How Mothers Can Stay in Shape During and After Pregnancy
At TS Fitness, we’re celebrating the hard work and dedication of our TS Community mothers. Over the years, we’ve had numerous pre-and post-natal clients train with us. Studies show that exercise may prevent gestational diabetes (diabetes that develops during pregnancy), build the stamina needed for labor and delivery, and relieve stress. Both expecting and new mothers have a wide variety of challenges and things to consider when continuing their exercise routine.
Exercising While Pregnant
“All women should incorporate some kind of movement/ exercise during pregnancy unless they’ve been advised by their doctor not to do” said Coach Julia Falamas. “If you are not an exerciser, it is wise to start something that is mild. But pregnancy is not the time to decide you want to get into CrossFit. So stick to what you know.” A pregnant woman’s body is already going through so many changes that this is likely not the best time begin new activities. If you are already active, you should consider sticking to similar types of exercises but scale them back as needed over the course of your pregnancy. Exercising is a great way to avoid gestational diabetes and prepares you to regain your level of fitness post birth. Julia recommends limiting workouts to about 3 to 4 times a week for about 30-60 minutes, depending, of course, on how your body feels. It is vital to listen to your body and as a frequent gym goer you should be familiar with what feels good for you or what is pushing you past your limit.
Julia suggests that pregnant women be cognizant of a few specific changes in their bodies. As you’re training, you need to be aware that your core body temperature can fluctuate, which can lead to overheating. Pregnant women may also experience an elevated heart rate, which may reduce their output during high-intensity exercise. Julia suggests speaking to your trainer about modifying your workout HIIT classes with that in mind.
Additionally, as your pregnancy progresses, your joints and ligaments become more pliable and elastic as your body prepares to give birth. Though you may be more mobile, you are at a greater risk of injury if you do not maintain your muscle strength. It is important to incorporate exercises that improve your core and supporting muscles. Julia recommends squats with lighter loads to help develop the pelvic floor, lower back, and hip muscles which will be relied upon during labor.
Julia believes that upper body training is often neglected in expecting mothers. “There is an innate need for women to build upper body strength to deal with the impending need to physically carry a child,” said Julia. A few of our favorite upper body (partial core) exercises are farmer’s and rack carries to build the stamina. These carries will help when you eventually hold your baby. Rows and pull-ups are great exercises to counteract the postural downside of having to carry a baby in your arms, too!
It is also important to understand your limitations and abstain from movements that can hurt your baby and yourself. During your second and third trimester, make sure you avoid movements that put you on your back as your growing uterus has the potential to put pressure on the main vein circulating blood back from the lower body. But there are easy modifications to keep you training-- for example, try doing an inclined bench pressure versus a traditional bench press movement. Julia also recommends avoiding rotational movements like Russian twists and bouncing exercises like jumping jacks.
Post-Natal Working Out
After birth, don’t expect to rebound right back into your old routines. “Treat your body as if it had recently gone through a major injury,” said Julia. Fortunately though, if you were staying active during your pregnancy, you should have an easier time getting back into the swing of things. If you have a cesarean section, be patient and don’t get frustrated as your recovery may take longer than if you had a natural birth. A pregnant mother will experience separation in the abdominal wall so Julia suggests practicing diaphragmatic breathing and exercises like the “dead bug” after birth to help repair the deep muscles of the abs.
Eating Right To Fuel Your Workouts
Proper nutrition is extremely important for an expecting mother. Lisa Jubilee, certified dietitian, and nutritionist as well as co-founder of Living Proof, advises that pregnant women focus on getting the right amount of micro-nutrients, in their diet, which is those invaluable vitamins, and minerals our bodies can't function without. “A good rule of thumb is to have your plate at least 3/4 vegetables,” said Lisa. Though many believe that starchy carbs are a great source of energy for exercise, Lisa recommends fueling with foods that provide both energy and nutrient density. “Try fruit, nuts, or a green juice before a workout as opposed to a processed, starchy snack like pretzels,” said Lisa. She also recommends incorporating good, healthy fat in your diet, like avocado toast, since fat will sustain you longer than any form of refined carbohydrate or sugar. Along with exercise, eating right will lower the risk of gestational diabetes. Both Julia and Lisa stress the importance of staying hydrated during and after your pregnancy. Dehydration can leave you feeling fatigued while working out.
Breastfeeding mothers will also face a revved-up metabolism so Lisa recommends carrying healthy snacks around and amending your diet around how you feel each day.
TS Coaches Are Here for You
Erica, a long-term client of TS, trained with us twice a week with us during her second pregnancy. After her first child, she made some changes to her routine. “Before I was just focused on cardio, but for my second, I focused on weight training,” said Erica. Erica stuck to GPT sessions about twice a week at TS.
Erica really noticed the results of weight training after she gave birth. “I bounced back so much faster than during my first pregnancy. I returned to the gym about six weeks later. Ramping up was challenging but not as hard as it was after my first baby. I also gained less weight than during my previous pregnancy and had fewer aches and pains,” said Erica.
Aside from the physical benefits, Erica found that it helped emotionally. “Mentally it was great to keep doing something I normally do. It was great to be part of a community that had trustworthy trainers with the proper pre/postnatal certifications,” said Erica. “Noam and the trainers were great and made sure that each of the exercises that I was doing was safe for me.
Our team of trainers is available to help you workout before, during, and after your pregnancy. We have the certifications and experience to help you maintain your fitness goals but we always recommend that you consult your doctor and dietician for the best advice for your specific situation.