I'm a firm believer in being active throughout life to promote good health, reduce stress, and feel good, but I definitely got an extra push from my midwife to exercise regularly throughout my second pregnancy. In my first pregnancy, I tried to stay active, did some prenatal yoga, and took light hikes with my husband, Doug. I think being active made a big difference in my overall health and attitude while I carried Everest. When we found out we were expecting our second, Doug and I were already going to the gym regularly and I decided that I wanted to keep up the routine (we were far from peak physical condition but trying to keep a healthy lifestyle). At the appointment to confirm my pregnancy, the ob/gyn said how valuable he thought exercise is during pregnancy and said that pretty much all exercise is okay, particularly during the first trimester, aside from activities with a high risk of falling, like horseback riding and rock climbing.
With my doctor's approval, I continued to perform all of the activities I was doing prior to finding out I was pregnant. This meant finishing my semester of ballet, walking, using the elliptical and stationary bikes, using free weights and weight machines with moderate resistance, yoga, and lots of ab work. I knew flat-back exercises like sit-ups would be off limits later in pregnancy, so I used this time to build up my core strength.
Once I hit the second trimester, my workouts shifted to three basic activities: walking, light free weight exercises, and yoga. Walking has been my main source of exercise, and I aim for 45-90 minutes 5-7 times a week. It usually averages out to about an hour a day. I have continued this routine throughout the third trimester and have to say that I feel amazing! I believe that my exercise routine has contributed significantly to the fact that I gained toward the lower end of the recommended weight gain, I have high energy levels, and have experienced few aches and pains. And, who knows, exercise during pregnancy may even offer other benefits to the baby, such as a boost in brain development.
If you have already have a child, getting them involved in your fitness routine can help keep you both happy. We're lucky that Everest loves the childcare at the gym and dropping him off has always been easy. He looks forward to going to "exercise" and even requests that we go sometimes. I also love that I can see him playing in the childcare room from the indoor track where I walk—and he really does get his exercise running laps around a table with a toy car! On the weekends, we like to take a trip to one of our favorite local parks for some light hiking. It's always a fun time getting outside with the family for some fresh air and beautiful scenery while getting your steps in.
I had two "secret weapons" that helped keep me on track with my fitness routine throughout my pregnancy. One was the FitBit my dad got me for Christmas this year. I'm not a gadget person, so I was very skeptical at first, but I soon found myself trying to one-up my daily step tallies and setting regular goals for myself. The other item I found I couldn't do without was my belly supporter. I actually purchased it during my pregnancy with Everest to help deal with back pain while working on my feet, but have found it to be even more essential with this pregnancy. Since about 35 weeks or so, I have been experiencing searing pain at my c-section incision site as the scar tissue stretches from the weight of the baby. The pain is especially severe when I am standing and walking around for long periods of time. The supporter helps take some of the weight off of my lower abdomen and relieve the pain so that I can move around comfortably. It has been an absolute lifesaver and one of my third trimester must-haves, especially since being able to exercise pain-free was important to me.
As always, consult with your physician before beginning any sort of exercise routine. What have you done to stay fit and healthy during pregnancy?
Jenna is a writer, educator, wife, and mama living in Colorado with her husband and two children. She founded American Ingenue as a personal blog in 2008 after losing her mother to breast cancer, using the forum as a reminder to live life to the fullest. Jenna loves cooking, dreaming, and adventuring with her family. She has been inspired to share her experiences with others as she navigates this crazy life and strives to have "it all."