Perhaps you are in you first trimester of pregnancy, and you are looking into a whole assortment of things, from early pregnancy care, prenatal checkup timelines, trying to find a midwife or physician, to even staying fit during the course of your pregnancy. There are clearly a lot of things to consider, and physical fitness sometimes gets lost in the hustle and bustle of all the essentials involved with prenatal care. This is totally understandable, but what you may not realize is that staying physically active can affect your mental health and perhaps even the well-being of your little one on the way.
In today’s post we will be looking at a few health and safety tips to keep top of mind if you are considering starting a fitness routine. Of course, we recommend you always consult with your midwife or physician for advice on what you and your child are ready for taking on as part of your prenatal care.
We like this one. Make sure you allocate for the calories you will burn during your exercise. Eat well and strengthen your body enough to continue to gain the appropriate weight during your pregnancy. If your Body Mass Index is in a traditionally healthy range between 18.5 and 24.9, you’ll typically need to consume around 340 more calories per day in the second trimester (compared to when you weren’t pregnant), and roughly 450 more calories per day in the third trimester. Again, consult your midwife, as she will keep tabs on your weight as your pregnancy develops to make sure you stay in the appropriate range.
Avoid Dangerous Sports
This may seem fairly obvious to the majority of our readers, but if you are the ultra-competitive type, this may be a big challenge for you. Take a 9 month (or so) raincheck on contact sports like basketball, hockey, or soccer. Really it is best to avoid any athletic activity that may cause you to lose balance, including horseback riding, gymnastics, mountain biking, or surfing. It’s also not a great idea to learn a sport, because the novel kinetic movements may affect your balance and cause you to fall. Falls must be avoided at all costs, people. Instead, try yoga, a spiritual, physical, and mental practice that will actually reduce your stress levels and improve your balance.
No matter what sport or physical exercise plan you choose to go with as part of your early pregnancy care plan, make sure you take the right precautions by warming your body up for physical activity. Stretching prepares your muscles for activity, and does a good job of slowly increasing your heart rate, so it’s not a drastic change for you and the baby. A good rule of thumb for warming up is to do your intended activity at a slow rate, then gradually increase the pace of what you are doing. For example, if you are rock climbing, start with a little boulder. Just kidding! Don’t rock climb while you are pregnant, please. Maybe try fitness walking instead.
It’s important to keep moving while exercising. Staying in a static position for too long can reduce blood flow to your heart and uterus. For example, if you are holding a yoga pose for too long, your blood may pool in your legs, which would reduce your blood pressure and may make you dizzy. That is why it is probably best to join a pregnancy-specific yoga class so the poses are more catered to you.
Keep drinking water, ladies, we can’t emphasize this enough. Drink water before, during, and after you’re physically active. For that matter, make sure you get enough water even if you aren’t exercising that day. A good way to gauge if you are getting enough water is to check the color of your urine. Dark yellow urine would mean you are dehydrated and need to drink more. Have an hourly glass of water until your urine turns clearer.
No High Heat Or Humidity
Women who are pregnant can overheat much more easily than the rest of the population, due to increased blood flow and a higher metabolic rate. Even before your stomach gets big, this can still be the case. Hence, it is important to avoid humid or excessively hot environments during your pregnancy. If you do end up getting too hot doing while exercising, take a cool shower or get yourself into a cool, air conditioned environment as soon as possible. In addition, it’s best to avoid hot yoga or pilates classes, or hot tubs and saunas. Again, to some this might be common knowledge, but it’s better to be safe than sorry!
Wear Appropriate Clothing
It’s necessary to wear breathable clothing that the wind can pass through to cool you down. Dress in layers so that you can take a layer or two off once you get warmed up or start to feel overheated. No square pegs in round holes either, so if your pre-pregnancy workout shoes don’t fit anymore, go and buy some new ones. We recommend doing your sore feet a favor and buying some gel liners to provide some extra padding.
Make Exercise A Part Of Your Routine
Like any time of your life, exercise doesn’t really work unless you are committed to making it a habit. As part of your prenatal checkups, your midwife or physician will counsel you about how much physical activity is appropriate for you, but typically around 20 to 30 minutes of moderate exercise is acceptable. One of the most helpful ways you can solidify fitness as a habit is to have a workout buddy. Maybe invite one of the other ladies in your yoga class to go on a walk with you! Whatever you decide to do, we hope that these tips have been helpful and maybe even motivate you to start a fitness routine! Whatever is right for you and your baby, we hope that you consider us at Deanna D. Midwifery as the antenatal clinic that may be right for you and your baby’s needs.