Many expectant mothers want to stay fit throughout their pregnancy, but they’re concerned about causing injury to themselves or harm to their unborn baby. The good news is, you absolutely can and should workout during pregnancy, as long as your doctor approves!
Naturally, you’ll want to take some extra precautions to keep you and your baby safe. But exercising regularly during pregnancy offers many benefits, including keeping your energy levels up, boosting your mood, and supporting post-partum recovery… just to name a few.
Let’s take a look at five tips for staying fit and avoiding injury during pregnancy so that you can work out with confidence.
Proper Nutrition is Key
Staying healthy and fit during pregnancy starts with good nutrition. Your body needs the right vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to keep your energy levels up so that you can stay active. Proper nutrition will also help your body recover faster after exercise and keep inflammation in check.
Of course, those nutrients also provide the raw materials your body needs to grow a new life. Throughout your pregnancy, you’ll want to focus on eating a variety of whole foods every day. The bulk of your diet should revolve around vegetables, fruit, lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats.
Limiting your intake of caffeine and sugar will help you avoid energy highs and lows, as well as mood swings. You’re probably already dealing with hormone-related mood swings and fatigue, so the last thing you want to do is make things worse.
But let’s be honest. Eating a clean diet all the time is challenging, even when you’re not pregnant. And now you’re dealing with hormone-induced cravings, aversions, and nausea. That’s why taking a high-quality prenatal vitamin is absolutely essential.
Choose organic vitamins for expecting mothers. They’re specially formulated to provide the nutrients you and your growing baby need most. You can even get them in chewable gummy formulas that taste and smell good, so you don’t have to worry about swallowing pills.
Get Your Body Moving the Right Way
Staying active throughout your pregnancy offers many benefits, including boosting your metabolism and building lean muscle. It will help to keep your energy levels up and reduce aches and pains, too. It could even make labor and delivery easier and help you recover faster postpartum.
It’s best if you can plan ahead and start working out before you get pregnant. That way, your body can get used to exercising before your belly begins to grow and you’ll be less likely to injure yourself.
However, you can still start a fitness routine after you get pregnant, as long as your doctor gives you the all-clear. Walking, swimming, yoga, and light strength training are generally considered safe during pregnancy, and they’re a great place to start even if you’re not used to working out.
Whatever form of exercise you choose, be sure to start slow. Choose a pace and intensity you can maintain for a reasonable amount of time, then increase it gradually as your fitness improves. This type of progressive approach will provide the same benefits and help you avoid soreness and injury.
Learn to Listen to Your Body
Learning to listen to your body when you’re working out during pregnancy is crucial for avoiding injury. If there’s discomfort or something feels a bit off, take things easy that day. Instead of strength training that day, do some gentle prenatal yoga or go for a walk.
And, if you notice that you’re feeling a bit dizzy, short of breath, or experiencing pain during your workout, lower the intensity or stop for the day. Or, give yourself permission to take the day off if you need it.
Don’t forget, you’re creating a new life and that’s a lot of work. Your body will tell you what its limits are. You just have to remember to listen!
Warm-Up First and Use Proper Form
Never jump into your workout without warming up first. Five or ten minutes of gentle cardio will get your blood pumping and your muscles warmed up. This step is crucial for preventing injury.
It’s also important to learn proper form for whatever type of workout you’re doing, especially if it’s yoga or strength training. Work with an experienced instructor at least a few times. They will show you the correct form and offer tips for adapting the exercises as your pregnancy progresses.
Using proper form will reduce the risk of injury, especially as your center of gravity begins to change. It’s well worth taking the time to learn how to do things right.
Learn What Moves to Avoid
In general, if you were already working out before you got pregnant, you should be able to continue to do the same types of exercises throughout your pregnancy. Simply lower the length and intensity of your workouts as your pregnancy progresses.
However, you should avoid any contact sports or activities that increase your risk of falling. You should also avoid laying on your back for more than a few minutes, especially during the last two trimesters.
It’s also important to know that the body produces Relaxin during pregnancy. This hormone loosens the ligaments and joints to prepare you for labor and delivery. You should be careful to avoid any jerky movements or overextensions that can put additional strain on your ligaments and joints.
Some doctors also recommend avoiding activities that require you to contract the muscles in your abdomen. Be sure to consult with your health care provider about any other activities that should be avoided.
Wrapping Things Up
Staying fit during pregnancy isn’t just about keeping the extra baby weight off. It also reduces your risk of complications like gestational diabetes, reduces aches and pains, and strengthens the muscle used during childbirth. Following the nutrition and fitness tips outlined above will help you avoid injury while providing numerous benefits for you and your growing baby.