Exercise During Pregnancy

“Babies like blood.”

That’s one of the things my new doctor had to say to me at our very first meeting, 13 weeks along with my fourth baby.  There are only a few things expectant moms can (or need to!) physically do to support the growth and health of the tiniest of babies.

  1. Eat real food as much as possible, maintaining pregnancy weight as best you can.
  2. Take the recommended supplements.
  3. Drink lots (and lots!) of water.
  4. Exercise. Get the blood flowing!

I’m no exercise expert.  Don’t know if I could run a mile if my life depended on it. I do know with relative certainty, though, that pregnant mamas who exercise regularly

  • have fewer complaints during pregnancy
  • are better prepared for the strenuous job of birthing the baby (Labor is hard work, people!)
  • enjoy an easier postpartum recovery
  • lose the baby weight quicker

All those benefits, plus babies like blood.  That’s how they are nourished in the womb!  Why would we not want to at least try to get some exercise during pregnancy?

Speaking from my own personal experience, I’ve exercised throughout all of my pregnancies, but especially during my second.  No particular reason other than we were in a location near a Curves, and I took full advantage of my membership.  Worth every penny!

After baby?  I was right back to exercising at 3 weeks.  (Yes, I took it easy!)  He was healthy, I was healthy, and I know in my heart of hearts that the baby blues that tried to steal my joy for a few days were thwarted quickly, in part because I had been and continued to take good care of myself.  Exercise for pregnant mamas has to be a priority if it’s going to happen, especially when there are other little people in the house.

Now, may I tell you a secret? I was a little afraid of exercise in the first trimester with this baby.  So strange for me, with my history.  My head knows that exercise doesn’t cause miscarriage. My head knows that I feel better when I get off my lazy rump and move around.  My head knows that babies like blood.  But I was still a bit of a chicken.

Or, maybe scared was just an excuse to nurse every growing ping and pang that comes with bearing my fourth baby at age 35.  Oh, and maybe it was really my own way to rebel against movement in the dead of winter, choosing instead to cocoon up for a few weeks.  And… well, I might have been feeling a little overwhelmed and icky and some of the other whatnot that the first trimester tends to bring.

Excuses, excuses!

Now that I’m well-past the excuses, here are a few ideas for exercising during pregnancy.

  1. Family walks/bike rides. (They ride, I walk.)
  2. Tons of different pregnancy workout videos (I don’t happen to know of any to recommend… do you?)
  3. Prenatal yoga. (Another thing I’ve never tried, but it sounds great!)
  4. Early morning walk. Just me. This is one of my favorites, because it gets all the kinks out and gets me ready for the day.  I don’t run, but I can walk forever.
  5. Swimming. Three of my babies have been born in the summer:  July, August, and now September.  The swimming pool is a life saver!  One dip in the water and the baby lifts right off of my achy hips.  Immediate relief!
  6. Chasing the children around (and up and down) the playground.

Basically, any type of exercise (safety first!) that you enjoyed before pregnancy, you should be able to enjoy during. I’m a bit clumsy, so you won’t find me on a bike for 9 months.  You won’t find me running, either, but not because it’s not safe… simply because I don’t like to run. ;)

If you have no health concerns, if your doctor says it’s okay, then by all means… get to moving!  Babies like blood!

What are your favorite ways to exercise during pregnancy?  I might need some ideas for the next three months!

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Comments

  1. I walk in the mornings pushing a double stroller while my older 3 kids swim. Then I try to also swim 3 days a week or so. Sometimes I even sneak in a second walk while my older kids have their afternoon dryland exercise at a local health club.

  2. I’ve never liked exercising, but when I was pregnant with #2 I sure had plenty of opportunities to keep my heart pumping! Chasing #1 around the park and at all of our Mommy & Me functions, I got quite a work-out most days. I really felt a lot better that pregnancy than I did with #1. I slept harder at night and had a better outlook in general. I can only imagine how it’ll be when I’ve got #3 in the oven!

  3. Rebecca says:

    I LOVED prenatal yoga this pregnancy. I didn’t try it with my first (but I wish I had heard of it!). It helped me breathe easier and feel better. And let me tell you, the kid came out more than 30% heavier. I guess he liked it too.

  4. I have done Pilates with all 3 of my pregnancies, including my currant one. I love that it makes me more flexible and helps me thinking about and improve my breathing/lung capacity. I got a great DVD off Amazon that is great. It is challenging but I have done it with 3 babies and am not bored with it yet.
    http://www.amazon.com/Pilates-During-Pregnancy-Vol-1/dp/B000AXW0WS/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1276660367&sr=1-3

  5. I’m in the first several weeks of pregnancy (6ish weeks), so I haven’t seen my doctor yet for my first prenatal visit. However, we’re friends with him and attend the same church, so when I shared our big news with him, I asked his advice on exercise. I did not exercise much with my first because I had hyperemesis all throughout pregnancy and struggled to gain weight (it’s the only time in my life I’ve ever had THAT problem!). So working out while pregnant is a new concept for me.

    My doctor said that you can continue any exercise you’ve been doing for the past few months. Your body is used to the light weights you’re lifting at the gym and the huffing and puffing on the treadmill, so it’s fine to continue doing it. As you get larger, your body will tell you what you shouldn’t do, but for now, it’s fine to continue your workout routine. He did say that bull riding would probably be a bad idea while pregnant.

    I think this explains why pregnant moms are perfectly comfortable picking up their toddlers, even though typical medical advice is not to lift anything over 15 pounds.

    • @Gabrielle, No bull-riding? Oh, whatever shall we pregnant ladies do??? ;-)

      I really enjoy taking late-night walks with my husband, when we can pull it off. Sometimes he sets a pace that leaves me huffing and puffing (he kind of forgets the whole belly factor), so I KNOW I’m getting a workout!

  6. This is a fun and healthy insight to earn about. It’s good to know the right way to exercise for pregnant women!

  7. Michelle says:

    Thanks for this post. I am 15 weeks pregnant and running. My doctor said it’s completely fine to keep running and I don’t push too hard or for more than 30 min but I am amazed at the crazy stuff people have told me to try and get me to stop. I’ve been told it could cause miscarriage and birth defects and I want shake them and tell them to quit being fear mongers. I think my doctor would have told me those risks when I asked on both occasions.

  8. I have exercised my way through three pregnancies and it always made me feel better and MORE energized! Because of my history with premature labor, I DID have strict lifting restrictions with #3, but that didn’t stop me from walking 3 miles a day. Being one of *those* ladies who struggles to gain weight, my doctor advised me to up my calorie intake since I was walking a fair bit and that was a bit of a struggle…but I found babyfit.sparkpeople.com to be super helpful for tracking my food intake. Unless you’re on medically advised bed-rest, I’m convinced exercising during pregnancy is the only way to go! So many studies show that women who are in good shape tend to have more efficient labors and are less likely to wind up having a c-section. (Please know I am NOT saying that having had a c-section means you were in bad shape… I’ve had two of them. I would never imply that!) But I say… bring on the walking shoes!

  9. I have enjoyed prenatal yoga – I haven’t exercised consistently sadly, but the yoga helps me relax, stretch and focus. Always makes my joints and back feel better – plus there are positions geared to help prepare you for labor, being pregnant with my first child these exercises make me feel better prepared.

    The bulk of my ‘exercise’ is simply walking around and attempting everyday, basic cleaning!

  10. Amy-
    Thank you so much for sharing this with us!
    I was a bit of a chicken and a bit of a lazy, constantly nauseated mama with my 1st pregnancy– I will NOT make that mistake again!

    I am convinced things would have been much better all around had I been more conscious of the need to exercise.
    Praise God, she is a healthy little one-year old now but I will certainly do things differently next time around!

    • I was told once that babies naturally “absorb all the good” from mama’s body, and are generally well protected and nourished. And baby definitely comes first… but I want to feel good too! (hence the diet and exercise)

  11. Serenity says:

    Thank you so much for posting this! I have been a pre/postnatal fitness instructor for almost four years and it is truly unbelievable what women believe they “can’t” do because they’re pregnant! Continuing whatever activities they were doing before getting pregnant is sooo good for moms and babies. It’s even safe to start a mild exercise routine if you were previously sedentary when you get pregnant. This is the only time in your life where your health directly impacts the health of your child. It’s so important to be as healthy as you can be while pregnant!

    *stepping off soapbox now* :)

    • @Serenity, Thank you so much, Serenity, for mentioning that even women accustomed to a sedentary lifestyle can benefit from some movement and exercise. This is such a good point! It is so beneficial for both mom and baby… I always feel so accountable for the choices I make while I’m expecting and this is one area where I know what I need to do to help that sweet growing life! I don’t think your comment was “soapbox”-y at all. Just accurate! :)

    • Thank you for chiming in! I’m a “soapbox” writer at times; your comments are welcome here! ;)

  12. I know two exercise physiologists who are expecting and at 8 months pregnant they are still running, riding bikes and lifting at relatively intense levels! What an inspiration to everyone who thinks they can’t exercise (pregnant or not!) Labor is the hardest thing a woman will do in her life, it seems natural that one would like to be in excellent physical condition! Thanks for sharing this!

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