During my first pregnancy I was extremely cautious about everything I did and didn’t do….and I mean EVERYTHING. I, as I tend to do, took pregnancy limitations to the extreme. I gave up caffeine completely, switching from my beloved regular morning coffee to decaf. I never once had even a sip of alcohol, not even a little wine during my third trimester. I steered clear of all fish except for salmon in fear of mercury over-consumption, double checked the labels on all cheeses for pasteurization (even American and Cheddar), and the list goes on.
Now, halfway through my second pregnancy, I’ve learned to not be so obsessive. I’ll splurge on a small regular cup of caffeinated coffee each morning. I’ve had a few TINY tastes of red wine when my husband is trying a new kind. And I’ve learned to trust that the grocery stores and restaurants I visit are not sneaking some rare form of unpasteurized American cheese into the mix. Giving up all those things during my first pregnancy certainly didn’t hurt. There was nothing I gave up that took away nutrients or vitamins needed. And I’m sure that 9 month break from caffeine was actually great for my body! But it was hard on me mentally. I found myself stressing over all these little things that I really shouldn’t have. I am much more relaxed this time around and it’s actually made the pregnancy go by faster.
My biggest fear during my first pregnancy was pushing myself too hard during my workouts. As a result I cut back on many areas of fitness that usually make me feel great. I stopped running completely, gave up weights and strength training, and limited the time I spent being active. I wore a heart rate monitor, never letting my heart rate rise above 140 (which is really hard!) and I almost never broke a sweat. The truth is, I could have continued with many of the activities I gave up. Many of the previous recommendations for fitness during pregnancy have been disproven, while the list of benefits seems to just keep growing. I realize I cannot go full swing and push to my pre-pregnancy limits, but I’ve been less inclined to cut out all the exercises that I love. I can still do them, just with modifications. I even ran the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving! I was slow and steady, increasing my usual time by almost 5 minutes, but nonetheless I ran it and it felt great.
I have since stopped running because I haven’t felt up to it lately. It is always recommended to listen to your body and mine is telling me to take a break from running. Which is fine because I have continued with a variety of other exercises that I love at a modified level. For example, when weight training, I keep the weight between 5 and 8 pounds instead of 8-12.
Below are just a few of my go to favorite exercises. Aa reminder , you should always check with your doctor before engaging in any new fitness routines during pregnancy.
- Walking (if on a treadmill I always walk on an incline)
- Leg Lifts
- Bicep curls
- Tricep curls
- Shoulder presses
- Modified Push-ups
- Glute lifts (get on all fours, bend on leg at 90 degrees, lift and lower)
In addition, I’ve found a few workouts online that I really enjoy and have incorporated into my regular routines. They are each 10 minutes and are geared toward pregnant women. Again, never try anything new without consulting your doctor and always listen to your body!
What are some of your favorite prenatal exercises?