When I learned that I was pregnant with my son, my husband and I were absolutely thrilled! As a first time mom, I had no idea how my body would change from pregnancy, but I felt ready for this new journey. But as a fitness enthusiast, I was nervous! Every woman hears horror stories about what pregnancy does to your body and society is so cruel when it comes to postpartum bodies. Now that I’ve gone through pregnancy and delivery, I want to share my fitness journey while I was pregnant, how much weight I gained & my tips for how to approach your health and exercise during that magical time. Check it out after the jump! 😉
My First Trimester.
I was very blessed in my first trimester. I suffered from only mild morning sickness; I felt some nausea, dizziness and light-headedness, but never vomited and found that naps usually helped me feel better. I found that the nausea made it hard for me to eat (even when I was hungry), so I would try to make sure that the food I ate was as healthy as possible (my hubby makes a daily shake with spinach, berries & yogurt that I began to try) and I started faithfully taking a prenatal vitamin. I did develop a taste for tacos (yum!) so I would sometimes have two small chicken tacos for lunch. I also ate all kinds of fruit during my pregnancy and became obsessed with grapes in my first trimester.
In terms of exercise during my first trimester, I first spoke to my doctor about what I could do. She advised that because I was already physically fit, continuing to exercise was fine. So, when I felt up to it, I worked out with a pregnancy-friendly light workout DVD. (I highly recommend Suzanne Bowen’s Slim & Toned DVD. You can get it on Amazon here. This is a totally unpaid endorsement, I just bought it and loved it!). However, I was also incredibly fatigued during my first trimester, so that made it hard for me to be consistent with exercising. My first trimester was lots of naps, trying my best to eat as healthily as I could, and doing light exercise if/when I could.
I gained 5.5lbs in my first trimester.
My Second Trimester.
I LOVED my second trimester. My nausea went away and I felt far less fatigued than during my first trimester. It was at this point that I felt strong enough to incorporate exercise more consistently into my daily routine. I again checked in with my doctor, who told me that stepping up my exercise in the second trimester would be just fine. So, I dusted off my 21 Day Fix DVD and got to work! I skipped any workout moves that required me to be on my back; these exercises can compress the vena cava and cut off blood to your heart (dangerous for baby and mommy). Instead I would do squats (work that booty!), hold up arm weights or do upright ab moves. It felt so good to break a sweat again! I was careful to back off if I ever felt myself getting overly tired and doubled up on my water intake since hydration during pregnancy is super important. I continued to track my weight diligently and also started tracking my baby bump! 🙂 My son was always super active at night and very serene in the morning, so this made working out in the AM the best timing for us. At the end of every workout, I would rub my belly and thank him for letting mommy get through another day! It was great feeling like I had a happy little passenger with me during those mornings.
As I drew closer to the end of the second trimester, my belly started getting heavier, so I bought a workout support belt (paid for this one and loved it) to give me a little more support. I would strongly recommend using a belly band or belt if you plan on working out while you’re pregnant! Definitely helps out your lower back. Around the 6 month mark, baby was starting to really feel heavy. So I decided to revert back to my lighter pregnancy friendly workout DVD and also started exploring prenatal yoga and pelvic floor DVDs. Pregnancy can really do a number on your pelvic floor (the group of muscles that spans your pelvis and supports your bladder, intestines and the uterus). Given the weight of carrying a baby, your pelvic floor is under a lot of pressure, so keeping it strong before and after pregnancy is important. I bought a great pelvic floor DVD (again, I paid for this DVD myself and loved it) and started committing to those exercises on a regular basis.
I gained 14lbs in my second trimester. My waistline also grew to about 40inches.
My Third Trimester.
I was in the home stretch! But let me tell you, the home stretch felt like an eternity! After the energy I felt in the second trimester, the third trimester felt like I was moving at a glacial pace. My belly was getting super heavy & it was also the dead of summer at this point (I was 7 months pregnant in July), so the heat and extra weight was really starting to wear on me. I also gave into eating a lot more during this trimester, some healthy (salmon & avocado salads at lunch) and some not-so-healthy (bacon, egg & cheese sandwiches for breakfast, mini-Milky Way bars as snacks 😉 ). I had to pee ALL THE TIME, as my little boy kicked/punched my bladder on a regular basis. This also meant I needed to drink more water, so the cycle of drinking water and going to the restroom escalated for the entire three month period. In terms of exercise, my lower back was straining under the weight, so I shifted to doing strictly prenatal yoga workouts going forward. I would recommend this prenatal yoga DVD (paid for this one too and just loved it) because it has modifications for each stage of pregnancy.
As my due date drew near, I also started to retain a lot more water- hello swollen legs and feet! This made walking difficult, let alone exercising! So in the last few weeks, when I had the energy I would walk (on the treadmill or outside if it wasn’t too hot). And of course, I focused a lot on hydrating, putting my feet up and waiting for my little one to make his appearance!
I gained another 14lbs in my third trimester. My waistline grew to 44inches.
My Pregnancy Fitness Tips
Tip #1: Safety FIRST.
You are carrying a new life inside of you. This is probably the hardest thing your body will ever do. I’ve run half marathons and the NYC Marathon- they don’t hold a candle to pregnancy! So treat yourself and your baby well & keep safe. Before you think about exercising, talk to your doctor about what is safe and appropriate for your fitness level and your pregnancy. Do NOT starve yourself out of worry about gaining weight. In the first few months of your pregnancy, your body will grow an entirely new organ: the placenta. Think about that- a NEW ORGAN! This takes an incredible amount of energy, so you will be tired and will need solid rest and nutrition. This is NOT the time to take up a new, grueling fitness regime (even if you’ve done Insanity before, as Shaun-T would say “know your limits” 🙂 ). Your limits will also change as your pregnancy progresses; what you feel comfortable doing in month 3 will not be the same as what you feel comfortable doing in month 7. So safety and checking in with yourself & your doctor should always be of the utmost importance. Also create options for yourself to safely dial up/down the intensity of your exercise as your pregnancy progresses.
Tip #2: Track Your Progress.
I hate the saying “eating for two” when it comes to pregnancy. Your baby isn’t a full grown person, so you don’t need to double your calories because you’re pregnant! A healthier way to think about it is that your pregnancy is going to put new demands on your body for energy, so you’ll need to develop a healthy plan. To develop that plan, you need to know your starting point, so my first tip would be to weigh yourself as soon as you learn that you’re pregnant and talk with your doctor about what is a reasonable amount of weight to gain for your specific case. Then come up with a nutrition/exercise plan that will work for you. Generally, doctors advise women to gain anywhere from 25-35lbs in pregnancy, but this may/may not be feasible for you. Also, your weight gain may be lopsided; if you have terrible morning sickness you may even lose weight in your early months and then gain weight later on! Be kind to yourself but also clear on how much you’ve gained and that it’s safe. I weighed and measured myself weekly throughout my pregnancy and I think this kept me on a solid path when it came to eating healthy and exercising, even as I enjoyed, bacon and Milky Ways!
Tip #3: Nothing Compares.
There are so many silly articles out there about what your pregnancy should be like from a fitness perspective. Don’t compare your pregnancy or your body to anyone else’s. Your pregnancy journey is insanely unique! It’s exciting and beautiful and should not be a source of stress over weight gain and “snapping back”. Also don’t worry about how your body changes (whether you are “all belly” or gain weight everywhere). There’s a little human being inside of you! At some point you have to just embrace the experience and every lump or bump that it may bring. If you find yourself comparing your body to someone else’s and getting down on yourself, try to remember that your pregnancy isn’t about the external, it’s about this miraculous internal bond between you and your baby. Stay healthy and stay connected to that.
What was your fitness experience during your pregnancy? How did you manage weight gain, nausea and the many other challenges that pregnancy brings? Please share in the comments below!