Pregnancy is an extremely physical time in a woman’s life. You are growing another person, which is pretty incredible! But how do you balance your nutrition, exercise, rest and weight gain to have a healthy pregnancy.
Start Where You Are
The first step on any journey, including pregnancy, is to start right where you are. What kinds of exercise have you already been doing? According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, if you have been running for exercise, you can probably continue as long as you have a low risk pregnancy. On the other hand, if you are not a runner already when you get pregnant, you should start slow by walking or doing light cardio exercises.
You should also consider your pre-pregnant weight. If you are starting the pregnancy at a normal weight, plan to gain between 25 and 35 pounds over the course of the pregnancy. If you are over or underweight, talk to your provider about how much weight you should gain.
Plan, Plan, Plan
Healthy eating, exercise and resting does not happen by accident. If it did, everyone would be fit and healthy. These things only happen if you plan for them. Think about your day and your routine. Should you exercise in the mornings or in the evenings? Do you have a long enough lunch break to take a yoga class on a regular basis? Plan your meals as well. You can portion breakfast and lunch servings on the weekends to grab an easy and healthy option each day.
Establish a Good Routine
Once you have your plan, turn it into a routine. Make appointments with yourself for your health and keep them. Schedule a class or commit to a workout buddy so that you are sure to stick to your exercise plan. Your routine should also include planned times for meals, snacks and rest. Establish and stick to a bedtime. Remember that growing a human takes a lot of energy. You will need more sleep during your pregnancy than you may have required when you were not pregnant.
Be flexible in two ways! Realize that your routine may be disrupted by things beyond your control. Change is a part of life and you may have to shift your plans in order to achieve your goal of exercising on a particular day or week.
Also, be flexible! Add stretching to your routine. Hip stretches, squats and lunges will help you be strong and ready for labor and birth. These stretches can also help with muscle spasms that are common in pregnancy.
Try Something New
As your baby and belly grow, some exercises will start to feel awkward. You will need to change your workout strategies as the months go by. After your first trimester, you should avoid exercises that require you to be flat on your back, as your growing uterus may compress blood vessels in your abdomen, leading to dizziness. You may notice pelvic pain and pressure when running or hiking. Slow your pace to make sure you are comfortable during your workout. This is a great time to try swimming, water aerobics, and, if you haven’t already started it, yoga.
Let us know your thoughts and personal experiences in the comments section below!