How to Maintain a Fit & Active Lifestyle During Pregnancy
There’s a lot of talk out there about how to maintain a fit and active lifestyle throughout pregnancy. Not one prego out there has ever said, “Na, I’d prefer the elephant feet, tons of weight gain, and bedridden pregnancy that I’ve heard so much about.” Instead, we see Google searches of “How to have a ‘belly only’ pregnancy” or, “Can I run while pregnant?” The desire to be fit and healthy during pregnancy is growing greatly and- let me tell you something- it’s totally possible!! As I’m writing this, I’m currently 21 weeks pregnant with my second child, and I still am able to make it to the gym, do squats, cardio, and calisthenics, and feel great! Have things in my routine changed? Uhhyes. But for the most part, I’ve been completely able to maintain most of my fitness routine and have no intention of putting my feet up anytime soon! I wanted to share with you a few of the tips I use to stay active while pregnant and I hope you get inspired and motivated by them too!
1 | Get an accountability partner
Ideally, this is going to be someone who will tell-it-like-it-is. For me, that person is my husband. There may be days when you want to punch them in the face for telling you that you should work out, I’ve had those myself, but overall I’ve found that I’m much more consistent when I’m not the only person I’m accountable to. I’m usually the best person there is to make excuses for myself. And while it’s easy to try to throw those excuses in your accountability partner’s face, it might be beneficial to have someone in your life that knows when your excuses are just excuses, and when you actually need a break.
2 | Get Inspired
What inspires you? I get inspired by reading fitness blogs. Not that I’m trying to compare myself to other women, but when I see how other preggos have been successful in staying fit and active during their pregnancies, I’m able to tell myself, “Well, if they can do it, then I can totally do it too!”
I also get inspired just by getting my butt to the gym. When I get myself to the gym, I get excited that I’m being productive and working towards my goals (even if I didn’t feel like it) and it makes me want to keep going and work even harder. It’s when I put my workout off that I begin to lose my momentum and make excuses for myself. BUT, if I can just get myself to the gym, as much as I might not feel like it, I will leave feeling way more motivated than I did when I walked in.
I know this is girly, but I also love buying new activewear. Which is something you’ll have a good excuse to do once your belly starts changing shapes. Tell yourself that you didn’t buy that cute sports bra just to wear it around the house. Treat that new sports bra to a morning out at the gym and let it live out the purpose it was made for!
3 | Know what your limitations are. And aren’t.
I’ll talk about this more later in the post, but when you become pregnant, things within your active routine will have to adjust a bit. But becoming pregnant doesn’t automatically mean it’s time to put your feet up and relax for the next 9 months. Will you have to listen to your body and be more aware of pushing yourself too hard? Yes! Will you have to change certain ways about how you stay active? Inevitable! But, unless you’re told by a doctor, there’s no reason to stop being active while pregnant. I think it’s very easy for pregnant women to want to listen to the women in their lives who are telling them that it is dangerous to run and do strength training during pregnancy. That thinking used to be really normal when past generations were having babies, so that’s probably what they’re going to tell us. What’s important is building up a strong fitness foundation before becoming pregnant, and then doing your best to simply maintain that throughout your pregnancy. If you honestly feel healthy, don’t allow others to tell you to stop being active. Have an open conversation with your doctor about what exercise routines you’d like to maintain throughout your pregnancy and use their “green light” as an excuse if others try to make you feel reckless for trying to maintain your routine.
4 | Get hydrated. And stay that way!
Hydration shouldn’t start by carrying your water bottle into the gym with you. When you wake up, drink a whole 8 oz of water. If you have a cup of coffee (which it totes fine in moderation while carrying that li’l peanut in your belly) have another glass of water after that. Remember to drink plenty of water throughout your workout, even if you’re worried about having to go pee halfway though. A quick trip to the loo is worth it to maintain a healthy mama and baby throughout your pregnancy. Dehydration, especially later in pregnancy, can lead to contractions and preterm labor (I got my facts from here). It’s recommended that pregnant women drink 10 8-ounce glasses of water per day (got those facts right here). Besides the health benefits of staying hydrated throughout the day, you will begin to feel the difference and be able to tell if you’ve had enough water or not. Save yourself the headache and carry a large water bottle with you throughout the day and calculate how many bottles you need to finish to reach your hydration goal.
5 | Set realistic goals
Throughout this pregnancy, my goal has been to maintain the same amount of weight that I had been able to lift. I’m not out to break any records during these 40 (give or take) weeks. But I’d be really happy with myself if I can lift just as much after baby gets here as I could before we got pregnant. That being said, modifications have been made. I can no longer do as many pushups as I could before getting pregnant- my back and abs have made it clear that I must find another way to tone my triceps and core. So instead, I do a tricep rope pulldown with a rope attachment and lying down leg raises. There are many different ways to strengthen and tone your muscles that will avoid straining and putting stress on other body parts. My father-in-law, an extremely knowledgeable physical therapist, says that pregnancy is not the time to start something new. Like, if you’ve never before been a runner, it’s not a great time to start training for that half marathon. There are other great ways to get your heart rate up. It’s also not the time to start weight training. If you were lifting weights before becoming pregnant, then, sure, keep on at it. That’s why it’s so important to make exercise a regular part of your life before becoming pregnant.
6 | Get ready to forgive yourself
You know what happens when you get pregnant? Your hips get wider. This is just something your body does to prepare for delivery that no amount of exercise is going to change. Your body is also going to be delivering a whole lot of your oxygen to your baby, probably leaving you more winded than you remember feeling when you’d go for a job before baby. You’re also going to gain weight (big surprise there). But not all the weight you gain is going to be the baby. Some of it- no matter how hard you work- will be fat. And even maintaining a little extra fat during pregnancy and while breastfeeding is completely normal and a natural way for your body to make sure your baby has everything he or she needs. All of these and more are potentially slightly depressing, real, unavoidable things that happen to every pregnant woman. Be proud for the things you can do, and accept that your baby needs your body to change in order to stay healthy. Your hips will go back to normal. Promise.
7 | Stay safe
This is no joke. Like I said in the point before, your routine isn’t going to (and shouldn’t) stay the same as it did before you got pregnant. You’re going to have to start making changes and taking precautions that you may have never thought about. During my first pregnancy, there were two instances when I started having contractions way before I supposed to. I was lucky enough to be at home with my husband there to call the doctor and help me take steps to make the contractions go away. But being much more active this pregnancy than I was with the last, I had to decide what I was going to do if something like that were to happen while I was out on a run or at the gym. One of the changes I decided to make was to purchase a Road ID, which I now always have on me when I begin to exercise. My Road ID has my name, emergency contacts’ information, and states that I have no known allergies, so if something were to happen to me while working out, I wouldn’t have to take time explaining who to call, that I had no known allergies, etc. It gives me so much peace of mind to know that if something were to happen, my husband would be one of the first people to know and he’d be notified as soon as possible of my condition. Anyone who is active, especially preggos, should really consider taking a Road ID with you before heading out the door.
P.s. I believe in Road ID so much that I got one both for my husband and our son! From 11/24 through 11/28, take advantage of 20% off ALL Road ID products and gift cards, while supplies last!
What are your favorite ways to stay fit while pregnant?
What are some safety measures you could add to your pregnancy fitness routine that would give you more peace of mind?