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Getting motivated to exercise while pregnant can be a challenge in itself.
In between nausea, heartburn, back pain and swollen feet, it’s really no wonder why so many of us moms lose sight of the end goal:
Getting in shape to greet our babies in the best form we possibly can be.
Still, if you’re wondering what and what not to do, and how to go about it – this post is for you.
Keep reading cause you got this!
1) Your motivation
No matter what stage you’re at in your pregnancy, it will save your sanity to remember why you’re getting your behind moving.
I find that when I want to get motivated for something in particular, I cannot succeed unless I can see, taste and hear the end goal in sight.
Okay, I was exaggerating a little but you get the point.
Start with getting a notebook out or a piece of paper and write down your motivations to getting and staying fit.
Is it to prepare yourself the best you can for a drug-free labour?
Is it to have a quicker postpartum recovery?
Or is it because you want to have enough energy for baby?
You don’t have to tell me – pick your reason, or make your own and stick it somewhere you will see it.
When we’re given visual reminders of our goals, it makes it so much easier to complete them.
Perhaps you’re not at your ideal weight or where you’d like to be – did you know even if you’re overweight you can still lose some pounds safely during pregnancy?
One of the best teachers I’ve come across is Michelle Marie. She has the the Better Body After Pregnancy program, but also other tricks and secrets you can apply starting from now including a Free 2 week workout and diet challenge.
2) Bite-size chunks
If you’re dreading even starting, the best way to get get it done and out the way is to break it down.
Give yourself a timetable, that fits in with your end goal and goes with your weekly schedule.
A good start to building a routine I find is to do 15/20 minute chunks – even better if you can find a Youtube workout that you get inspired by!
The more you learn to enjoy it, the easier it will become.
You don’t have to exercise daily, as 2-3 times a week is enough, though do keep up walking.
3) Stay hydrated
I know this is a general rule whilst pregnant (and while not) but this is super duper important when you exercise.
That’s because you lose a lot of electrolytes during pregnancy – from the sweat and constant need to pee, so make sure you get in your daily intake of water.
One of the biggest struggles I have with drinking water is that it can become tiring and tasteless when it’s basically all you drink.
Worry not – there’s always a solution! I love to try out flavoured waters that you can infuse yourself.
To do so, you need to start off with a good water dispenser. I like this huge glass one that you just need to turn the tap to pour yourself a glass.
Now chop up your favourite fruit or spices, add some ice and away you go! If you’re stuck for ideas, check out this post to get you started.
Another great tactic is to always have a water bottle on the go – times have changed since I was a young runner, and you can now get water bottles in all sorts of shapes and forms.
Now you can get a hydration belt if you’re outdoors. Unfortunately I bought my oval shaped one with a handle years ago and I can’t find a similar model.
If you’re looking for a non-plastic and more eco-friendly choice, I highly recommend this one. The reviews are so good, I’ve ordered one myself in the process – so I’ll let you know!
4) Don’t sweat it (but do sweat!)
What I mean here is don’t put a whole load of pressure on yourself and get strict with your routine.
Seriously, the last thing you need is another nagging voice in your head making exercise a part of your to-do list!
DO have your goals clear like I said in my first point, but don’t be disappointed if you can’t always meet them.
I can’t stress enough the importance of being gentle with yourself. So simple yet so challenging when we’re surrounded by so much pressure to be perfect.
Remember that your pregnancy – even if it feels like a lifetime right now – will soon be over and you’ll be able to exercise as before (after postpartum).
5) Mix it up
The best thing you can do during any form of exercise is to mix it up.
Changing positions and exercises as you go allows time for the muscles you were working to recover.
Another advantage is that it gives you time to regain your breath, which is particularly important while pregnant.
Plus, by mixing it up, you won’t get bored.
So, the best form of ‘mixed up’ exercise is by far circuit training – but many women wonder whether they can still do this with a growing baby bump.
As we’ve mentioned before, if you’ve done circuit training before pregnancy, it’s perfectly okay to continue – and you may start lightly during your first trimester if not.
Of course, consult your doctor before trying anything – but remember to listen to yourself too.
Circuit training is not the only workout to alternate exercises either – Pilates is another great example of this. And Pilates, by the way, is oh so great for your pelvic floor.
6) Stretch it out
My final and favourite tip is to have a good stretch after working out. It doesn’t have to be a massively long yoga session, just enough to leave you feeling relief after activating those muscles.
Stretching after exercising is super important to preventing injury and we don’t want something else to add to our list of pregnancy symptoms do we?!
Of course, if you were already into stretching and yoga before pregnancy, you will have to adapt as you go along.
Here are some do’s and don’ts when it comes to pregnancy stretching:
- Do stretch lightly, breathing into every stretch
- Don’t deep stretch – that is to say, push your muscles further than normal
- Do stretch regularly to keep your body from becoming stiff
- Don’t compare yourself to others – it’s about how you feel
As always, there are prenatal yoga workouts on YouTube – but if there is a class near you, I highly recommend you join one. You get to socialize and make new mama friends too!
Stretching in bed
Bonus – you don’t have to have a yoga mat if you don’t want. Stretching in bed works well for those of you out there (my hand is going up too!) who procrastinate and save it for later.
Just a wind down stretch before you go to sleep is all you need to give your muscles a gentle massage before tackling the next day.
Of course, you’re free to stretch in bed before the day starts too – sometimes I feel it really sets my day if I can squeeze in a morning yoga session.
7) Listen to your body
I’m about to be honest – this is probably the most important point about pregnancy exercise yet I’ve somehow left it til last. Silly me!
Of course you should start out with consulting your midwife or doctor before starting any regime. Do be prepared though – especially if you’re doing home workouts – to trust your own intuition.
For example, I remember that during my fifth month of pregnancy I put a home HIIT workout on.
I soon discovered that it was a mistake once I felt more out of breath than normal, with the need to sit down.
Ideally, you shouldn’t wait til that point to realise that it’s too difficult and stop.
Some signs you need to be wary of while working out:
- Make sure that you can still talk throughout – you shouldn’t be too out of breath for this
- Sip on water throughout or have a small glass of water before starting your workout
- If you ever feel dizzy or faint while exercising, this is a sign you need to slow down or stop altogether (depending on the intensity)
To round up
One thing I want to mention about exercise before we round it up, is something called muscle memory.
Yes – your muscles have the ability to remember what actions you made them do! Crazy!
So, take time to learn the movements well and avoid any mistakes in the beginning to make sure your muscles don’t fall into bad habits.
For example, you want to avoid surpassing your knees over your ankles, bending over with a bent spine and lifting weights too heavy for you.
I hope these tips will help you – these are some of the practices I used when I was staying fit throughout my pregnancy.
Remember why you’re doing it and stick to it! I have faith that with a little push, you’re more than capable.