Exercising for Two

In light of our country’s growing obesity problem, which has now grown to include childhood obesity, I feel it is fitting to discuss a little bit about staying fit during one of the most formative times in a child’s life: their time in the womb.

It saddens me that there are still women that believe that working out will harm their unborn child, or that they could somehow produce birth defects by getting their heart pumping and working up a good sweat.  These are old ideas, and they are simply not true.

Pregnant women can enjoy the same benefits of a regular exercise routine that non-pregnant women enjoy:  boost in energy level; weight control (while, of course still gaining at a steady rate); prevention of diabetes, hypertension, and depression; and increased stamina and muscle strength.

Of course if you have already been exercising before conceiving, it will be easier for you to continue an exercise regiment, but that is not to say you cannot start one after becoming pregnant!

There are a few things pregnant women are not advised to do:

  • contact sports like baseball, soccer, basketball, etc.
  • downhill skiing or snowboarding
  • scuba diving
  • cycling

Other than that, there are so many other exercises that are safe for pregnancy:

  • walking
  • running (if you had been a runner before conceiving)
  • yoga
  • weight lifting (less than 20 lbs.)
  • aerobics
  • swimming
  • stationary exercise machines
  • hiking
  • yes, even Tae Bo 🙂

Of course, ask your ob/gyn or midwife before starting an exercise regimen while pregnant.  They will probably give you a few warnings:  if you become dizzy, short of breath, have chest pains, abdominal pains, or have vaginal bleeding, stop exercising and see your doctor/midwife.  All of these could be signs that you are either working yourself too hard or that there is some other problem.

I would never refer to myself as a workout fanatic, but I have always loved working up a good sweat, and this information was music to my pregnant ears when I first conceived.  Exercise helped me to cope with my growing body, some aches and pains, and to control some of my pregnancy weight gain.  This time around, I am determined to stay active longer (I stopped running about 7 months into my first pregnancy because of, um, bladder issues).  I was told by my ob/gyn to listen to my body for cues that I should slow down or ease up.  This was excellent advice.  

Everybody is different, of course,but I was surprised at how much I was able to do!  I was able to continue running (a bit slower than usual, of course), doing almost all my usual yoga positions, and some light weight lifting.  If I felt any pains (not aches, but sharp pains) I would stop or slow down.  Exercising while pregnant wasn’t as scary as I had thought.

The hardest thing about exercising while pregnant isn’t finding something to do to work up a sweat or listening to your body’s cues, but staying motivated.  I am not going to lie that the whole “I’m pregnant and should be sitting around eating bon bons” mentality would kick in every once in a while.  Some of the things that have been keeping me motivated are:

  • Bruno:  if he isn’t walked twice a day he is a crazy puppy.  Enough said.
  • Labor:  I had a long labor with Bitsy Girl, and I’d like to have some more muscle strength to deal with another long labor.
  • Weight control:  if I gain 75 lbs during this pregnancy, I’ll have 75 lbs to lose after Numero Dos is born
  • Beard:  he loves frisbee golf, and it’s an excellent date night.  And unlike regular golf, it is not a good walk spoiled.  😛
  • Bitsy Girl:  I have always wanted to be a good role model for my children in the respect of taking care of my body, and pregnancy should be no exception in my mind.
  • Exercise high:  also known as “runner’s high”;  ever felt those sweet, sweet endorphins after a good hike or run?  I love that feeling!

For those of you who are pregnant (or may become pregnant in the future) I hope I’ve given you some good information on why and how to exercise for two.  

What kind of things motivate you to keep in shape during pregnancy? 

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