Pregnancy – 5 things you can do to stay fit (plus 3 extra)
I went through two pregnancies in my late thirties and early forties, and the second was twins. Both pregnancies were considered very high risk because of not only my age but some other complications (and did I mention there were TWO babies the second time??) I’m happy to say that despite some expected discomfort near the end, I experienced very healthy pregnancies and my kids were all born at good weights and got to go home with me after two days. My doctors attributed my lack of high blood pressure, diabetes and premature labor to how fit I was before my pregnancy and to my fitness routine through my pregnancies. PLEASE do not use this as medical advice, though! Every person and pregnancy are different so if you are interested in any of these things please take this article to your doctor and ask if this would be okay for you to do.
1) Get it in your mind that you are NOT exercising to avoid weight gain, but to get your blood circulating and to train your body (back and core especially) for the monumental task ahead. If you are expecting multiples you will be amazed at how much weight you are supposed to gain in order to give your babies their best chance. If you’ve spent your life feeling like a failure if the numbers on the scale increase you’re going to need to work at changing your mindset.
2) Get a heart rate monitor and make sure your heart rate stays under 145 (check with your doctor about the rate they are comfortable with for you). I know I felt capable of doing my same workout and cardio routine for about the first four months, but I did find that my heart rate was accelerated all the time, so I had to tone it down. Babies’ hearts beat even faster than ours and they respond to ours, so you don’t want their little tickers going too fast.
3) Trade the dumbbells for resistance bands. The great thing about dumbbells is you use other muscles to stabilize while you are using them, but that can be a problem as you get further along. I used light hand weights through my pregnancies but I am used to them. Resistance bands are great because you can stay toned but won’t throw out your back because you’re not used to a different center of gravity.
4) Listen to your body! Any contractions mean you’re pushing too hard. With my first pregnancy, I didn’t know those funny feelings were contractions until about seven months along. When I got big enough to be unwieldy, I noticed that if I did anything too fast, I’d feel them, so I had to really slooowwwww it down.
5) Focus on stretching. I am not a stretch-er. I never feel like I have time for it. I have learned that this is not an opinion that serves me or my body – especially while pregnant. Sometimes stretching IS the workout when you’re having a tough spell.
6) Seated leg extensions, side leg lifts, and standing side lunges (not too deep) help strengthen pelvic area and help a lot later. I’ve had some doctors ban me from squats and lunges and some say go for it. Ask your doctor, but I found shallow standing leg lunges really helped take the pressure off my hips when I was carrying the boys.
7) Get a support band and wear it every time. I can’t stress this enough. Those support bands are indispensable. I wore one all the time, even when I wasn’t working out, but wouldn’t consider moving around without one.
8) Eat way more protein than you think you should and drink way more water. I had to get a nutritionist when I was pregnant with my twins and protein was one of the things that was a non-negotiable for them. Some days all I could fit in was protein shakes (well okay, and ice cream). But your babies need it.
I’ve heard time and again that if you are already fit, then the best thing you can do is keep doing as much as you can once you’re pregnant. With all things, get medical approval and do what you can to enjoy this special time of your life!