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Working Out While Pregnant: Tips and Lessons Learned

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Working out while pregnant tips and lessons learned best practicesI am currently seventeen weeks pregnant, this is important to share because my goal in writing this is to encourage other expectant or soon to be expectant moms to keep moving. Seventeen weeks ago I would have said; “Sure, whatever I know.” However that was before a PCS, before morning sickness, and before a move that threw my whole routine for a loop. In October I was teaching 7-9 high intensity classes a week, (think; Bootcamp and Spin) I also ran a 10k that month, however November had me in a moving truck driving from one coast to the other while trying to keep my stomach from emptying itself onto the dash.

I never would have guessed how hard pregnancy can make it to stay active, and that’s coming from someone who was already very active. Needless to say my first trimester consisted of more naps than workouts, and I’m just now starting to get back into my workout groove. My point is; it isn’t too late. I continued running when I could the first trimester, and moving ensured that I didn’t fall behind on my weight lifting even if I had traded dumbbells for boxes. Staying even just a little bit active allowed me to maintain my strength and endurance so that once that second trimester hit and I was raring to go again, I could without worrying about the little life growing inside of me.

I checked with my doctor and she gave me the green light, her advice was to listen to my body. If I started to feel tired or out of breath, back off a little bit. However I was cleared to do any of the workouts I had been doing prior to pregnancy. So I started teaching again, I teach my boot camp classes a couple times a week, and even added a stretch and tone class: which no matter what stage of life we’re in is always a good one to do. In the past few weeks as my energy has returned and my class numbers have grown I have been approached by several other moms to be with questions about prenatal fitness.

My first advice is to always make sure it’s okayed with your doctor, and to listen to your body. If the doctor gives you the green light and your body is feeling it, then by all means get out there and get moving. I’ve read a lot of conflicting advice on mom’s lying on their back after the second trimester, and for anyone that has ever tried to tone their core knows that eventually they end up laying back.

My advice is this; if you’ve never done it before, be very careful, don’t stay there long (30 seconds to a minute) and if you start to feel queasy or light headed sit up. The reason doctors say not to lay back is because your uterus is now big enough that it puts pressure on a major vein called the vena cava, which can affect blood flow to the brain and uterus, so if you feel nauseous or dizzy you need to sit upright to restore blood flow. Again, the big thing here is to listen to your body, and if you have any concerns consult your doctor.

3 Major Takeaways About Pregnancy Fitness

Chinna Curry, 100th Security Forces Squadron, performs kickbacks during the Power Moms fitness class at the North Side Fitness Center, July 26, 2012. The class, held specifically for pregnant women, is offered Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 9 a.m. Power Moms’ instructor, Courtney Stamper, 100th Force Support Squadron, said the class is beneficial to pregnant women as exercise helps mothers get back into shape after the birth and can also help make labor and delivery easier. The fitness center offers other classes including spin, circuit and high-intensity interval training. For more details, call DSN 238-2349. Photo from DVIDS, photo by Karen Abeyasekere
Chinna Curry, 100th Security Forces Squadron, performs kickbacks during the Power Moms fitness class which is held specifically for pregnant women. The program is beneficial to pregnant women as exercise helps mothers get back into shape after the birth and can also help make labor and delivery easier. Photo from DVIDS by Karen Abeyasekere

There is so much information out there on fitness during pregnancy that it can be very confusing and overwhelming. There are three big things that I have taken away from all the hours of reading I’ve done as well as my own experiences that I build my prenatal fitness base upon:

1: Listen to your body: If it doesn’t feel right it probably isn’t.

2. Hydration: it is important to try to drink about a gallon of water a day during pregnancy, more if you’re active. Aim to drink at least 16oz of water in the hour prior to exercise, about 8oz every 15/20 minutes of exercise, and at least 16 oz in the hour following exercise. If you’re drinking that gallon you should stay within this range fairly easily.

3. If you have questions or concerns ask your doctor. There are certainly things that inhibit safe exercise during pregnancy such as; asthma, pre-eclampsia, spotting or bleeding, or multiples. One article that I found to be very helpful and concise is published on Medhelp.org titled; How to Exercise Safely When You’re Pregnant, it has a lot of good information as far as what is and isn’t usually safe during pregnancy. So if you still have questions after reading this and before talking to your doctor, this is an informative source.

I hope that I was able to answer some questions and offer some encouragement. There are so many benefits to staying active throughout pregnancy that it really is worth the extra effort to do, even if all you do is walk for thirty minutes every morning. Just stay moving mamas, it really is worth it, you’ll feel much more energized and you’ll have more endurance for when the big day arrives. And for those of you who are thinking of expecting, get moving now. Unless you experience complications in your pregnancy you most often can keep on doing whatever you were doing prior to pregnancy as long as it is still comfortable to do so. I wish you all an active year ahead full of happiness and accomplishments, so go get moving.

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