If you are expecting you might be wondering how you should be exercising with your new body. The American Pregnancy Association recommends exercising 30 minutes on most days. If you are having a pregnancy without complications your doctor might not provide much guidance on how to exercise or what exercise is appropriate for you. As a certified Pre/Postnatal Pilates Instructor who had Gestational Diabetes during pregnancy I have several tips on prenatal exercise. If you are having any pregnancy complications, it is wise to discuss your exercise routine with your doctor.
1. Find the appropriate exercise for your body right now. Your body changes every day you are pregnant and then some after you give birth. You might be able to continue your regular running routine the first trimester but if you feel like it’s getting more difficult and painful to continue please listen to your body and slow down. If you regularly do Pilates or Yoga and you are starting to feel like the odd lady out in class try a Prenatal Pilates or Yoga class. These classes are programmed for your needs and it’s nice to make friends with other expecting students.
2. Set a workout goal each week. If you are currently not active try a goal of once or twice a week of 30 minutes of light exercise (like walking). If you are currently active try to keep your workout schedule. Do you currently workout every Tues and Thurs night after work? Keep doing something at that time. You already have that time carved out for yourself - keep it up!
3. Find a workout buddy for accountability. Have a friend or co-worker who’s also expecting? Workout together and keep each other on track of your workout goals.
4. Drink enough water throughout the day and during your workout. Remember to stay hydrated and don’t be shy about taking a bathroom break during class.
5. Eat a small light snack 1 to 2 hours before exercise. Hunger is distracting during exercise. Avoid heartburn inducing foods like tomatoes or spicy food.
6. Balance your workout routine. Have a rock solid running routine? Balance that with pilates or yoga. Only doing yoga right now? Add a mile or two of walking into your weekly goal.
7. If something doesn’t feel good or hurts - stop! There’s no need for the “No Pain, No Gain” mentality. Exercise should feel good!
8. Avoid ab curls/sit ups after the 1st trimester. This can cause an increase in a chance of developing Diastasis Recti (separation of the 6 pack muscles).
9. Walking is exercise. When I had Gestational Diabetes, walking 15 to 20 minutes after a meal helped me control my blood sugar numbers. Walking is also good for strengthening legs and increasing endurance. You are going to need it during labor!
10. If you don’t feel good, skip the workout. Listen to your body! Maybe it needs rest more than exercise. Never exercise through nausea, headaches, bleeding or dizziness.
Katrina Tan, Certified Prenatal & Postnatal Pilates Instructor
Katrina has been teaching Pilates since 2013. She currently teaches Prenatal & Postnatal Pilates in Austin, TX. The birth of her daughter sparked her passion to teach Prenatal and Postnatal Pilates. She teaches with respect to the ever changing body of a mother. Katrina teaches group classes and private sessions.