Yesterday I hit 30 weeks in my pregnancy and the temp outside in Charlotte, North Carolina hit a whopping 104 degrees. My huge belly combined with the weather is making it difficult to breath let alone feel motivated to put on a sports bra and workout. But I’m making a consistent effort to exercise 4-6 times a week. Ever since I hit the third trimester I use the term “exercise” loosely because some days I may only get 20 minutes in and I’m spent. And that’s ok. We just do what we can do.
My pregnancy workouts are a mixture of cardio, light weights, pilates, and stretching. I’m not exercising to burn calories, but instead to help circulation, maintain flexibility and keep my muscles toned and conditioned so I can eventually get into a “body after baby” routine once I get an OK from my doctor.
Here are some of my favorite pregnancy workout tips and a list of exercise essentials to help you feel strong, comfortable and fit–you sexy mommy-to-be!
Stick with what you enjoy. Don’t feel you need to overhaul your exercise plan because you are expecting. If you were an avid runner then run. A 9 Round devotee? Then continue to kick box. Just adapt your routine as you grow. Don’t change because someone else swears a certain type of exercise is best for pregnancy. Also you have a lot going on and you want to be consistent. It’s a lot easier to make time for something you enjoy as opposed to something you are test-driving.
Don’t compare your speed, endurance, intervals, MUSCLE TONE, etc to your pre-pregnancy self. Results need to be sacrificed for the baby. Just be satisfied/excited/happy that you are growing a life and you can get back to honing your form after delivery.
Workout in the morning. Aside from getting your pregnancy workout checked off the to do list, there are a couple other reasons to workout in the AM. 1) It isn’t as hot. If you are exercising outside in the summer then early morning should be the only time you workout when pregnant. Even in the air conditioning I just don’t feel as comfortable exercising after noon. It’s like my maternal radar can sense the humidity outside and it’s harder to breath. 2) You don’t have food digesting in your stomach. I found midway through my second trimester that if I tried to run after I had breakfast (even hours later) I would get a stitch. When I jogged on an empty stomach I was fine.
Hydrate: This seems so basic, but you should be drinking twice as much water than you normally consume during your workout. So aim to get two full glasses downed by the end of your session.
Know that your routine is going to adapt as you grow. You will be hella tired during the first trimester so go easier then. During the second trimester (aka honeymoon period) your energy may spike. Take advantage of it. Don’t push yourself to exhaustion, but maybe go a little longer than you did in the first trimester. By the third trimester your energy level may start to dip again plus your flexibility and center of gravity is very challenged. Adapt your workouts to keep this in mind.
Don’t wear anything too tight. It will make you uncomfortable, feel bigger than you actually are (how is that possible, you say!) and can actually be damaging to your circulation. I’m not a fan of the workout pants that go over the bump after the second trimester because they feel constricting. Just be as comfortable as possible.
Protect your lower back: This is so key. One of the great things you learn in pilates is spinal flexion. When doing squats, plies, standing arm exercises with weights, etc., always consider the position of your lower spine. Ask yourself..”Is this exercise going to tax my lower back?” Remember to tuck your pelvis forward enough to take the stress off of your lower spine before doing the exercise. You can stay aware of your pelvic placement through focused breathing.
Pay attention to form: This is always important, but even more so when pregnant. It’s easy to cramp or pull something because everything is shifting to make room for the baby (your internal organs, spine, everything). When doing pregnancy-specific workout videos don’t assume that just because the instructor is offering exercises for a certain trimester that you should jump right in. Make sure you watch her perform the exercise first and then you try it, slowly, to make sure the rotations and movements are conducive with your body.
List of My At Home Pregnancy Workout Essentials
- Gymboss minute timer
- 3lb weights
- yoga mat
- dishtowel (for side-lying leg and ab exercises)
- Count Me Healthy Color Wrap bracelets to count intervals or glasses of water
- Pillow. This is a must! It goes under your knees when doing exercises on all fours, under your side when doing side-lying exercises and under your lowerback when doing sitting exercises (legs outstretched).
- dining room chair: As you get larger this is used for balance and a point of reference. It can sub as a barre for all three trimesters.
- Pregnancy Workout DVDs. Here are my two favorites: Tracy Anderson: The Pregnancy Project, 10 Minute Solutions Prenatal Pilates & The Perfect Pregnancy Workout Vol. 1 with Karyne Steben.
Good luck in your pregnancy. As always make sure you get a green light from your doctor before you start any exercise routine. What are your pregnancy workout tips? – xx CC