which makes water aerobics a good way to maintain your flexibility during the second trimester. Other than cycling, swimming is one of the best low-impact ways to get your recommended 20-30 minutes of daily cardiovascular exercise.
Yoga and Pilates
While you should avoid poses that require you to twist, as well as moves that require you to balance precariously, yoga and pilates are both good ways to keep your core muscles (among others) strong throughout your pregnancy.
Exercises for the Third Trimester
Ironically, although you’ll have more energy and be less affected by nausea than you were in your first and second trimesters, it’s during the third trimester that you should be most careful about the types of exercise you choose.
Safety is crucial–talk with your obstetrician or another healthcare provider to make sure an exercise regimen is right for you.
Many options from before still remain open, including:
-Walking & Light Jogging
-Swimming & Water Aerobics
-Yoga & Pilates (try stretching on a birth-ball–they help you develop the muscles you’ll need in labor)
Crucial Exercise Takeaways for Moms-To-Be
You can stay fit and healthy throughout your pregnancy–don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. Here are a few important tips to remember for exercising while you’re pregnant:
- Never push yourself too hard when you exercise–it’s dangerous for you, and it’s dangerous for your baby.
- Look for low-impact exercises that don’t involve a lot of twisting, turning, or balance.
- Even though it’s hard to find the motivation to exercise, doing so will ease many effects of your pregnancy–even nausea and aches.
- Cardio is important, but don’t exercise to the point where you are really out of breath–brisk walks or jogs are better than running. A good rule of thumb is that you should always be able to speak a sentence or two out loud.
- If you can, look for pre-natal exercise classes around you. You’ll stay in shape and connect with other pregnant women.
- Don’t be afraid to make alterations to certain exercises to accommodate your tummy as starts to grow.
- If an exercise or activity feels wrong (i.e. uncomfortable, more painful than usual), it most likely is wrong–at least for you. Listen to the signals your body sends you.
Lastly, we’d like to talk about an issue that a lot of expectant mothers face when they exercise–dirty looks from people who think that exercise will somehow harm your baby.
Don’t let them judge you–you know what’s going to keep you and your baby happy and healthy. Most of the people judging haven’t even experienced pregnancy, so their opinions are largely ignorant. However, this is one of the reasons that a prenatal exercise class can provide a welcome relief for people tired of “gym culture”. We wish all you future mamas the best of luck staying fit and healthy throughout all three trimesters!