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How to Safely Workout During Pregnancy

How to Safely Workout During Pregnancy

Whether this is your first pregnancy, or your first time working out during pregnancy, you may have many questions. What are the limitations?  How much weight is too much?  Are there certain exercises you should avoid?  These are all valid questions.  Because this is my first pregnancy where I have incorporated fitness into my daily routine, I had the same questions. So, I started doing some research. During my quest to find safe answers to these questions, I had the opportunity to try out a Fit4Mom’s Prenatal Class.  After the class, I had a great conversation with the certified pre-natal instructor as we discussed how to safely workout during pregnancy.

What is Fit4Mom’s Prenatal Class

The Fit4Mom’s Prenatal class is an extension class of Fit4Mom’s.  Fit4Mom is a fitness program for mom’s in all stages of motherhood. It is the nation’s largest provider of Prenatal and Postnatal fitness. Their most popular class is Stroller Strides, which is a great class that includes your child in the workout. The class consists of intervals, strength training, and cardio, all while incorporating songs, bubbles, books, and activities to keep the little ones happy!

The Fit4Baby prenatal class offers a blend of cardio, strength, flexibility and balance training. Women at all stages of their pregnancy can take the class to prep for the changes your body undergoes during pregnancy and childbirth.  It is a great class to challenge you, while also offering a great community of mom’s that are all going through the pregnancy experience.

How to Safely Workout During Pregnancy

My Experience at the Fit4Baby Class

If you have followed me for a while, you know I had to eliminate workouts during my first trimester due to some complications.  This class was my first time doing anything fitness related after getting the go ahead from my doctor.  So, honestly, I was a little nervous about trying it.  I wasn’t quite sure how my body was going to respond.  But, let me tell you, it was such a great experience and I left feeling so excited and ready to get back into my fitness routine! And it was so fun working out with all pregnant moms!  We talked about our pregnancy woes, cravings, what we have researched the most, and so much more.  It was an hour class, filled with challenging workouts and fun conversation.

After class, Tamara, the instructor was so kind to take some time and chat with me.  Since she is a certified prenatal instructor, I threw a lot of questions at her and soaked up all of the information she gave me. Below is a question and answer format of our conversation.

Q1: What precautions should you take in your workout during pregnancy?

  1. Drink plenty of water before, during and after the workout. If you feel any dizziness or a fast heart rate, you may be dehydrated!  It’s important to not get overheated during working out.  Be sure to take water breaks often and ensure your heart rate and breathing are in a safe place.
  2. Avoid lying flat on your back during pregnancy and while working out. This can cause the uterus to press on the vena cava, bringing blood to the heart.
  3. Try using the Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) method to monitor your fitness levels during exercise while pregnant. RPE is a 1-10 point scale with 1 being an intensity of sleep and 10 being an “all out” intensity. Pregnant women should stay between 5-8 RPE. The important focus is not exercise to the “point of exhaustion.”
  4. Make sure to increase calorie intake when taking into account calories burned during exercise. A pregnant woman generally needs about 300-500 extra calories per day. That amount would need to be increased slightly with exercise.

How to Safely Workout During Pregnancy

Q2: Are there any exercises you should avoid while pregnant?

  1. Balance is often un-steady as our bodies grow and change. It is important to keep a strong base, and to hold onto a wall or railing when needed for any exercises where you could lose your balance.
  2. The hormone, Relaxin is present in the body during pregnancy and delivery.  Relaxin loosens the joints.  Because of this, be careful of lateral or side-to-side movements.
  3. New aches and pains may appear: ankles, knees, hips, upper and lower back, and wrists, so be cautious and safe. Ultimately, if it hurts, don’t do it! Now is not the time to “push through the pain!”

Q3: Is it safe to lift weights while pregnant?

It is safe, but recommended to use lower weights with more repetitions.  Back to the relaxin hormone, your joints are loosened and too much weight can be harmful.  Strength training can be very beneficial in your workout during pregnancy as long as you are using the proper form and weight.  If you are unsure of where to start, try using resistance bands.  They are a great tool to modify the resistance to fit your level of fitness.

How to Safely Workout During Pregnancy

Q4: Everyone says to listen to your body when you workout during pregnancy, but what does that actually mean?  Are there warning signs to watch out for?

Yes, there are definitely warning signs to keep an eye out for.  Exercise during pregnancy should never be painful.  If you are feeling any aches or pains in your joints or muscles, it is important to modify or stop the exercise.  Shortness of breath or a rapid heart rate means you need to slow down. Any dizziness, headaches, chest pain, calf pain, swelling or unusual muscle weakness could all be signs that you need to stop, drink some water and take it easy.

Q5: What are the benefits to working out while pregnant?

  1. A strong core and fit cardiovascular system can help with labor, delivery and healing post-partum.
  2. There is a lower risk of gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia, and less weight gain during pregnancy.
  3. Pregnant women are often tired, but working out during pregnancy actually gives you more energy and helps you sleep better at night.
  4. Working out alleviates the common aches and pains of pregnancy such as back pain, while helping with circulation.
  5. During pregnancy, the weight of baby in utero and growing breasts can continuously pull a mom’s body forward throughout each trimester, leading to a forward roll of the shoulders. By doing certain shoulder and back exercises, stability is created around the shoulder blades, keeping them in alignment which can lead to less muscle fatigue and pain.
  6. Fitness during pregnancy reduces stress and anxiety and lifts your spirits!

Q6: What are some pregnancy exercise modifications?

  1. Cardio Exercises: Do a low impact modification if a high impact move is too much for you. For example, you can do a plank walkout instead of burpee, or a squat to calf raise with arms up instead of jump squat.
  2. Balance Exercises: Use a wall for balance or do a wide stance squat to maintain a safe balance.
  3. Core Exercises: During the third trimester especially, support yourself on your elbows during ab workouts if it’s uncomfortable to lay all the way back. For leg drop exercises, rather than doing a straight leg out, bend your leg instead.

workout during pregnancy modifications

workout during pregnancy modifications

workout during pregnancy modifications

My Biggest Takeaway From This Experience

I tend to be very cautious during pregnancy.  I don’t want to do anything that may in any way cause a complication.  Because of this, I have been apprehensive about my normal workout routine during pregnancy.  What I found to be most helpful from my conversation with Tamara was that, as long as you are not doing anything drastic, it is very safe to incorporate normal everyday workout routines into your pregnancy. In addition, there are very few modifications you need to do as long as your body is responding well to the workout.

I hope this question and answer post was helpful as you are either preparing for pregnancy or are currently pregnant. Please remember, it is always important to consult your doctor if you have any questions or if you have experienced any complications during pregnancy.  Safety is always the number one goal when it comes to your workout during pregnancy, so be sure you keep your doctor in the loop!

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