Not staying fit during pregnancy was one of the biggest regrets I had during my first pregnancy.
I walked most days and as much as I could. I ate healthily. But, when it came to losing the baby weight and toning up I had to work my BUTT off (you can see my journey here)! I couldn’t believe how little tone or shape I had in my legs when pre-pregnancy I had been at the gym nearly every single day.
Pre-pregnancy I was someone who would go to the gym before or after work almost every day. Did I have the best body, heck no. But I felt fit, strong and healthy. When I became pregnant the first time round I didn’t really know where to turn to for workout advice, and I sure as heck didn’t feel confident enough to rock my bump at my already some-what pretentious gym.
During my first pregnancy I immediately quit my gym membership, bought a treadmill, and stuck to walking. Walking is amazing, however, I didn’t need to suddenly stop the exercise I was already doing. I just needed to adapt it to suit my growing bump.
Now don’t get me wrong, pregnancy is definitely a time to take it easy and listen to our body. But there are also so many health benefits for those who do stay fit during pregnancy, especially if you have always worked out! If we have the go-ahead from our practitioner (which is SUPER IMPORTANT TO SEEK FIRST) then why not adapt our workouts to help us stay fit during pregnancy.
What are the benefits of staying fit during pregnancy?
- Reducing the risk of obesity during pregnancy. Obesity in pregnancy has been shown to be associated with increased risk for gestational diabetes, hypertension, caesarean and other complications.
- You’re less likely to suffer from constipation. If you have been watching my Youtube pregnancy vlogs you will know that this was an issue for me at the start of my pregnancy. Exercising (in addition to eating a well balanced diet with plenty of water and fibre) has certainly improved this as exercise helps to keep the digestive system moving.
- Increased energy. Sounds contradictory, but exercising while pregnant (and at any other time) can certainly improve energy and mood. Tiredness is a huge struggle in pregnancy for so many of us (even more so when you have other little kiddies to run around after) so anything that helps, right!
- Losing the baby weight and returning to pre-pregnancy fitness will likely be easier. I can definitely vouch for this one! You only need to take one look at fitness guru Sophie Guidolin (mother of four) to see how staying fit during her TWIN pregnancy worked out for her!
Compared to my first pregnancy, I found that this time (second pregnancy) around I didn’t gain weight as quickly, maintained tone and strength in my legs, was able to keep up with my (whirlwind) toddler, and I had a little extra energy. I also returned to my pre-pregnancy weight within a few months (not that I think weight should be the focus here).
See my 19 week pregnancy update here for more on weight gain and exercise while pregnant.
So how DO we stay fit during pregnancy?
The tips and tricks that help me to stay fit during pregnancy:
These are the tips and tricks I have used during my second pregnancy that have helped me to stay fit, active and healthy while being mindful of my growing bump.
Commit to only 5-10 minutes a day.
This is definitely one of the most effective tips I can share. By only committing to 5-10 minutes of exercise per day you are making sure it is an achievable goal. Whether you work, have other children, have a household to run or just don’t feel like exercising, committing to 5 minutes seems like nothing (heck, you could even do that while brushing your teeth). More often than not I end up exercising for at least 20 minutes and never regret it!
Subscribe to an online studio with pregnancy specific workouts.
I subscribed to Booya Fitness (unfortunately no longer available), an online studio that had pregnancy-specific workouts designed for those of us expecting. Given I am not a fitness expert, I definitely wanted to find an expert who could share proper technique and safe exercises I could do while pregnant. I also loved that I could work out any time of the day in the comfort of my own home while my toddler slept or played around me (and sometimes in the comfort of my PJs). While Booya Fitness is no longer available there are actually quite a few online fitness studios available. Google your preferred exercise (e.g. weights, Barre, Pilates, Yoga) and see if there is one that appeals to you and supports pregnancy. Alternatively;
Speak to a qualified fitness expert who specialises in pregnancy/pre-natal fitness.
It is super important that you exercise with the correct form while pregnant so spending a little extra cash on a personal trainer will ensure you are safely exercising. While I didn’t do this during my pregnancy, I have sought support from an amazing trainer post-pregnancy which has been incredibly helpful.
Use YouTube for workout inspiration.
Walking is AMAZING for fitness, but it won’t keep you as toned as those bigger movements such as squats and lunges. I loved watching fitness guru Lucy Wyndham Read on YouTube and doing her ‘low impact’ version workouts. I also loved that her workouts are as short as 4 minutes or as long as you have time for. As per point number one, committing to 5-10 minutes was the best way for me to stay motivated and dedicated during pregnancy, a time when my motivation lacked a little more than usual.
Walk when you can.
Walking is a low impact exercise that (with medical clearance) can be done throughout pregnancy. I walked up until the day before I gave birth during my first pregnancy and continue to walk regularly during this pregnancy. It’s a great way to refresh, take some time out from the busy hustle and bustle of life and I love listening to my son pointing out all the different things he can see on our walks. Walking can also be meditative and relaxing or a great time to catch up on podcasts or your own thoughts. I love walking outside but if your weather doesn’t permit walking on a treadmill would be the next best option. Ensure you are cautious and follow the safety instructions for the equipment you use, especially considering your balance may be slightly off.
Can you believe I didn’t START pregnancy yoga until I was 35 weeks pregnant! I wish I had started sooner as it was one of the best forms of exercise, relaxation and stretching I could have done. During those last few weeks I pulled back on my workouts completely as movement became more and more difficult and instead went to yoga classes. Before starting classes I booked a private 1:1 lesson to learn proper technique and adaptions I could make while pregnant, a step I think is super important if you are pregnant. I was then able to adapt the classes to suit my needs. My last yoga class was the same week my daughter was born.
Wear comfortable clothing.
There is nothing worse than having leggings digging into your hips or a top riding up while working out. Finding comfortable and practical workout wear can make all the difference. This was my maternity haul, and below are some of my top picks. I personally preferred workout pants that came up over the bump which seem to be slightly harder to find, but if you are someone who likes under-the-bump pants you may have a few more options.
Don’t forget to ensure you have rest days and of course, only do what your body is capable of. ENSURE YOU SEEK MEDICAL CLEARANCE before embarking on any fitness journey, especially while pregnant.
P.S. Join me and make 2017 your healthiest year yet! Introducing my 5 day ‘not-so-ordinary’ detox program designed to have you de-stress, de-bloat and feel freaking fantastic!
Post-partum update and how working out during pregnancy #2 worked for me:
For those of you wondering how working out during pregnancy worked for me, let me share with you a quick update at 12 weeks postpartum (baby #2). The left photo was taken at 6 weeks after baby and the right photo 12 weeks after baby. I’ve worked hard, followed a customised meal plan developed by me (make sure you grab my free guide below so you’re on my mailing list to find out more!) and have been consistent (the most important part!) and I feel fitter than I have in a long time. As you can see, I’m no fitness model and I don’t have a super low body fat. But I definitely credit staying fit during pregnancy to how quickly I recovered and was able to feel comfortable, happy and energised after birth (through the sleepless nights, of course).
If you have any specific questions I’d love to hear from you. Email me or tag me on any of my social media accounts and I will do my best to get back to you.
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These posts are perfect if you want a little more detail. Click on the titles for further reading.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a fitness expert! Information contained in this post about how I remained fit during pregnancy is based on research in addition to my own personal experience and designed to provide inspiration only. As always please seek professional advice before embarking on an exercise program/journey during pregnancy and ensure you have medical clearance to do so.