Since I’ve personally been asked this question many times during pregnancy….there must be other moms wondering the same thing.
Is it good to work out when your pregnant?! Will it hurt the baby?! Is it hard on your body?! Some people have very strong opinions supporting an active pregnant lifestyle as well as criticizing an active lifestyle. There is no black and white answer to this question. Some doctor’s say yes…. some say no. Some research says it’s awesome, some say it can be harmful. The biggest question you have to ask yourself is what was your exercise schedule like before you were pregnant?!
If the last time you lifted a weight was in high school gym class then being pregnant isn’t the best time to strive to squat 150 lbs. If the last time you were out of breath was when you unloaded the dishwasher then you probably shouldn’t start training for the Ironman. Or if the closest you’ve gotten to a downward dog is bending over to tie your shoes…. then becoming a yoga contortionist may not be advisable.
Carrying a child is a big enough physical challenge/change to your body already so adding any drastic physical lifestyle changes isn’t the best idea when your pregnant. However if you have always been active before baby, then your body already knows how to adapt to regular exercise and you will be able to exercise well into your pregnancy as long as everything is healthy and normal with you and baby.
So do I still work out? Absolutely! I’m 31 weeks tomorrow and I’m still squeezing into my stretchy pants and cramming my cocktail sausage toes into my shoes. Exercise has always been a big part of my lifestyle. I have consistently gone to the gym 5 days a week since I was a teenager, so me being pregnant hasn’t changed that. Of course HOW I work out now is completely different though. My pre-pregnancy workouts used to consist of strength training, bootcamps, mountain biking, hiking and weight training. Now my workouts range from body resistance training, light weight training, walks, pre-natal pilates, pre-natal yoga and swimming. Low impact exercises are best during pregnancy, especially in the third trimester when your ligaments, joints and muscles are stretching the most, leaving you more susceptible to injury.
But always listen to your body! I personally need to stay moving during my pregnancy. I become VERY stiff and sore when I sit around and don’t do anything. The more active, flexible and loose my muscles stay the less pain I am in at the end of the day. But there are some moms who are in excruciating pain past five months simply by walking longer than 10 minutes. Some mom’s continue running right up until their due date… that’s great for them! Personally the only time I run is if I’m being chased. I still love doing weights and yoga right now whereas some women may feel more pain then pleasure doing this type of exercise. Only you know your body and only you know what feels right. Every doctor, midwife, OB/GYN or friend will have difference opinions and views, so listen to how you feel. Of course don’t ignore a professionals advice because there are many medical reasons for avoiding strenuous exercise, so make smart decisions regarding your health.
Lastly, the internet can be your worst enemy! I noticed at about 6 months that my abs had slightly split. During pregnancy this is known as diastasis recti and there are many opinions as to why this happens. Well I made the mistake of Googling this on the internet. Bad mistake! Oh no my abs are never going to be the same! I’m going to need reconstructive surgery! My labor will be ten times worse now! I’m going to have a mommy pooch forever! Sometimes it’s best to not try to figure it out.
Some websites said that stretching causes this, some say that stretching can prevent this. Some said that core exercises are the best preventative measure in order to keep your abs strong, then another website stated that any core exercises during pregnancy will cause your ab muscles to split. Some skinny people get it, some overweight people get it. Some said that Pilates can cause your abs to split, some said that pre-natal Pilates is the best way to avoid your abs splitting. I had no idea if what I was doing or had done was helping or harming?!
I called my mom and asked her if her abs had split and I got the most re-assuring answer. “Did my abs WHAT?! I dunno…. we never worried about that back when we were pregnant. My abs did whatever they needed to do and they seem fine now” That was exactly what I needed to hear. No matter what I did or didn’t do… it wasn’t going to change the fact that my body was designed to create a baby however God intended it to. So I stopped Googling and researching everything. I just kept doing what felt good for me and if it hurt or was uncomfortable I stopped doing it. Everybody’s body is different. Each of our bodies during pregnancy will respond differently, stretch differently, react differently, grow differently and ultimately heal differently so don’t compare yourself to anyone else or push yourself past your comfort level in order to fit some ideal pregnancy mold. Accept your body, honor your body and take care of your body. And if that means sitting on the couch for 9 months catching up on trashy tv then enjoy every minute of it! Or if that means becoming the next Richard Simmon’s for 9 months…. you go girl!
I don’t exercise. If God had wanted me to bend over, he would have put diamonds on the floor.~ Joan Rivers