Get moving, kick up your feet, sweat and glow. Having an active pregnancy is a great way to have a healthy pregnancy. Now, if you are anything like me, you do not glow when you are in the middle of exercising. I actually tend to resemble a sweaty tomato during a work out; the glow comes later after I shower and always feels wonderful. I often have to remind myself of that great feeling in order to get started. Pregnancy is a perfect time to embrace good self care and is often a time of increased well being and desire to live a healthy lifestyle. There is no better motivator than that little baby growing in your womb. As a midwife, counseling on exercise is something that I do a lot! It is the other side of the nutrition coin as both are important for a healthy pregnancy.
Generally, I recommend to stay active and move on a regular basis. Make yourself work up a nice sweat a few times a week. This is not about becoming an athlete or pushing yourself too hard. If you were previously active, you should keep doing all the activities that you enjoy. If you are already a runner, keep running. Do you enjoy cycling? If so, keep enjoying it.
One important consideration is to be mindful when participating in high impact activities. Our pregnant bodies release a hormone called relaxin which among many things helps to loosen our pelvis to accommodate the growing baby and prepare for birth. However, this helpful hormone not only works on our reproductive system, but can also lead to looser joints in general. For this reason, it is wise to use caution when enjoying those higher impact activities. I do not recommend abstaining if these are things you already enjoy, just to be mindful and practice excellent body mechanics.
Here are some of my favorite exercise recommendations:
1. Walking and Hiking: 2 miles at a brisk pace 5 times per week. This can be done inside on a treadmill if the weather is poor or outside. If you are able to walk outside, this is a great way to get fresh air and vitamin D exposure from the sun.
2. Swimming: lap swimming for 30 minutes and/or an Aqua Aerobics class. In the third trimester, swimming is one of my favorite pregnancy exercises; you get to beat gravity for a while, it is good cardiovascular activity and helps to decrease swelling in your legs and feet.
3. Prenatal Yoga: you can do this yourself at home or find a local studio. Going to a class can be a great way to meet other pregnant people and build community.
4. Running: if you are already a runner please continue to so do as long as it is comfortable, but this is not the time to try and beat your personal best.
5. Cycling: like running, if you already enjoy this activity please continue to do so. However, towards the end of the pregnancy it may become more difficult as your growing belly can get in the way.
6. Dancing: this can be a fabulous way to get your body moving and help to keep those hips loose and flexible. Belly dancing in particular can be a fantastic labor prep activity.
Please remember that whenever you are active, increase your water intake. My recommendation for water intake during pregnancy is 3-4 liters per day as a baseline. When you are active, this will need to be increased. Balance is key, so just as it is important to remain active, it is important to rest. Take time as often as possible to sit down and relax, enjoy a cup of tea and talk with your baby.
What are some of your favorite ways to stay active during pregnancy?
Aubre Tompkins is a Certified Nurse Midwife and the Clinical Director of Mountain Midwifery Center in Englewood, CO. She is a passionate supporter and defender of Physiologic Birth, ensuring choice for families and providing care to families in all the shapes and sizes that they come. She is also committed to growing the profession of midwifery both locally and abroad; this passion is fulfilled as both a preceptor to student midwives and as a Board member of Midwife International. On a personal note, Aubre has a fantastic husband and three precocious children that keep her busy at home.
You can also learn more about her birth center atwww.mountainmidwifery.com.