Exercise While Expecting - Week 15
We often have expectant mothers question working out while pregnant. The short answer is this: DO IT!!! Science has proven that babies born with mothers that worked out regularly while pregnant have more brain activity. Exercise gives you more strength and endurance to carry the baby while in the womb, during delivery, recovery, and during infancy. It will make pregnancy more comfortable, helps your energy and hormone fluxuations, and simply makes you (and therefore baby) healthier.
Starting now, I would like to do a weekly blog about the progression of my pregnancy and how it affects me working out and vice versa.
I'll be completely honest, the first trimester kicked my butt! I was tired allll the time. It was everything I could do just to go to work every day. Thank God, I didn't have any morning sickness at all. The only issue I faced was the severe fatigue, and let me tell you, working out was the last thing I wanted to do. I forced myself (and I mean forced) to do at least 30 minutes of cardio once a week. Not enough, but it was something.
My doctor advised to drink a lot of water to help battle the fatigue. Ummmm, doc, I already drink a minimum of half a gallon a day as it is. I made myself drink more though. Hey, at least this way I get exercise running to the bathroom every 30 minutes!
So I struggled through the first trimester hanging on for that glorious second trimester every mom kept telling me about. I am so glad to be here! I feel like myself again. I did lose a lot of strength and conditioning during the first trimester, but I am ready to get back at it!
Pre-pregnancy, I tried to workout 5 days a week. I liked to mix things up between heavy weights, light weights/high reps, interval training, and I would do cardio at least 3 times a week. Since I've had a lot of time off, I'm starting slow. I'm going to workout 3 times a week for the next few weeks doing mostly light weight with high reps. This will build my strength back up without straining my body too badly, begin building endurance in my muscles, and getting my cardiovascular system back to where it was before. None of the workouts I am doing require a lot of experience. They can be great for beginners too. Just make sure you learn how to do each exercise with proper form and safety. YouTube is a great resource, consult a personal trainer, or feel free to ask me!
MONDAY - Back and abs
Superset: Lat pull-down / seated cable row (5 sets of 15 reps)
Superset: Dumbbell lat pull-over / bent over dumbbell row* (5 sets of 15 reps)
Superset: Lat push down / cable crossover (5 sets of 15 reps)
Crunches on inflatable workout ball: 10 regular, 10 to each side (3 sets)
20 minutes on ARC trainer
* Typically when I do bent over rows, I place my free hand (for instructional purposes I will say the left) on the weight rack as support when I bend over. I stagger my feet with my left foot forward and my right foot back to provide room to work the weight straight up and down. I quickly realized that this did put a little strain on my abdomen. Regardless of what exercise you're doing, pregnant or not, always keep your core engaged for spinal stability and to protect your organs against the strain. Since our abdomens are stretching with our growing baby, we aren't able to keep it as tight as before. So, I had to modify my stance a bit by putting my feet level with one another and shoulder-width apart. I was still bent over, but the weight i was lifting was distributed more evenly across my hips and therefore didn't strain my abdomen and cause discomfort.
WEDNESDAY - Shoulders and biceps
Superset: Shoulder press / seated curl (5 sets of 12 reps)
Superset: Alternating front dumbbell raise / cable curls (5 sets of 12 reps)
Superset: Dumbbell lateral raise / hammer curls (5 sets of 12 reps)
30 minutes on ARC trainer
FRIDAY - Legs
Superset: Squat / straight leg deadlift (5 sets of 10 reps)
Superset: Leg press / seated calf raise (5 sets of 15 reps)
Superset: Abductor / adductor (5 sets of 10 reps)
Superset: Leg extension / leg curl (5 sets of 15 reps)
20 minutes on ARC trainer
With all workouts, I gave myself about a minute rest between each set. Be sure to always warm up before working out and stretch afterward. Drinking a lot of water can never be over emphasized, and proper nutrition is key.
All workouts I talk about are purely suggestions. Always consult your physician before exercising (pregnant or not). When choosing weight, I was thoughtful to not go too heavy, but to make sure it was a challenge to finish each set. I am also careful considering which exercises I do and what equipment is necessary to conduct the exercise in order to not put the baby in danger.
If you ever have any questions, feel free to contact me. I am no expert. This is my first baby. I'm simply going off what my doctors says, my knowledge of working out and nutrition, and, most importantly, what my body tells me. The female body is an amazing thing. God designed it for the creation of another human being while not really being limited by this miracle. Don't let stigmas get in the way of you getting up and getting stuff done because you are pregnant, especially when it comes to the health of you and your precious baby.