Exercise may not be high on the list of things you feel like doing while battling morning sickness, fatigue, or other pregnancy related discomforts, but it may be worth it for both you and your baby. After all, exercise may be the very thing you need in order to feel less nauseous, more energized, or more comfortable. It may help you to get better rest, have an easier labor, and recover more quickly postpartum as well. In addition, exercise could have a significant impact on your mental health, which is known to affect fetal neurobehavioral development, and consequently, child outcomes. Studies even suggest that maternal exercise may be associated with higher IQ in babies!
So what special considerations are there when exercising for two? Here are some general do's and don'ts to keep in mind, but as always, consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise plan during pregnancy.
- Continue current activities, but know you may need to decrease intensity or make modifications
- Drink and fuel properly before and after exercise
- Keep cool during workouts
- Listen to your body
- Consider yoga poses that can help with back discomfort, strengthening prior to labor, and positioning of baby.
- Remember that you are carrying 20-40lbs of extra weight, including your beautiful baby! Give yourself grace and remember that you are already doing a very big and important job
- Start any new high intensity workouts
- Use heavy weights
- Lie on your back after the first trimester, which can restrict blood flow
- Do closed twists or back-bending yoga poses, and avoid over-stretching which can be easier to do with increased relaxin levels during pregnancy
- Put pressure on yourself to be active if you aren't feeling it on a given day. You know best what your body and baby needs, and sometimes rest should take priority
Written by Angie Traska of Align Doula Services, providing intuitive, attentive doula support that aligns with you. Looking for doula support or lactation counseling in the Madison area? Contact me here.