I will say the absolute best thing I did during my pregnancy was work with a personal trainer. The investment in both my body and my baby was huge. I was working out before I knew I was pregnant and continued all the way until my due date. Of course, you should always consult your doctor to make sure that working out is safe for you — and I would strongly recommend working with someone who specializes in prenatal fitness.
How did working out help?
- I was not as tired throughout pregnancy and also not as uncomfortable. For the most part I was just as active during pregnancy as I was before. I was also able to control the amount of weight I put on.
- Getting that baby out! Days before I gave birth I was in the gym doing squats and lunges and all kinds of cardio to encourage Aiden to come out — and he did, just 2 days after his due date (I started labor the day after his due date).
- Pain — When the contractions started they were really manageable. I attribute that to a strong core and overall good fitness. In fact, in hindsight, I really don’t think I needed the epidural. I only got it because I went into the hospital late on Saturday night and knew I needed to get some sleep. Unfortunately, that really backfired because I ended up on oxygen and didn’t sleep anyway.
- When I got the epidural, Aiden’s heart rate dropped. The nurses had me doing bridge and then flipping over to my hands and knees. All this while I could barely feel my legs. I don’t think this would have been as easy if I didn’t have really strong leg and core muscles.
- Pushing — This was one of the bigger benefits. When it came time to push, I had no issues pushing hard enough. In fact I was pushing so hard I was moving the nurse and my husband who had my feet.
- Impress your nurses — My nurse kept commenting about how strong and agile I was. It made all that working out worth it!
- Healthy baby — When Aiden came out he was super alert and very lean. After just a couple of days he was breaking out of his swaddled and had great head control. When you work out during pregnancy your baby will benefit just as much as you!
- Recovery — I needed up with a C-section (because of the dropping heart rate issue). I have heard horror stories about women who could not walk and were in serious pain for weeks after their C-section. I didn’t have those issues. By the time I left the hospital I was off the pain medication and moving around wasn’t much of an issue. We live in a 3 story townhouse with a lot of stairs which could have been a disaster!
Pregnancy and labor are super exhausting. Although it can be challenging to motivate yourself, working out really makes a big difference.
Here are some of my go-to exercises:
- Fitness ball — If you get a 40cm fitness ball you can use it for a ton of things. Even just sitting on it while you are at home or work will help strengthen your core and make sure that baby is positioned well. Try sitting on the edge of the ball and lower up and down to do an easy ab workout, or use dumbbells and press up to workout your core, arms and shoulders.
- Lunges and squats — I did lunges and squats pretty much every single day. You can even kegal while you are doing these to help strengthen your pelvic floor. The lunges and squats are especially good towards the end of pregnancy to make sure baby is positioned well and to encourage him to come out. With the squats you can use the fitness ball against the wall for added support. You can incorporate dumbbell curls for added arm work.
- Abs — Doing lots of abs will help with pushing. I did side planks and leg lifts.
- Step Machine — Cardio can be tough because you don’t want your heart rate going too high. The step machine is a great way to get the cardio in, but without spiking your heart rate like you might do with an elliptical. Try the step machine for 10 minutes on a lower level.
- Yoga — I did my regular power yoga class for most of my pregnancy but they also have pre-natal yoga for those who are less experienced. Yoga is great for working on the core and pelvic floor, but all for learning breathing techniques which you will definitely need!
Working out during pregnancy will also set you up well to lose that baby weight after pregnancy. Again, to be sure to consult your doctor before starting any type of exercise while pregnant.