The excitement of becoming a mom-to-be can get quickly get clouded with questions big and small. Many first-time moms are constantly questioning their judgment and asking themselves (and their doctors and friends) if they are doing the right thing for their baby and this is true even when assessing their workout regimen.
The American Pregnancy Association does recommend that every pregnant woman stays active (unless she is experiencing complications or has been told otherwise by her doctor) because regular exercise helps expecting moms maintain a healthy weight, lower stress levels, improve sleep quality and prevent gestational diabetes. Although all exercise should be approved by your doctor, here are a few common facts and myths about working out while pregnant.
Keep your heart rate down
You may have heard that you are supposed to watch your heart rate while pregnant and avoid workouts that cause your heart rate to spike over 140 beats per minute. This used to be a widely-used recommendation among medical professionals but, in 2010, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists removed this guideline. Women, pregnant or not, have a wide range of heart rates and, often, a woman’s heart rate goes up after conception so this guideline was much too broad to apply to the population at large.
Avoid exhaustion and be careful not to overheat
Rather than track your heart rate, watch your temperature and energy level. You don’t actually have to take your temperature but don’t let yourself get to the point where you feel winded, out of breath or uncomfortably hot from exercise. If you happen to be pregnant in the summer months, avoid working out outdoors in the afternoon when it’s hottest and drink lots of water to stay hydrated and cool.
Stay off your Back
Myth and Fact
This is both a myth and a fact because while, at any point during pregnancy, you can be on your back for a few seconds or even minutes without risking any harm to yourself or the baby, you shouldn’t be on your back for any long periods of time after the first trimester because it can reduce blood flow for both of you. Even if it’s still early on, roll onto your side and come to a seat if you feel nauseous or anytime something just doesn’t feel quite right.
Now’s not the time for adventure
Aside from trying a new prenatal yoga class or another workout specifically for moms-to-be, you should stick with what you know for now. Your body is constantly changing so it’s becoming increasingly difficult to ‘listen to your body’ and know your limits. On the other hand, if you continue the workouts you’re used to, you have a better idea of how much weight you should pick up or how far you could stretch in the past and don’t surpass these limits until well after baby. In addition, don’t partake in any adventure sports or activities that include a risk of falling.
Work your core to bounce back faster
In most other aspects, maintaining some level of fitness will make it so much easier to get back to your pre-pregnancy weight and shape but core work is a completely different ballgame. While pregnant, you should work your pelvic floor muscles to maintain low back support and encourage an easier delivery but avoid working your abdominals with any crunching or sit-up style exercises because this can lead to diastasis recti or a vertical abdominal separation. Some women that experience diastasis recti find that their abs come back together over time but others need surgery or find that the condition is permanent.