There must be something in the water over here, as this is the first time we have had this many pregnant students. Now, after you have dumped yours out or refilled your water bottle at the Fit Club cooler, we'd like to share some of our frequently asked questions.
Is exercise safe for pregnant women?
Absolutely! If you are already active and engage in regular exercise, there should be nothing stopping you from keeping it up. As long as your doctor has cleared you to exercise, I encourage you to get and stay moving. The strength you build during your pregnancy will serve you well in your recovery.
Is there a form of exercise that is better for pregnant women?
The exercise your body is already accustomed to doing is going to be the best form of exercise for you. Pregnancy is not the time to take up a new sport or start training for a marathon. If you are already a runner, run. If you are already a weight lifter, lift. As your body changes and baby grows, you will know when it is time to start pulling back on your intensity.
Speaking of intensity, can I still do high intensity training?
Yes and no. If you are already accustomed to high intensity exercise, you may be totally fine. As always, I encourage students to obtain clearance from their doctor before engaging in intense exercise. The type of intense exercise that is not appropriate during pregnancy is the sort where your body goes anaerobic. When your body goes this far, not only are you having a hard time breathing, but your baby is, too. An easy way to make sure you aren't going beyond your max is the 'talk test.' You should be able to maintain conversation while exercising pregnant. If you are struggling to form a sentence, slow down or pull back.
I wasn't exercising prior to conception. Is it safe for me to start now?
First, seek your doctor's opinion. If your doctor has given you the okay, start with simple stretches, walking, and bodyweight movements like squats. Focus on strengthening your legs and back. Those muscles will serve you well as baby grows. Check out our Prenatal Fit class, or try out TRX Basics class, where we use props, the wall, and suspension trainers to provide some assistance with bodyweight exercises.
My hips and back are killing me. Is it safe for me to stretch?
Of course! Stretching will help alleviate tension in your muscles. Be careful not to push too far as sometimes stretch reflexes are a bit slow when pregnant. While some self-applied myofascial release may be helpful, if you are already accustomed to rolling, be sure to seek the guidance of an instructor. And again? Talk to your doctor about whether exercise and stretching is appropriate.
I love yoga. Is it safe for me to continue practicing?
If you already have a yoga practice, you are absolutely encouraged to keep it up. Once your doctor has cleared you for exercise, be sure to tell your instructor that you are pregnant. Some modifications you will be offered -- coming to all four instead of downward facing dog, twisting to the 'open' side in certain postures and lunges, using blocks or the wall to prop forward folds up, using bolsters or blankets to prop your hips up, performing reclined poses from a seated or standing position. Be patient with the modifications. As a seasoned practitioner, you may get frustrated with the long list of poses a teacher is telling you to avoid or modify, but it is in the interest of alleviating abdominal pressure or preventing you from inverting. Some time upside down is certainly safe if your body is used to it, but inversions can change an otherwise healthy position for the baby.
My baby is in a breach position. Is it possible to flip him/her around?
Yes, but I do not recommend attempting such a thing without the clearance of a medical doctor and assistance of a skilled doula. My best advice is to get used to standing and being on all four. I tell pregnant students to perform warm-up movements from all four, stretch from all four, roll their hips while on all four. Why? The position is ideal for placing the baby's spine to the front and head toward the cervix. Not to mention the fact it alleviates pelvic floor pressure as baby grows.
If some exercises hurt, is it time to stop exercising?
If something hurts, ask your instructor for guidance on a more comfortable or appropriate option. I like to remind students that if there is ever a time to cultivate a deeper trust in their instincts, it is when they are about to become parents. It's easy to default to others or seek expert opinions. The one that really matters, at the end of the day, is the yours. You have to be comfortable with your choices, even when that choice feels a little more like admitting defeat. If you need the break, take it. If something hurts, stop doing it. If pain persists, consult with your doctor.
Remember that training should be sustainable through all phases of your life. It should be something that life enhancing, bestows energy and ease, balances strengthening and mobilizing exercises that leave you free to move. What it shouldn't be? Punishing. Painful. Something that leaves you so debilitated that you cannot do anything else all week. Worse? You should not suffer an injury that sidelines you for weeks, months, or even years.
Disclaimer: Fit Club is not a medical doctor and the information contained herein should not be taken as medical advice. These are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health problem. Recommendations by Fit Club are not intended to replace the advice of a physician or health professional. Please consult your physician or a health professional before beginning any diet or exercise program.