My Favorite Workouts for A Healthy Pregnancy
Updated: Oct 18, 2021
I am writing this post after I just allowed myself to take several days of rest and a break from my workouts. I am currently 27 weeks... crazy! As I approach the third trimester, I wanted to discuss the balance between staying active and giving your body rest during every stage of pregnancy. Remember mamas, this is a BALANCE... and a struggle for me! Sometimes I put exercise and physical activity on my plate as if it's a weight on my shoulder. If I don't get it done that day I often make myself feel like a failure, or allow myself to feel shame. This is something I battle, and I wanted to share it with you because maybe some of you out there experience the same struggle. While growing a human inside our bodies, we need to keep our bodies healthy, nourished, and active, AS WELL AS rested and calm. I want you to take the pressure off of yourself. Take your pregnancy one day at a time. Some days I wake up feeling great, I give myself time and space to do a workout, a walk, a bike ride, yoga class, meditation, journaling, whatever feeds my soul that day. Other days I feel overwhelmed, behind, and don't take that space. Or I feel like I can't do everything and must prioritize something all consuming we have going on as a family. And some days, I just don't feel well and need to listen to my body telling me to REST. So that has been where I'm at lately. This pregnancy has been unique in which I have experience more illness. After having COVID during the first trimester, it took my body a while to fully recover and feel "well" again. I kept experiencing mild sicknesses, colds, fevers, etc. that just persisted. My health and wellness journey during this pregnancy has been more of a challenge than I'm used to. I also was practicing heated yoga and barre classes in a studio on a regular basis prior to my first trimester, and due to COVID and the stress surrounding that I decided to shift my yoga practice into a home practice, which brings about new challenges! So... all of that being said, physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness during pregnancy is a journey. So allow yourself to be on whatever stage of that journey you are on in any given day. Allow yourself to take the space to do a workout, take a walk, meditate, or just rest. Really listen to your body, and tune into that inner voice that is asking for what it needs. Allow yourself to be...
So let's focus on the importance of physical health during this amazing time in our lives. These are my favorite types of exercise that can be accessible to everyone during all stages of pregnancy. All of these forms of exercise are great ways to take care of our bodies and our babies during pregnancy.
My favorite type of exercise lately is yoga, because it benefits my body, mind, spirit, and overall health. I really feel like yoga nourishes my body from the inside out, and doing a consistent yoga practice of any kind or any amount of time helps me to feel like my best self. If you have never done yoga before, there are many accessible yoga videos and books out there for all stages of your yoga practice. My favorite prenatal yoga routines will be shared with y'all soon! A simple yoga flow in the morning when I wake and at night before bed (yep I literally do yoga IN my bed, it's a great way to wind down and recenter my body from the day)... soon I will share my nighttime flow with you! Yoga can be very simple, but it includes breath work. This is one of the reasons why I love it for pregnant mamas. Training our bodies and brains to use this breath work (in yoga we call this Pranayama) on a regular basis helps it to be more accessible during labor and birth. One of the ways to prepare our bodies for birth is to practice relaxing and healing breath work that can literally calm our entire bodies during even the most stressful situations. Regular yoga practice helps this so much. And the best part of a prenatal yoga practice is that our babies benefit from it! Every time you slow your breath, calm your body, and focus on nourishing body work our babies also feel the calming effects. Our babies listen to our heartbeats, our breath, and are soothed by the slowing rhythm of our breathing. It slows their heart rates, calms their stress, helps them to feel the positive hormones we feel as our bodies release tension. It also allows you time to connect with your baby, to focus inward, to listen to your inner voice and even your baby's inner voice. If you can't tell, I love yoga! If you've never done yoga, reach out to me! I would love to connect with you and send you my favorite flows!
This may seem self explanatory, but walking is a great way to prep your body for a healthy labor and childbirth. Walking helps to strengthen all of the muscles surrounding our pelvis. It helps your pelvis maintain optimal alignment for birth, keeps our legs moving, prevents things that pregnant women can be susceptible to (blood clots, high blood pressure, back and hip pain, etc). It elevates your heart rate in a healthy way (a good power walk can really do wonders for our bodies and babies!), and gets us outside which is good for our body, mind, and soul (and gets us a little Vitamin D which we all desperately need for optimum immune function). I really try to do a walk every single day (depending on weather) at the very least from the third trimester on. But I try to walk all the way through my pregnancy. It even helps our bodies to start a healthy labor pattern when it's time (more on that later!), so overall walking is really really great for our pregnant bodies and provides more health benefits than we often realize!
If you have access to water, than I highly recommend using it! Not only does swimming help improve and strengthen cardiovascular health (which is so important during pregnancy), but it nourishes muscles and joints at the same time. During pregnancy, a hormone that is released in higher quantities in our bodies is "relaxin", which truly loosens and relaxes our joints (especially around the pelvis) so that our bodies can prepare for birth. Swimming helps protect us from injuries that can occur during pregnancy because of that extra relaxin. It's also relaxing, our babies and bodies benefit from the break from gravity while in the water, and it can really clear your mind and bring you peace and calm.
Our doctors often advise against bike riding outdoors during pregnancy due to the risk of falls and trauma to baby. So I have found that a great alternative is the stationary bike if you have access to one! I love the cardiovascular benefits of riding the bike, and it feels better on my pregnant muscles and joints than running does. It's a great way to raise our heart rates, get a good sweat, and even do some gentle healthy interval training! Often I keep my rides short (because #momlife), and just do 20 or 30 minute rides in the morning before I shower! It's a great and safe way to keep our bodies moving and our hearts training for labor and birth.
GENTLE WEIGHT TRAINING
I say the word "gentle" because pregnancy is just NOT the time to try a new workout, push your body to new weight challenges, or max out in any capacity during a workout. If you have been doing vigorous weight training before pregnancy, that's great! Just allow yourself to listen to that inner voice, be mindful or your weights, and take modifications when needed. Slowing down and allowing yourself space to modify is STRONG and BEAUTIFUL... do not forget that... Our pregnant bodies are amazing. They should be celebrated, nourished, comforted, and cherished. Weight training during pregnancy is a great way to strengthen and stabilize your muscles that can often be weakened due to all of that extra relaxin in our bodies. I tend to focus on gluts and quads (squats are amazing at prepping our bodies for birth - do ALLLL the squats!), and upper body that allows me to strengthen and release the muscles in my neck and shoulders. Just listen to your body and what it needs on any given day.
I hope you find this helpful in giving you ideas for ways to keep your body active and well during pregnancy. Prenatal fitness does not have to be complex. It doesn't even have to be intense. The last thing we want to do during pregnancy is max out in a workout. Your body is constantly diverting so much energy into growing a human, and we can't push ourselves to maximum physical exertion like we can when we are not pregnant. I challenge you to just listen to your inner voice. You have an inner knowing that has you and your baby's best interest at heart. Allow yourself to listen to that voice. Even if it isn't what culture tells you, or what social media is showing you... Pregnancy is a time to turn inward. Your body is amazing. There is no pressure, just a daily following of your intuition. Release the shame you feel when you are having a day in which your body is craving rest. Release the weight you put on your shoulders of how your pregnancy workouts should look, or feel. Let every day feel different. Nourish your body, mind, and spirit with these accessible workouts when you feel like it's right for you. Remember you are stronger than you think, mama, even when you are resting.
SO much love to you mamas,