My mother was a prenatal yoga instructor in the
1980s. As a child I remember quietly watching her teach from the next room. She
led women through gentle stretches, breathing exercises, and relaxation
techniques. It was SUPER GENTLE. There
was no sweating, no grunting, and no muscle burn. While I think a little TLC is
beneficial and necessary for the pregnant body, I am glad times have changed!
Pregnant woman can now exercise at a more vigorous level and it is not only
proven safe, but beneficial for mother and baby. Pregnant women are now encouraged
to continue with moderate cardiovascular and strength exercises throughout
pregnancy. It is a great way to stay strong, manage weight gain, decrease
stress, and grow a smart and healthy baby!
A study conducted last year discovered that woman
who exercised for 20 minutes, three times per week during pregnancy gave birth
to newborns with higher brain activity. Another study in 2011 showed that mothers
who continued regular cardiovascular exercise throughout pregnancy gave birth
to babies with stronger hearts (slower heart rates with more variability). More
and more mothers are deciding to stay active not only for themselves, but for
baby as well.
This winter I had the privilege of working with an exceptional group of women. My
prenatal Mind Body Mama class was full of mamas who were not afraid to break a
sweat. In fact, they were asking for it! We tackled everything from
circuit training to kick boxing to yoga. I never saw a group of pregnant mamas
so committed to staying active. It was inspiring, and a clear sign that times
have changed since my mom's approach to prenatal fitness.
Melissa, one mom in the group, caught my attention as she executed military
push-ups with perfect form… 30 plus weeks into her pregnancy. Melissa is a
prime example of an active woman who is keeping her fitness level in check
safely and effectively throughout her pregnancy. I had to ask her a few
questions about her approach to exercise.
Here is what Melissa had to say:
What was your fitness routine like
pregnancy I worked out 6 days a week, with usually one day of rest or light
cross-training, such as yoga. Most days I would run for 45-60 minutes and
incorporate 10-20 minutes of a light arms and shoulder work out. I also
tried to have 1-2 days a week of high intensity circuit training or a
What your fitness routine like now that
you are pregnant?
am 32 weeks pregnant and I am still running (well, jogging about 2 minutes
slower that my pre-pregnancy pace) 45 minutes 4-5 days a week and doing
10-20 minutes of a light arms and shoulders. I also practice
prenatal yoga once a week and participate in Meghan's fantastic prenatal
fitness class once a week!
Did you have a similar experience
during your first pregnancy?
pregnancy was a lot harder, I wasn't used to carrying the extra weight while
running and I wasn't as strong. Although I was able to keep up running
and working out until the week I delivered, I had to cut my distance and time a
lot earlier in the pregnancy and I struggled with sciatic back
pain. This time around, I spend a good portion of my day
chasing and carrying around a 26lb nearly two-year old -- which has
definitely helped to keep me in overall better shape.
What do you feel are the benefits of
staying active while pregnant?
biggest benefit is how much it improves my mood. If I wake up feeling
tired, nauseous or emotional -- running and working out always leaves
me feeling 100X better and with great energy to keep up with my day
and my toddler son. Additionally, staying active helps manage my weight
gain throughout my pregnancy. I never see unexpected weight
gains at my doctor visits and I manage to stay within the recommended
healthy range. I also found with my first pregnancy, the "baby
weight" came off pretty quickly. I was back to my pre-pregnancy
weight within 4 months.
How do you stay motivated while
dealing with the physical changes happening in your body?
have stayed active during my first pregnancy, I know how much exercise benefits
a woman during labor and delivery. Keeping my legs and core strong
throughout my pregnancy probably played a big role in my relatively quick
delivery of my son (25 minutes!) Whenever I'm feeling lazy or want to
skip a work out I just think of this and power through at least some form of
activity every day. I also don't beat myself up when I have days that I
need to listen to my body and skip a work out or take it extra easy.
Do you have any advice or words of
wisdom for other pregnant women in regards to fitness?
what form of exercise you choose, just find something you enjoy and can
do for at least 30 minutes most days of the week. It's a
wonderful escape from the various emotional and physical pains we feel being
pregnant. And keep reminding yourself -- staying fit can really help lead
to a healthy labor and delivery for both you and your baby!
Great words from an experienced mama! I agree: aim
for 30 minutes of moderate activity most days of the week. If you were NOT
active prior to pregnancy, you may want slowly integrate it into your
lifestyle, or find a trainer with prenatal experience to guide you. Don’t be
afraid to break a little bit of a sweat! And always honor your body when you
need a rest. Happy exercising, mamas!:)