Finding out you’re pregnant is life-altering news. It’s exciting, and wonderful, and a little scary and intimidating. So much is going to change for your and your life! Not only will your body change — and every part of it will! — but your emotional and mental health will also be affected by your pregnancy and eventual childbirth. Becoming a parent really is a life-changing experience.
When you’re pregnant, it can be really hard not to get too far ahead of yourself. You may feel like you want to immediately go into planning mode and figure out your baby’s life trajectory. Relax! Focus on having the healthiest pregnancy possible and on getting through each day. In addition to eating nutritious foods, one way that you can ensure that you get through pregnancy feeling well and strong is by being active.
Back in the day, the medical community, and society at large, balked at the idea of a pregnant woman exercising. People incorrectly feared that if a pregnant woman were to exercise, she’d somehow make the baby fall out — or other, similarly ludicrous claims — and that she’d actually be doing herself and her growing fetus a favor by staying off her feet, and essentially be bedridden, for the duration of her pregnancy.
Fortunately, views have changed, and the science has come out that suggests that pregnant women by and large should be active throughout their pregnancy, unless there’s a pre-existing condition or a complicating factor that’d preclude them from doing so. It’s imperative that you first talk with your practitioner before beginning any exercise programs while pregnant, just to be sure you have his/her blessing.
Below, I’ll talk about some tips that will help you stay active throughout your pregnancy. Please note, however, that I’m not a medical professional, so if you have any questions, please follow-up directly with your medical professional. His/her opinion and advice obviously supersedes my own.
Some tips to help you stay active throughout pregnancy include the following:
It’s important for all of us to stay hydrated throughout the course of our daily lives, but it’s especially important if you’re pregnant, and particularly so if you’re pregnant and active. Listen to your body to quench your thirst, and be patient with the many bathroom trips you feel you may be making as a result of your growing fetus and your thirst.
Do what you know
Most practitioners will advise that it’s ok for you to continue doing whatever activities you were doing before you got pregnant (but within reason). In other words, if you were a runner before you were pregnant, it’ll likely be ok for you to continue running during your pregnancy. If you were a high-impact athlete before you were pregnant, such as a gymnast, skier, horseback rider, or soccer player, obviously it will behoove you not to continue those sports during your pregnancy so as to minimize your injury risk, both to yourself and to your fetus.
Take things down a notch
It used to be the case that practitioners would say that women could run while they were pregnant but only if they kept their heart rate under 140 beats per minute. The spirit of this recommendation was good — that pregnant women should keep their heart rates low, in an effort to not stress their bodies or their growing fetuses too much — but the numerical recommendation was fraught with issues. These days, most practitioners will instead tell pregnant women that if they want to run (or exercise) while pregnant, just tone things down a notch. For runners, that’d mean that you should be able to effortlessly carry on a conversation while you’re running.
Keep your ego in check
It goes without saying, but if you run or exercise during your pregnancy, do it for the simple joy it brings you; don’t expect to be training hard and setting personal records or personal bests while you are “training for two.” Don’t worry, though; you’ll be able to return to hard and gritty training after you deliver your child. For runners, if you can’t let go of your ego being possibly bruised at seeing your paces slow over the length of your pregnancy, consider not wearing a watch (or not viewing paces at all until after you’re done with your run).
Outfit yourself in a properly-fitting sportsbra
If you want to stay active throughout your pregnancy, it’ll behoove you to get a properly-fitting sportsbra, one that will accommodate your growing body (and ideally, one that you’ll be able to use postpartum, particularly if you’re nursing). Consider talking to other athletes and runners at sports stores in your community to learn about the types and styles of sportsbras that are available and so you can try some on in real life (and ensure that they fit properly). Having an ill-fitting sportsbra is a recipe for disaster, if not also tons of discomfort and pain, so take the time to take care of yourself.
Don’t train through pain; in other words, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!
Finally, training and staying active through pregnancy can be really tough; I won’t lie. Some days you may feel fantastic, like you’re not even pregnant, and other days, you may feel completely sick and totally helpless. Roll with things when you’re pregnant. Listen to your body, and if your body is saying “absolutely not today,” don’t push through it. Never train through pain when you’re pregnant; it’s just not worth it. Have the foresight to know that just because you may feel awful one day doesn’t guarantee that the next day you’ll feel as bad (or worse). Take each day one day at a time — which is easier said than done, I realize — and try not to get too far ahead of yourself.
Provided your medical professional gives you the clearance to do so, it’s possible to stay active and fit throughout your pregnancy. It’s important that you adjust your expectations before going in, knowing that this isn’t going to be the time to set new personal bests, but instead, a time for you to simply enjoy what you’re doing and know that you’re doing it to gain a healthy pregnancy.
AUTHOR’S BIO: JANE GRATES
Hiking addict, foodie and dreamer. Producing at the sweet spot to craft meaningful ideas that endure.