Pregnancy is not an excuse for slacking! Your body will change in ways that are unbelievable. Having pregnancy fitness goals is one way to help combat undesirable changes. And girl, those changes are coming.
If it’s your goal to stay healthy and fit during your pregnancy, then you’ve come to the right place.
As a labor nurse and a mom of seven children (one adopted), I am fully aware of the benefits of taking care of your body during pregnancy. I worked hard not to lose control of myself during pregnancy. It was a daily battle, of which I won during some pregnancies more than others. I have had many people say to me, ” You don't look like you've birthed six kids.” I'm not sure what they think I should look like, but I consider it a success that I don't look like whatever it is they picture in their mind.
Not only does a prenatal fitness plan and eating healthy during pregnancy fight for your figure, but it also does wonder for your birth experience. I've seen the differences in my patients who choose to work out and eat healthily. Compared to the women who take a 40-week break from working out, fit moms rock their labor and delivery experience.
Disclaimer: Do not start a fitness routine without clearing it with your provider.
Benefits of Prenatal Exercise:
- You have more energy.
- You will gain less weight.
- It eases back pain during pregnancy and labor.
- You sleep better.
You will most likely feel like garbage during the first few months of pregnancy, so staying fit will seem like a lofty goal. Morning sickness is no laughing matter; it is relentless. Not only will you feel awful but you will feel like you haven’t slept for days. Early pregnancy feels like it will never end and you walk around in an exhausted fog.
I remember when I was pregnant with one of my boys, Mike came home from work to me lounging on the couch. He had the nerve to ask me what I had been doing all day, and I replied with, “well, I was building eyeballs today, How about you?” You may laugh, but it’s true. You are building an entire human in ten months. That’s not a simple task momma, so go easy on yourself.
Never before has your body felt this way, and you may think you are utterly out of control. I'm here to tell you; you can do this. Choosing to commit to a fitness and nutrition plan is a way in which you can be in charge and make an impact on the changes your body will undergo. Being active feels contrary when you are nauseated, but it does help. Trust me on this one.
Okay, so back to being committed. Create a plan of action, and determine to it even on the days you feel like a truck ran you over.
Find a Pregnancy Fitness Partner
Staying fit during pregnancy is a more likely to happen if you have a workout buddy — someone who will call and harass you if you decided to stay in bed one day. We all have those few friends who can get away with bossing us around, and that's who you need now. You will be much more likely to stick to your plan with a friend.
A pregnant friend would be the best, but anyone who is willing to commit will work to motivate you to keep your pregnancy fitness goals.
If you don’t have extra money for a gym membership and the weather is terrible, meet your workout partner at the mall and walk quick laps inside. My friend and I did this while she was pregnant. We walked four times a week at a local mall until spring, and then we moved to an outdoor walking trail. I can still recall some of the interesting conversations we had during those walks. Like the time her daughter, Judah was regularly assigning animal names to the people she knew. She gave me the name Elephant, and I still haven't recovered.
A pregnancy fitness partner takes a boring workout and makes it fun and memorable.
Make a Plan
You do not have to work out seven days a week. That’s crazy talk. Make a plan of working out at least two days a week, but preferably three. If you were consistently working out before pregnancy, your provider would most likely clear you to continue the same regimen, with minor changes at certain points during your pregnancy.
Being committed with a solid plan does not mean you have to do a full-on workout every time you exercise. Girl, If you only have 15-20 minutes to give. Get up and move. Walk during your lunch break or in the evenings with your husband.
Example of a Pregnancy weekly plan:
- Monday & Thursday: Walk briskly for 15 minutes during lunch. Go up and down stairs at home for 15 minutes.
- Wednesday: Meet “Heather” at the gym, 20 minutes cardio and strength training for the upper body.
- Friday: Meet “Heather” at the gym, 20 minutes cardio and strength training for the lower body.
- Saturday & Sunday: Walk the dog for 10-20 minutes
Change Up Your Workouts
Keep yourself on your toes by doing various types of exercise. Varying your routine will keep you from getting burnt out and also keep your muscle groups guessing.
Vary your cardio workouts weekly but be mindful of your body and if you become winded slow down.
About cardio, be mindful of your target heart rate and avoid overexertion. You can find your target heart rate on the American Heart Association page. In the past, you would have been told not to exceed a certain number, but that has changed. Now they say stick to the target heart range. Adjust your workout according to your heart rate and the target heart rate you found above.
Examples of Beneficial Pregnancy Workouts:
- Prenatal yoga
- Stationary Bike
- Stair Climber
I can not stress enough to you, how excellent an exercise ball is for pregnancy.
Not only for working out but for sitting in a squat like position. Squatting during pregnancy (not swats like with weights) will stretch your perineum and prepare it for birth. My mom told me to do everything squatting while pregnant. For example, If you are watching tv then squat and lean back onto the couch, instead of sitting on the couch. She also told me to mop the kitchen floor squatting and use a rag. I didn't take her up on that one.
An exercise ball allows you to squat while maintaining balance.
Start by opening your legs wide and squatting down to sit on the ball. (see picture above). It stretches the perineum and also strengthens the muscles needed for birth. Using the ball will also build your legs and core muscles.
Your exercise ball is also wonderful to use during labor. It opens the pelvis and allows the baby to move down. All of this assists in opening your cervix. That's a win! Especially if you want to have a natural birth.
Proper pregnancy Nutrition is vital. You are building a human being inside of you. Pregnancy is a fantastic time to continue or initiate a healthy eating plan. Pregnancy is not the time to go off the grid and eat whatever you want.
- First Trimester: Eat healthily. Extra calories are not necessary during the first trimester. Whatever you can keep down is a good enough plan. If possible try to eat something with a higher amount of protein than carbs.
- Second Trimester: Add around 300 extra calories per day. An additional 300 calories equal two glasses of 2% milk. So skip the ice cream sandwich, my friend.
- Third Trimester: Add around 500 extra calories per day. You should try to add them as a healthy alternative. For instance, Smoothies are delicious and filled with healthy nutrition compared to other foods.
- Multiple Gestation Pregnancy: Add the same amount of extra calories but per baby. For example, for twin gestation, you add 1000 extra calories during the third trimester.
You may enjoy Pregnancy Smoothie Recipes That Will Make Your Life Better.
YOU MUST DRINK WATER! Hydration is essential during pregnancy. Dehydration can cause a plethora of problems so don't go there.
I can not tell you how many times a week we have to start an IV and hydrate a mom. It's a problem. Dehydration can cause preterm labor contractions. You should be drinking around ten cups of water per day.
Important to note: Soda does NOT count. You may be shaking your head. However, many times when I ask a triage patient if they have stayed hydrated, their answer is, ” Yes, I had a coke!”
Soda is not the right answer, and your labor nurse will not be happy. Think about water!
The importance of sleep during pregnancy cannot be stressed enough. Your body is working hard to make your child. You need at least eight hours of sleep a day. Not only will the stress from lack of sleep affect you, but it will also harm your baby. Take advantage of your pregnancy to rest and sleep appropriately.
Lack of sleep can lead to depression and depression can increase the risk factors for birth complications. If you are struggling with insomnia (especially during the second and third trimester) speak to your provider for solutions.
Pregnancy Fitness Goals
I am so proud of you for realizing you need a fitness plan during your pregnancy. I hope we have helped you understand that pregnancy fitness and healthy nutrition are essential components of a good pregnancy. Also, you will be a much happier new mom if you are in shape and have energy from a healthy diet.
Comment and let us know how you plan to stay in shape during your pregnancy or your stories related to your fitness during previous pregnancies.
Hey Mamas! I hope you loved this post from Trish at Habibi House. Make sure you leave a comment below to let her know how much you enjoyed this post! In the mean time, here are my suggestions on what to read next to have the best pregnancy possible.
What To Read Next:
- 16 Indispensable Pregnancy and Labor Tips from A Labor and Delivery Nurse
- 13 of the Absolute Best Pregnancy Tips For First Time Moms
- The Ultimate Guide To Packing Your Hospital Bag: What To Bring When You're Having A Baby
- Dad's In The Delivery Room – What NOT To Do
- 17 Natural Ways To Induce Labor Yourself
- How To Manage Visitors in the Hospital When You're Having A Baby