Learning Objectives: Identify recovery strategies for exercise training in pregnancy; Understand the importance of hydration with endurance training in pregnancy; Understand the importance of healthy eating patterns in pregnant women.
Pregnancy can be an exciting and exhausting season of life. Being intentional about recovery can lead to healthier and more positive experiences leading up to the baby’s birth. The following areas of concern can help to promote healthier habits in pregnant clients.
- Prioritize sleep. While anatomical changes can make sleeping difficult, aim to create a relaxing environment that promotes rest. Sleep is a crucial time for our tissues to recover and regenerate. Reading a book or using an eye mask can help one to mentally unwind.
- Schedule active recovery days. Incorporating workouts that are low-impact and less intense may not only help your pregnant client recover faster, but also may help avoid burnout with exercise long-term. Encourage your clients to move because it feels good, not because they have to. Prenatal yoga classes are increasing in popularity to promote the mind-body benefits that come from recovery days as well.
- Aim to create healthy eating patterns. Pregnancy does increase the metabolic demands on a woman by about 300 calories daily on average. Women should focus on a balanced eating plan that includes vegetables, fruits, lean protein, whole grains, dairy sources, and healthy fats. This calorie increase can easily be attained by eating regular meals and snacks when needed, very similar to the healthy, nonpregnant individual post-exercise.
- Supplement when needed. According to the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, all pregnant women should consume 400 micrograms of folic acid at minimum on a daily basis. Iron and calcium are other nutrients of concern, however adequate amounts can be consumed through a balanced diet and prenatal vitamin/mineral supplement. If your client is experiencing aversion to certain foods and/or nausea, they may consider working with a registered dietitian nutritionist for individualized tips and guidance.
- Don’t be afraid to try something new. Clients may find that with their ever-changing bodies, certain favorite exercises may not feel so great. Aim to adapt to your client’s needs. Offer various options such as a different piece of equipment or another style of training altogether. Ask the client what feels best to them.
- Listen to your body. Whether this means a different mode of exercise or an increased amount of food, remind your client that they know their body best. You are there to help support them along this journey.
Before each training session, consider asking your client how they are feeling. Use this answer to help identify what your client may want to focus on. Over time, you may identify patterns that can assist in exercise programming for recovery whether that be adjusting duration, intensity, or type of exercise. Building a network of other trusted health professionals such as dietitians and fitness instructors, can help you to offer the best client experience throughout their pregnancy.
By Katie Hake RD, ACSM-CPT a registered dietitian nutritionist and an ACSM certified personal trainer. In addition to her private practice, Katie Hake Health & Fitness (KatieHake.com), LLC, she works as a metabolic dietitian for children and adults with rare genetic metabolic disorders. She loves teaching group fitness classes and empowering women to find their fierce through the joy of eating and moving.