As some of you may know, I’m currently a “momma-to-be,” which means that my body and energy levels have changed and with that have come changes to my work-out routine. Before pregnancy I was asked by friends and patients about how impending motherhood can impact one’s regular fitness routine and now I’m experiencing those changes first hand.
The good news? Just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean you have to say farewell to the treadmill for nine months. In fact, sometimes a little sweat and a lot of endorphins are just what your body and baby need. That said, some changes need to be made.
From stress reduction to flexibility to preparation for labor, working out while pregnant is great for you (and your new, future family member). Before you begin – even if you’re following the same routine you did pre-pregnancy – be sure you check with your healthcare provider. This is a “new you” and as you grow, a new body as well, and you want to be sure you and your baby are given the green light from a trusted healthcare professional. If you didn’t work out a lot before conception and this is a new routine for you, it’s especially important you check in with your doctor to be sure neither you nor your baby are at risk!
2. Avoid Dangerous Contact Sports, Modify Your Current Program
As you move further your pregnancy try switching to more gentle exercises (and one that you can modify to suit your needs and body) like a cardio dance class. As I tell women who are expecting, it isn’t that this is a “no work out time” it’s a “new workout time”. Not only is your body changing in size and shape (which totally affects your work out), but it’s also changing on the inside. For instance, the hormone “relaxin” increases in your body which not only loosens up your pelvic muscles for delivery but also loosens all your other ligaments and muscles, which can make you more injury prone without you even realizing it.
3. Never skip a Warm Up
Just like when you’re exercising pre-pregnancy, whenever you work out it’s important that you ease into your physical activity and get your body ready for it. This will not only protect you during your work-out, but helps prevent strains and pains after the exercise is over, and let’s be honest, with pregnancy you have enough of that already!
4. Work to Strengthen your “Core”
Though there have been plenty of myths out there that say abdominal work isn’t allowed in pregnancy, as long as you’re doing it correctly it’s actually encouraged! Strong abs and a strong back help tremendously during pregnancy and childbirth – when you’re in labor you’ll thank me, I promise! After your first trimester, laying on your back is discouraged, so you’ll want to move from ab work on the floor or mats to moves like standing abdominal tilts and belly tightening that help your body while keeping baby safe and sound.
Keep this handy list for yourself or share it with friends who are expecting!
Dr. Yael “Dr. V” Varnado is a Cornell-educated physician and a medical and health expert, known for her ability to deliver straight, relatable and relevant information on timely topics that matter most.
She is passionate about women’s health issues and teaching all those she reaches about preventative care, helping to stop heath problems before they start. Dr. V is the creator of the Live Right at Night Campaign focusing on women’s sexual and physical health and safety between the hours of 5 pm and 9 am.
She is also the founder of the Get Checked for Life non-profit that assists members of underserved communities, improving their quality of life by educating and giving them access to the necessary tools and medical resources. You can find Dr. V on Facebook and Twitter via @AskDrV and online at www.AskDoctorV.com