- Women's Health
Staying In Shape During Pregnancy
Let me start off by saying that being pregnant is a truly unique experience. Every pregnancy is different. Some pregnancies are easy, worry free, and uncomplicated. While others are full of complications, difficulties, and challenges. What works for me may not work for you. The advice included in this hub is just that, advice. It may work for you, and it may not. It all depends on your own situation. And, always, check with your OB before starting any exercise program.
Staying in shape during pregnancy can seem like a daunting task, especially as your normal shape is changing, and you start to look as if you swallowed a watermelon. But, staying in shape does not have to be that difficult. It's all about simple things, some of which you already do every day. The key is to keep moving. It may sound enticing to sit on the couch all day, trust me, I know. As my belly has gotten bigger and bigger, it has become more difficult to move around and still be comfortable, but exercise is important for a healthy pregnancy and it makes it easier to loose that baby weight once your bundle of joy is born.
The first bit of advice to staying in shape during pregnancy has to do with diet. Just because everyone makes the comment about "eating for two", doesn't mean you should eat twice as much. Eating for two should be more about eating healthy foods that benefit both you and your baby, instead of eating twice as much food.
Eating healthy can be difficult when you are pregnant, especially in the early months. Morning sickness (total misnomer...more like 3-4 months of almost constant nausea) affects a lot of women during the first few months of pregnancy. This makes it hard to eat anything, let alone anything healthy. There are things you can do to settle your stomach, making it easier to keep food down. Ginger helps, as does chamomile tea. Avoid over the counter medications, unless suggested by your doctor, since most natural remedies are better for you and baby. Crackers can sometimes help, as well. Plain potato chips worked for me. The ruffled ones were my favorite. I got sick of crackers pretty quickly, and needed to find something else that would ease my tummy. I think it has to do with the combination of the starch and the salt.
Make sure you are eating a balanced diet, and taking your prenatal vitamins. The vitamins will help supplement anything your body is lacking, and allows you to eat well balanced meals without overeating. Make sure your diet is complete, meaning plenty of fruits and vegetables and lean protein. Fats will help your baby pack on those needed pounds, but don't over-do it. Realistically, you should only be taking in an extra 300-500 calories a day while pregnant.
You don't need to ignore your cravings, either, though. Every pregnant women gets cravings from time to time. Don't disregard these, but as I said before, don't over-do it, either. Last night I had a craving for cheesecake. I begged my husband to drive out at one in the morning to get me cheesecake. He did(he's awesome!). I could have eaten half the cheesecake in one sitting, but I restrained myself, and only ate one piece. That way, when I get the craving again, there will still be some cheesecake left over, and I won't pack on more weight than I should.
Sticking to a similar diet that you were on before you got pregnant is usually a good idea. Unless you pre-pregnancy diet was all junk food.
Staying in shape during your pregnancy is all dependent on you. I would love to spend all day on the couch, catching up on my ever growing list of movies that I need to watch, but that really isn't good for me. Instead, I find ways to keep myself busy. A lot of it involves housework; sorry, but it's true. It needs to be done, and I'm the only one here to do it. I get tired, and sometimes I go a little overboard, but in the end, it's worth it.
I pick a small task or two to tackle every day. It could be as simple as doing laundry, or cleaning the bathroom, but I make the most of it. The housework needs to get done, and I need to stay busy, and keep myself in shape. I don't have a lot of energy anymore, so more often than not, these tasks are enough to wear me out. I find ways to make the tasks a little more like exercise, by doing things the long way. It may take longer, but I find that, this way, I get more exercise. For example, I will do a lap or two around the house, picking up dirty clothes from each room, carrying the basket with me; or I will break up tasks so I am walking around the house more. I will wash a few dishes, then head to the other side of the house, clean my bathroom sink, then go back and do a few more dishes, then back to the bathroom to clean the shower. It may take longer to get things done, but I end up walking a few miles every day.
Your fitness level all depends on your fitness level before you were pregnant. If you were running marathons, then your body is more adapted to more strenuous exercise. Talk with your doctor about appropriate exercises, and setting appropriate limits for yourself.
There are a lot of options out there for staying in shape while you are pregnant. Walking is one of the best forms of exercise when you are pregnant. Swimming is also a great option. Thankfully, I have access to a pool on a daily basis, and summer in Florida is a great motivator to cool off in the pool. Swimming also takes the pressure off of your body. I get pains in my side from the baby's position, and floating in the pool helps to alleviate some of that. I enjoy walking in the evening, when it isn't so hot outside. That way, I get the exercise without overheating myself. I love going in the pool, because it takes all that pressure from the baby off my back and belly. It is also a really fun way to get some exercise. Sometimes, though, I will just go in the pool and float. I love the feeling of all that weight lifted off my body.
There are a lot of exercise programs for pregnant women. Many health clubs offer pregnant yoga, or other forms of exercise, and give you the opportunity to meet other expecting mothers at the same time. Check with your local gym or health club and see what they have to offer.
Whatever form of exercise you do decide to take on, make sure it is low impact, and that you take it slow. Drink plenty of water as you exercise, and listen to your body. If you feel any pain, take a step back, or maybe even take a break for a few minutes. Trust your body, and know your limits. Just because you could power through an hour long spinning class before the baby belly showed up, doesn't mean that you will still be able to do so now that you can no longer see your toes. And again, be sure to check with your OB before starting any exercise program. You may have other issues that need to be addressed or that would prevent you for participating in an exercise program.
It all comes down to common sense; just like most things. As long as you eat healthy, stay active, and listen to what your body is telling you, you should have no problem staying in shape during your pregnancy. If you have any problems during your pregnancy, or just want to make sure you are doing the right things to stay in shape, be sure to talk to your doctor. Your doctor is your best source of information in regards to your health and the health of your baby.
© 2012 Anna Marie Bowman