Healthy Pregnancy: Exercise

As I mentioned in the last post, I had been working out regularly before getting pregnant. While working out at my gym, one of my friends/gym-mates was pregnant, and I got to see this amazing athlete work out through her whole pregnancy. (Seriously, I couldn’t keep up with her on sprints and she was 34 weeks pregnant! I know I’m slow, but it was a bit demoralizing.) I was inspired by her speed, strength and that she kept with it all the way through.

Watching her made me start thinking about and researching the benefits of exercise during pregnancy, and it made me resolve not to turn into a lump the day I found out I was pregnant. As I mentioned before, my pregnancy with Sugar was not the healthiest. I walked some during the pregnancy, but that was it, and my walking as more like strolling without getting sweaty, so is that really working out? Even people on the Biggest Loser do more than that!

So, I did what I resolved to do. I stuck with it. I kept getting up at 5:20 four days a week and going to my crossfit workouts. There were some rough mornings of dry-heaving in the driveway, experiencing dizziness and much more soreness than before (thanks to pregnancy hormones), but it was worth it. I was able to stick with it for 32 weeks before I had to stop going because by then, I could barely get through the warm ups without modifying and my pelvis screaming. After that, I switched to a mix of walking my 2.5-3 mile loop (which got progressively slower and slower), ellipticalling, and deep water aerobics. Listening to my body was the most important thing. I also followed the “talk test”. As long as I could talk through my workout, I knew baby was getting enough oxygen.

There are so many benefits to exercise during pregnancy, and I notice in my work with pregnant moms, that it is something that is often completely overlooked or scaled back too early. I got so interested in this subject that I wrote a research paper on it for my doula certification. Anyway, onto the benefits (each of these you can research yourself in depth):

-more controlled weight gain
-better sleep
-improves digestive issues
-decreased gestational diabetes
-increased placental efficiency (more blood and oxygen to baby)
-baby grows well but has less fat
-babies tend to have a better adjustment to the outside world–easier to calm, etc. (not sure about this one for Speedy, but he has always soothed really easily by bouncing–perhaps all that moving around and walking during pregnancy?)
-shorter and easier labor (Ha!!!! My original post said, “I’ll take it!” Had I known all that a one hour labor and birth might entail, I might have only worked out three days a week instead of 4-6…)
-fewer complications during labor as babies are used to some oxygen deprivation and recovery from exercise

Some resources that helped me through the pregnancy and kept me motivated were:
-my trainers Seriously, people, if you are looking for a place to work out in BCS, check them out!
CrossfitMom.com (she has some great ideas for scaling workouts for each trimester and her forums are very helpful, too)
MamaSweat (specifically her pregnancy posts)

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