Exercising safely during pregnancy

As a prenatal nutritionist, I felt confident about my knowledge of what to eat during my first pregnancy and excited to put it into practice to nourish my growing babe. I was much less confident when it came to what I ‘should and shouldn’t be doing’ physically though. I spent my fair share of time on Dr.Google, reading different things about heart rate limitations, lying on my back, inversions and other restrictions put on pregnant women. Just like the nutritional advice found on the internet, the contradictory advice only confused me further.

Turning to a trusted source, I asked one of my favorite fitness instructors who is thoroughly trained in prenatal fitness. She gave me the best advice I could have received: just listen to your body. It was exactly what I needed to hear and it made so much sense, because it’s the exact same approach I take with nutrition. I understood clearly that my body would tell me my limitations much better than Google would.

I really believe that a woman’s intuition never speaks to her more loudly then when she’s pregnant. We should honor this and pay attention to our instincts, whether it’s with the food we eat or the exercise we do. What works for you can and probably will change from day-to-day and month-to-month, so it’s good to continually check in with yourself and your ever-changing body.

Staying active has always played a significant role in my health & wellbeing, both mentally & physically, and I wanted to maintain an active pregnancy too. So I listened to my inner voice and my body told me (pretty loudly) not to push myself too hard, to rest more often than I was used to, and to avoid deep twists. If I ever felt pressure, discomfort or lightheaded during an activity or in a certain position, I stopped immediately. I’ve also heard the recommendation to not push yourself more than 70% of your normal exertion levels, which seems like a good guideline as well.

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First trimester:

Energy levels may be lower, but any activity that you’re able to do (within your comfort zone) will greatly benefit both you and your growing babe. So unless medically indicated, pregnancy shouldn’t be an excuse for inactivity. Exercise improves mood, aids digestion, and encourages blood circulation, which helps your baby to receive nutrients and oxygen more effectively.

Second trimester:

Energy levels will probably be at their highest during your second trimester. Take advantage of this and do what feels right for your body, making modifications whenever needed.

Third trimester:

Although you may tire more quickly in your third trimester, gentle exercise can actually be invigorating and strengthens you for the physical task of labor. Walking, yoga or any activity that gets your blood flowing can also help to alleviate excess swelling in the body, which often creeps up in your final trimester. Swimming is also a great activity in later pregnancy as it takes the weight off of your lower body to help relieve pressure and any joint pain. Plus, a buoyant belly feels fantastic!

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