We have all heard it, “being active in pregnancy, even a short walk daily, can help with better pregnancy outcomes and potentially shorten labor”. But anyone who has had a rough pregnancy, or even an “easy” pregnancy (which hasn’t been the case for me) laughs a little everytime we hear this. Yes, there are those women in workout classes or doing crossfit at 8 and 9 months pregnant. But let’s be real, those women are unicorns, the Joanna Gaines of women, walking among us mere mortals. So if that is you, congratulations and we all envy you!
With both pregnancies my heart rate goes through the roof very easily. Like folding laundry, easily. I hear this is pretty normal but it can still make you nervous. Because of this, with Luca, I was not comfortable with more than those previously mentioned daily walks. Most of the time this was a basic walk around my office building while chatting with friends/co-workers. My second pregnancy has been a lot more active because I’m a little less scared (pregnancy after infertility is very intimidating therefore making me conscious with Luca).
So this leads to the question what are the medical restrictions for fitness while pregnant?
To be clear, I am not a medical professional, just a girl that is on her second pregnancy. So please listen to your doctors opinions, you chose them to be your doctor for you a reason. There are two different medical opinions on working out during pregnancy that I have heard.
One, is that your heart rate shouldn’t go above 140. I strongly suggest having something to track your heart rate. I personally use an apple watch but there are other things like fitbits that work as well.
Second, is that if you can have a conversation while working out then you are within the appropriate limitations.
Personally, I have found those two things go hand in hand. I have allowed my heart rate to go higher than 140 but it doesn’t get much higher before I am out of breath so I do a combination of the two.
During the first trimester (plus a few extra weeks) of both pregnancies, I was very sick. If there was a day that I was actually up and moving around a short walk could make me sick. So if you’re reading this and you’re wanting a “fit pregnancy” but are feeling sick have grace on yourself the first trimester. You can try but it is okay to make it up in later trimesters!
After the first trimester, with Luca, walking kept me from gaining weight too quickly and, while I can’t say for certain that it was connected, my active labor was very short. I only gained a total of 28 pounds (in a 36 week pregnancy) and that was from short walks and limiting my sugar intake.
This time around has been different. My heart rate still jumps quickly but I feel a lot more comfortable doing different exercises, including cardio, weight lifting and machines.
- Cardio is good for me because it keeps the extra pounds in check. However, I have to limit this because it causes my heart rate to jump so quickly. If cardio it your thing I’ve found that the row machine is a great option that keeps my heart rate a little lower, while stair steppers are very difficult for more than a couple minutes. Just experiment and find what works best for you!
- Weight lifting and machines are a really good option for me at this point for a couple of reasons. 1. It doesn’t get my heart rate as high as cardio does and 2. It keeps my core engaged which is great preparation for pushing during labor.
So you maybe wondering, “why bother? This is the time to let loose, ‘eat for two’ and not worry about staying in shape.” While I understand this mindset, and it is SO easy to fall into, I kind of feel like it is a trap. If we let loose, ‘eat for two’ and all that implies, then you have have to deal with that later. It will be so much harder to get back to your normal.
Why not do everything in moderation while pregnant and then lose those pounds faster after baby arrives? You’re not going to want to take time away from that sweet bundle to go to the gym but you are going to want to feel good about yourself. So keep up your normal workout schedule (or add a walk to your day) while pregnant! I promise you won’t regret it after baby arrives.