Expectant women often wonder how to stay fit during their pregnancies. It’s important to continue activities that can help maintain your fitness during pregnancy, as they can help keep you and your unborn baby healthy. Once you’ve talked to your doctor, following a sensible plan for exercise and diet can help you maintain your fitness throughout your pregnancy.
Women who are pregnant have special dietary needs and you will need to adjust your diet to keep you and your unborn baby healthy and fit. Consult a registered dietician to discuss your specific dietary needs and how you can best get all of the vitamins and nutrients necessary to maintain your health and fitness.
Your doctor, local hospital or birthing centre can suggest a registered dietician to help you meet your dietary needs and fitness goals.
As much as workouts should keep you healthy and strong during your pregnancy, fitness should also be fun.
Do you ever feel too tired to exercise? Incredibly, exercise gives you more energy. If you feel too exhausted at the end of the day, try to work out earlier. Focus on doing what you can, when you can. Go for a walk, stretch, or do short prenatal workout.
Worried about not being able to do your favourite workouts when you're pregnant? Get educated about the do's and don'ts, and you won't be so scared. More often than not, if it feels wrong (meaning uncomfortable, unsafe, or too challenging), it probably is. You need to listen to your body. Still, you can find a way to do them at a moderate level, unless your favourite workouts are skiing, horseback riding, or playing football, then those types of workouts are really unsafe during pregnancy.
There are some basic rules though: Don't go breathless - always be able to talk out loud -, avoid twisting, and stop doing crunches after 20 weeks (or ask your healthcare provider).
Maintaining Fitness through Nutrition
Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. As a pregnant woman, you need to make sure you are eating the proper nutrients to sustain healthy, fitness, and your pregnancy. By eating a healthy, well-balanced diet you can help ensure that you and your unborn baby get the necessary vitamins and minerals.
In addition to your regular calorie intake, you will need to factor in extra calories for sustaining your pregnancy. You will need up to 450 calories per day to support your unborn child.
Eat healthy and nutrient dense foods such as lean proteins including chicken or beef, fruits and vegetables such as raspberries or broccoli, and dairy products like yogurt or cheese for calcium.
Be careful when consuming seafood or fish. Limit your cooked fish intake and your canned intake. Avoid tuna steaks, swordfish, mackerel, shark or any other fish with high mercury levels. However, there is no need to avoid low mercury fish, such as salmon.
Try and avoid unhealthy calories such as those found in sweets and junk food.
You might want to avoid any foods that can cause digestive issues for you or your child, or unborn baby, including spicy foods, eggs, wheat, corn, or peanuts. However, keep in mind that some research has suggested that this is not an effective way to prevent allergies.
If you are suffering from nausea or vomiting due to either morning sickness and find it difficult to eat, consult your doctor or a registered dietician, who can help you find solutions to get proper nutrition.
Drink plenty of liquids. It’s important to make sure that you’re drinking plenty of liquids while pregnant. Not only do you need enough liquid to avoid dehydration and support your pregnancy, but you also need it to help maintain your fitness.
You should drink at least 15 cups of water a day to stay hydrated and sustain your pregnancy.
Water is the best choice for your needs, but you can also drink non-caffeinated tea, and juices. Clear, non-caffeinated soft drinks such as ginger ale may help with nausea.
You may consume coffee or caffeinated teas and soft drinks in limited quantities. Do not consume more than 200 mg of caffeine per day, which is about the same as two eight ounce cups of coffee. Consult with your doctor to make sure it’s safe to consume any of these beverages
Avoid alcoholic beverages and tobacco. It’s advisable to avoid all alcohol and tobacco while you’re pregnant. Using these substances can be potentially harmful to you and your unborn baby and may undermine your efforts to stay fit.
There is plenty of evidence about the risk of alcohol consumption for pregnant women, so consider avoiding alcohol altogether while you’re pregnant.
Tobacco use can put your unborn child at risk for conditions such as low-birth weight and respiratory diseases.
If you smoke while pregnant, speak to your doctor about possible treatment options to help you quit and keep your unborn baby healthy.
Consider taking prenatal vitamins. Your body will need sufficient additional nutrients to support a pregnancy and stay fit. Consider taking a pre-natal vitamin to help you get additional nutrients you may need and not be getting through food.
During pregnancy, the body is designed to put your child’s nutritional needs before yours.
Try and get as many nutrients as possible from healthy and whole foods.
Make sure to speak to your doctor before taking pre-natal vitamins or ask him/her to prescribe some for you.
Healthy Tips for Staying Fit During Pregnancy
Recovery and Sleep.
Ensure you have enough rest, no athlete would train continuous for 9 months and you shouldn’t either. Our body adapts and improves whilst we are recovering and sleeping, this is even more important through pregnancy.
It is advisable you have an easy week or a complete week off every 6-8 weeks just as you would if you were an athlete training for an event!
Get to bed early in a dark room that will allow you to sleep for a minimum of 8 hours. If your quality sleep isn’t happening you need to be taking steps to fix it! Remember that your body is growing a baby, so you need much more rest than normal.
Choose Exercises you Enjoy
To make sure you maintain your exercise and to help you stay motivated it helps if you do the exercise and activities that you love. Don’t try and take up swimming if you hate it just because you heard it was good for pregnant women!
You just need to modify your exercise programs by reducing duration and intensity and choosing specific pregnancy exercises that you will enjoy.
Do what you love so you can keep exercising up to birth.
You don’t need to lose your muscle tone during pregnancy! To avoid extra pregnancy weight gain and improve prenatal fitness and strength then it is paramount that you exercise. A regular exercise program will maintain muscle tone which in turn increases your metabolism’s need to use fat as fuel.
A strength based program using weights is usually best for muscle maintenance but specific exercises using just your body weight also works well.
Strength training will also reduce muscular aches and pains associated with pregnancy and will prepare your body specifically for labour and birth.
It’s best to also avoid plodding along on a treadmill. This is usually resorted to as a safe bet when you are not sure what you can do. It is better than doing nothing but will ensure very average results and won’t help maintain muscle tone.
If your exercise wear looks and feels great then you are going to wear it, as simple as that. Treat yourself to a new workout wear, one that will accentuate your bump and how fit you look to keep you motivated to continue to exercise and stay in shape!
Think about comfort. You want clothing that will keep you (and your baby) from getting too hot while you work out. A garment made with 100% cotton is a better choice than choosing one made out of a polyester blend, since cotton pulls moisture away from your body.
Stand up straight!
You can look slimmer just by being aware of your posture. Rounded shoulders and a forward head posture can reduce the room baby has to grow and move making your bump appear much bigger. It’s also just not an elegant look!
Make sure you include postural strengthening and stretching exercises into your weekly exercise program.
Good posture also helps to reduce lower back and hip pain, position baby into optimal fetal position, reduce diastasis recti-abdominal muscle separation and improve pelvic floor muscle strength.
Learning to carry your pregnancy more efficiently with good posture is key to a pain free 39 weeks.
You are going to put on weight during your pregnancy and for women who exercise it can be anything from 8-20kg. An increase in weight may worry some women if this is you then STOP weighing yourself.
If you are following these simple tips you are going to stay in fabulous shape during pregnancy so putting on extra pregnancy weight should be the last of your concerns!
If you want to record body measurements to assess your physical changes then it is advisable you measure around the widest part at the top of your arm and leg with a tape measure and record these measurements every 4-5 weeks.
Empirically, with continuous exercise, minimal fluid and healthy weight gains in these 2 areas will not increase by more than 2-4cm.
Listen to your Body
Lastly, listening to your body is the key to staying in shape. Every woman is different and what works for one may not work for another. You will have weeks were you have heaps of energy and others when you have none. Do not push yourself if you are tired, it is not good for you or your baby!
Listen to your body for the best results and to enjoy a happy and healthy pregnancy.
The key is finding a reasonable level, and that depends largely on the shape you were in before, the activities your body was comfortable with, and your health during pregnancy. Always check with your doctor or midwife first, but here's food for thought for the novice and the enthusiast, as well as some basic dos and don'ts.
Some Safe-Exercise Guidelines
Here are some guidelines to help keep your exercise routine safe for you and your baby:
Any woman who wants to exercise during pregnancy should get her doctor's OK first. Certain medical conditions -- such as preterm rupture of membranes, pregnancy-induced hypertension, preterm labour, persistent second- or third-trimester bleeding, poor fetal growth, incompetent cervix or multiple-birth pregnancy -- may require modifying or avoiding exercise.
Drink plenty of water before, during and after exercising, particularly in very hot or humid weather. That goes for swimming, too, even though you may not feel dehydrated. An increase in core body temperatures in early pregnancy can cause fetal defects, and dehydration in late pregnancy is associated with premature labour.
Always include a warm-up and cool-down when putting muscles to work. Gentle stretches will prevent strains, joint injuries and muscle cramps.
Dress in comfortable clothes that wick sweat and keep you cool. Shoes for running, jogging and walking should have good cushioning under the heel to avoid injuries to the foot or Achilles tendon. Bras should provide good support.
Don't overflex or overextend the knee joints, as with deep-knee bends, unless your body is well-conditioned for these motions. Knee joints are more prone to injury because of the pregnancy hormone relaxin, which softens ligaments and tendons.
Stop exercising immediately if you experience symptoms such as chest pains, vaginal bleeding or uterine contractions, or if your membranes rupture.
Remember to eat a balanced diet, preferably five or six small meals or snacks per day, to replace the calories and glucose used by your working muscles during exercise. Metabolism speeds up during pregnancy anyway.
Avoid exercises on your back after the first trimester or whenever you feel dizzy, lightheaded or nauseated. The weight of your uterus puts pressure on the vein responsible for returning blood from the lower body to the heart.
These sports are generally not recommended during pregnancy: contact sports, such as football and basketball; adventure sports, such as water skiing and scuba diving; and sports that carry a high risk of trauma, such as horseback riding and downhill skiing.
Maintaining Fitness through Exercise
Exercise can help anyone be and feel healthy, and this is also true for pregnant women. Understanding the benefits of exercise during pregnancy can help you maintain your fitness by helping to motivate you.
Why Should I Exercise in Pregnancy?
There are lots of good reasons to keep active when you're pregnant. Exercise improves your muscle tone, strength and endurance, which may make it easier for you to adapt to the changes that pregnancy brings. Regular exercise will:
Help you to carry the weight you gain in pregnancy.
Prepare you for the physical challenge of labour and birth.
Help minimize pregnancy related problems such as constipation, back pain, or swelling
Improve your mood, and give you energy.
Help you to sleep better.
Make getting back into shape after your baby is born easier.
Give you the chance to meet other mums-to-be, if you opt for a class.
Safe Exercises for Pregnant Women
An excellent form of cardiovascular exercise for moms-to-be, is low-impact aerobics. This involves no jumping or hopping movements, or stepping upon any type of platform, putting you at risk of jarred joints, but includes rhythmic movements that keep one foot on the floor at all times. You can find these kinds of classes at your local gym.
Running is one of the quickest and most efficient ways to work your heart and body, and you can vary the distance as your energy levels allow. However, if running is new to you, pregnancy is probably not the time to start. It’s best to stick to more gentle exercise, such as walking or swimming. Swimming
Swimming is an ideal, and safe, form of exercise in pregnancy. It exercises your arms and legs, and works your heart and lungs. The bigger your bump gets, the more you’ll enjoy feeling weightless in the water.
If you enjoy group activity, you could join an aquanatal class or aqua aerobics class. Exercising while standing in water is gentle on your joints and supports your bump. It can help to ease back pain and swelling in your legs in late pregnancy. Yoga
Pregnancy yoga helps to maintain muscle tone and flexibility and improve your posture. It’s kinder to your joints than more vigorous types of exercise. However, you should also do some aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, a few times a week, to give your heart a workout. Stretching helps to keep you supple, though don't overdo it. Think about gently opening and extending your body, rather than pushing yourself. Your yoga teacher will show you how to relax your body and mind. Make sure that your yoga teacher is experienced in providing advice for pregnant women. It’s best to go along to a pregnancy yoga class, rather than start with a DVD. The exercises you learn may help you with relaxation and breathing in labour, too.
Depending on how you use them, strength bands (also called resistant bands) can be great for beginners as well as more advanced exercisers, to add some light to medium resistance to your workouts, without the use of free weights. You can use them for basic exercises or to add intensity to traditional moves.
These bands are made from latex material or thick elastic cording and are available with or without handles.
To insure the safety of you and your future newborn here's some guidelines to follow:
Perform 2 exercises per body part, versus 3 sets each.
Increase your rest periods to 2 minutes between sets, to avoid getting too hot and a dangerously elevated heart rate (Keep below 140 beats per minute). And be sure to avoid holding your breath at any given time.
Keep the resistance low to moderate depending on your stage of pregnancy and your reps between 8-10 (Stay away from reaching muscle failure).
Eliminate all exercises that require lying on your back. This position may decrease the blood flow to the uterus and therefore the baby.
Eliminate all abdominal exercises or exercises that require lying on your stomach.
Eliminate exercises that may cause loss of balance. Lunges and squats should be substituted for seated leg curls and leg extensions. Free weights may also add to your loss of balance, so the use of machines is recommended to prevent joint injuries. If free weights are used, you should always pay close attention to your form.
It's also important to include stretching as part of your exercises because it helps you maintain flexibility. Your joints become very loose during pregnancy, due to hormonal changes, so make sure you stretch before and after your workouts, moving slowly and gently without any bouncy, jerky movements.
Don't Forget your Kegels
Kegel exercises help to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that support the bladder, uterus and bowels. You have the ability to relax and control these muscles in preparation for labour and birth. They are also encouraged during the postpartum period to promote healing of perineal tissues, increase urinary control and help these muscles return to their healthy state after giving birth.
Kegels should be done every day, by imagining you are trying to stop the flow of urine or trying not to pass gas. Contract and hold for a count of five and then relax. Repeat this contraction ten times each set, for about five sets. At first, it may be difficult to do, so start out with a couple of sets and work your way up.
Don't Lose your Groove
Generally speaking, you can carry on with a dance class if you did it regularly before you were pregnant. Or you can get your heart pumping by dancing to your favourite tunes in the comfort and privacy of your own home. Try not to leap, jump, twirl or change direction suddenly, as you may lose your balance. If you join an antenatal dance class, you can lose yourself in music, while keeping fit under the instruction of a qualified teacher, who can adapt the moves to your stage of pregnancy.
Simple daily housekeeping can keep you in tip-top shape, which can include dish washing, dusting and arranging the house - without lifting very heavy items - and other light house chores can make you feel active and agile.
Having a little intimate time with your man will really keep you in shape. Thank God for sex! Enjoy it even more in positions you feel comfortable in.
Look Out For The Warning Signs
If you feel any of the following symptoms during exercise stop and contact your doctor immediately:
Pain anywhere, especially back and pelvic region
Headache or dizziness
Increased shortness of breath
Vaginal bleeding or fluid leakage
Decreased fetal movement
Rapid heartbeat at rest
Any daily activity is better than no activity, so be sensible. This is the time to enjoy your pregnancy. Embrace your changing body and take pleasure in the movements your baby makes.
....making effort to "STAYWELL"