Things You Need To Know Before Starting Prenatal Fitness

Updated: Jan 2


Congratulations on your new baby bump! Now it's time to get down to the not-so-pleasant reality of your changing body. If you're reading this, you've already started considering your options for staying fit during this surreal time of every-changing physicality. Way to go! You've taken the first step in sanctioning a healthy start in your child's life! Research links so many incredible benefits to prenatal exercise. Gone are the days of hiding your 'delicate condition' and seclusion in your room. We've moved past the basic Lamaze breathing and meditation classes and have a myriad of prenatal fitness classes catered to pregnant and post-partum women at our disposal.*

So whether you're picturing yourself attempting downward dog, signing up for a stroller club, sashaying through your bellydance class, or maintaining your regular jogging routine, here are a few bits of advice we've rounded up from moms they wish they had known first!

It should go without saying that the most important thing for any expecting mom to check off the list first is to talk to your physician. It's not the first or last time you'll hear this – everyone is different. So be sure to go over your fitness goals and plans with your doc to make sure you get the green light for yourself.

7 Things You Need To Know Before Starting Prenatal Fitness

  1. Invest in The Right Attire. You may be trying to stuff “the ladies” into bras you already own, but you're gonna need to bite the bullet and invest in a couple of really good sports bras. Georgie says, “My best investment was good bras. Your boobs kill even at the best of times, so any extra movement was just a hindrance to me.” You might even consider a belly band for more support in higher impact routines like jogging or zumba class.

  2. Balance will become tricky. As your belly grows, your center of gravity changes week to week. Even having a constant routine of going for a walk around the block a few times a week will help your body and brain adjust incrementally to it. I don't know how many times I literally misjudged the distance between myself and the counter in my kitchen and bonked my belly. Not to mention turning quickly around only to end up falling over!

  3. Diastasis recti is a real thing. Diastasis recti is a condition in which your abdominal muscles (rectus abdominis) can't keep their shape because of the pressure from your pregnancy, and they begin to separate. It can be painful, causes your belly to pooch out unflatteringly, and takes a long time to correct. Simple strengthening exercises like those done in yoga, pilates, and even bellydance are good for strengthening those muscles slowly. But it's really important you don't attempt lots of crunches towards the second and third trimester, and “boat” poses are ill-advised. It's best for you to move from lying down position to standing by rolling to one side and getting up from your knees, rather than trying to sit up – those muscles can easily be strained

  4. You might feel sluggish at first, but you'll feel so much better afterwards! Even the gentlest of movement classes like simple stretching daily will benefit your body's circulation and thereby improve your energy level. Georgie says, “I had poor circulation throughout my pregnancy. I wish I had been confident enough to try a yoga class, but we had just moved to a new town and I was shy. I think it would have helped me so much. Baby number two will definitely be a yoga baby!”

  5. Keeping a routine helps fatigue & mental health. If you can manage to schedule a small amount of exercise every day or every other day, you'll be surprised how much of a difference it will make in your overall well-being. I was really sick during my first trimester and could not get through a whole work day or go out much, so I found myself depressed at home alone all day. I found that forcing myself to go for a 30 minute walk around my neighborhood every afternoon gave me a little boost of energy and helped me shake of the “lonelies” by seeing neighbors and kids playing at the nearby school.

  6. Schedule fitness around your best or worst part of the day. Don't underestimate the need to time your activities right! If you know you feel your worst in the afternoon after lunch, don't sign up for a swim class at that time or you'll easily find yourself skipping them in lieu for a nap!

  7. Bladder breaks are a necessary evil. You're also gonna want to schedule things around bladder breaks. A 2-hour bike ride in an area without public restrooms might be a bad idea. And take up residence in the back of the tai chi class so you can slip out to the restroom without disturbing classmates and feeling embarrassed.

  8. Re-assess in the moment. Be prepared to take it easy some days. Some days you might have a burst of energy and feel completely “normal.” While other days, you'll get winded climbing your front porch. As a dancer, even the basic warm-ups were enough to wear me out some days. I would get angry that I wasn't able to execute certain moves some days and would feel guilty in front of my students or dancemates. I wish I had been a little easier on myself!

  9. Everyone is different. Some fitness fiends feel perfectly fine keeping up with their marathon training right up until delivery. Just ask Anky van Grunsven (she took the gold medal in equestrian Olympics 5 months pregnant in 2004), Anita Spring (competed in beach volleyball Olympics 4 months pregnant in 1996) or Kristi Moore (competed in Olympic curling 5 months pregnant in 2010).** On the other end of the spectrum, there are also many athletes who hit a wall figuratively during their pregnancy and have to scale their fitness level way back. Autumn had been an aerialist for years, and she says, “As someone who was pretty fit prior to pregnancy, I had this idea in my mind that I could be just as active once I was expecting. Unfortunately, I had a lot of complications that forced me to a level of activity that was just a notch above bedrest so any exercise was out of the question until I was 5-6 months. I really struggled with that as I witnessed other pregnant women participate rigorous activities, posting to social media with #fitpregnancy while I had to sit on the sidelines. When I was finally cleared to exercise, I had to participate at practically beginner level because I had been almost sedentary for so long.”

And remember, injuring yourself is so much easier when you're carrying a bump. Not just from loss of balance and sluggishness, but also because your ligaments get softer and more pliable all over your body. I remember developing a weird version of carpal tunnel syndrome in which my thumbs would feel like they were popping out of place painfully doing the most mundane activities. Rachel says, “I injured myself somehow around 14/15 weeks. It took nearly the whole pregnancy to recover.”

All in all, you gotta do you and find what works for your pregnancy. Hopefully these tips will give you a heads up in the game!

* side bar content:

{Benefits of Prenatal Fitness:

Reduces Backaches

Reduces Fatigue

Increases Circulation

Relieves Constipation

Improves Balance

Increases Pelvic Floor and Core Strength

Eases Delivery Fatigue

Increases Self Confidence}

*** Source: https://www.sports-reference.com/olympics/friv/lists.cgi?id=77


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