I do want to start by saying that pregnancy is NOT the time to push your body. Your body is changing. Your stability changes. Your balance changes. Your muscles stretch. Your ligaments become more flexible. You can easily hurt yourself if you push yourself too hard during pregnancy. Plus, you're growing a human!! I tell clients your #1 goal during pregnancy is to keep that baby safe and healthy! You're not supposed to get your heart rate too high or push yourself past the point of exhaustion. If Momma doesn't get oxygen, baby isn't either. Don't forget that. My rule of thumb was always to exercise, but scale it back just a bit so I didn't over do it. I knew the point that was "pushing it" for me, and I never went past it.
My doctor always told me (and the general rule of thumb is) if you were doing it pre-pregnancy, you can continue during pregnancy. You'll obviously have to watch the intensity and scale back as needed/make modifications as belly grows, but overall, you can continue your regular workout routine. For me, I continued weight lifting into both of my pregnancies. I just had to modify and adjust as needed (lower weight amount, sit vs. stand to keep my back from hurting, lay on incline bench vs. flat, etc) Make sure you ask your doctor of the modifications needed at each stage of pregnancy. I ran with both my pregnancies until about the start of my 2nd trimester. Lots of women run during pregnancies with big ol bellies, but for me, it never felt good. It was one of those things that just didn't feel right and while I like to run, I remembered pregnancy was a time to listen to my body, scale back, and adjust. So I did.
Below are 3 ways I was able to stay fit and healthy during two pregnancies, while still gaining weight and doing so the healthiest way possible.
1) Snack Smart
Pregnant women are not "eating for two" like you often hear. Yes, you're eating to nourish your growing baby, but that growing baby is not the size of a grown human. You don't need to consume enough extra calories for a grown human when pregnant. Instead, pregnant women only need an extra 300 calories a day. (Breastfeeding women need about 500 extra calories a day) For me, the key to steady and healthy weight gain, during pregnancy, was smart snacking. My appetite was always out of control during my pregnancies and I grazed a lot during the day. (I'm home all day and I eat lots of small meals vs 3 big ones) I made sure I had smart snack options available: Greek yogurt with berries and granola, PB and an apple or banana or celery or carrots, hummus and veggies, small piece dark chocolate, Lara Bars, handful of nuts. My go-to snack after supper around 8pm, when I always needed a little something more, was a coffee mug of Organic cereal. Something like an Organic Cheerio like cereal, or Organic Multi Grain Squares with skim milk. It was always satisfying and never too heavy that late at night. And I had my fair share of times I ate too many servings of lasagna for dinner, or a scoop too many of ice cream. I didn't beat myself up. I just moved on and did better next time. I knew I was being active and those moments wouldn't doom me. As long as you are choosing wisely and aren't thinking "I can eat whatever I want, whenever I want!" you'll survive. :)
2) Exercise 3 Days a Week
I typically got 3-4 days of exercise in with both of my pregnancies, but always had the goal of 3 days. That doesn't mean there were some weeks I only got 2 in. If you've followed me since Allie's pregnancy, you know I had to take some time off exercising for about 5 weeks due to intense Braxton Hicks contractions around weeks 25-30. Then, at the end of Allie's pregnancy, I was just too uncomfortable to do much and didn't exercise regularly the last month or so. With Landon's pregnancy, I exercised up until the week I delivered him. Getting in 3 days a week is a great goal because that's 3 days you're moving, getting those muscles moving, heart rate pumping, and burning calories.
3) 30 Minute Walks
Listen, pregnancy can be super uncomfortable. You're growing a newborn baby in there. By the 3rd trimester you can feel pretty miserable at times. Your belly is big, your hips and back ache, and you feel out of breath. Sometimes, you need to rest. Take a break. But if you feel like exercising, just walk! I was the queen of walking during my pregnancies. I walked a TON with Landon. That was my go-to exercise in the last several weeks of his pregnancy. I went on my lunch break to a nearby gym or local park and walked 30 minutes. I wasn't walking very fast because I was so big, but I was moving!! With Allie, I couldn't walk quite as much because - strangely enough - it actually hurt my lower back. But on those days I felt good, and I needed some light movement, I walked. Maybe not 30 minutes, but something! Walking is a GREAT way to stay healthy and active during pregnancy. PLUS: walking is a great way to ease back into exercise post-baby too. You need doctor approval first, but I was walking around 2 weeks post-baby with both of my kids. I had C-sections both times, too, so I went SLOW and only did 10 minutes at first and slowly worked my way up. It's a great way to ease back into it!
It is possible to stay healthy and active during pregnancy, but sometimes things happen and you can't. If you're put on bed rest or have complications, don't beat yourself up. You will have the chance to work hard and push yourself after the baby, believe me. Remember, pregnancy is a beautiful blessing - not everybody gets the pleasure to do it - so give yourself a break, relax, take care of yourself and that baby, and ENJOY it!!!!