I credit working out during my pregnancy for my quick recovery from pregnancy and labor. I had to have a c-section after two and a half hours of pushing. E's birth time was 5:50 am and by lunch time on that same day, I was catheter and IV free and up and walking around the hospital. This is not typical behavior of someone recovering from an invasive stomach surgery. When we were walking, the nurses and doctors always said, "You must have worked out during your pregnancy." I'm thinking this is a clue into quick recovery. My husband who is a physician was even able to pull some strings and I was released from the hospital the next day because I was feeling so great. I started walking a lot when I got home and within three weeks, I was able to jog/walk with the stroller. Again, this is not normal post-pregnancy behavior but I KNOW the only reason I was able to do this was because I remained very active during the pregnancy.
Having always been an athlete, I was not someone who was ecstatic at every change my body went through in pregnancy. I was really scared that my body would never be the same and I knew I didn't want to be one those people who have babies and then never get the baby weight off. My approach to this was about prevention. In my first trimester I was beyond exhausted all the time. When I was able, I was taking up to three naps a day! When you are that tired, the last thing you want to do is get out and go for a walk or run. One thing that I found that really helped me get some energy was to go ahead and go on that walk, even if it was super short. Usually the exhaustion eases up a little bit in the second and third trimester and that's when you can really focus on keeping your shape while you are seemingly losing it.
Depending on what your activity of choice is, you can do it through your pregnancy but at a lower level of intensity. I ran up until 33 weeks of my pregnancy but I was also a runner before I was pregnant. The picture above is me from a 5k that I ran at 23 weeks. I hit the gym and lifted weights about three days a week because that's what I had done before. In both activities my level of effort went down. I ran slower and allowed (made) myself walk if I was feeling too fatigued. I quit bench pressing (something about laying flat on your back) and switched to lighter weights on inclined press. And yes, I received a lot of funny looks and even had people tell me I was going to hurt the baby, which is FALSE by the way. If you weren't active before, now is not the time to be planning any marathons. However, if you were not active before, now is the perfect time for you to take up walking!
Walking is something every pregnant woman can do unless, of course, you are on bed rest from your doctor. Start out small; take a walk around the block or a track. If you start feeling faint, you are doing too much and stop immediately. It's about learning your body's cues and knowing the difference between a work out and being over worked. I think a lot of people confuse these two (even those that aren't pregnant). It's okay to sweat. It's okay to get your heart rate up a little. If you are not able to talk through whatever activity you are doing, it's too hard for pregnancy. Research has shown that babies that are born to mothers who had an active lifestyle tend to have a better heart. Who doesn't want that for their child?! Here is a planned out walking program for you.
Light weight training is something else you can start during pregnancy. Emphasis on light. Squats with no weight have been known to give your lower body extra stamina during labor. No, it will not cause you to go into labor. It is about form. Keep your back straight and don't let your knees go beyond your toes. Training your back muscles can also prove to be beneficial when you start feeling the weight of the baby out front. You can always Google how to do these sorts of moves or of course, ask me if you have no idea! For more information on weight lifting during pregnancy, check out the link below.
Yoga. After typing that word I have to take a moment and pay respect to this one thing that single handedly helped my back pain during pregnancy.
I had this really awesome thing happen that a lot of women experience and that is where the baby is positioned on a nerve. When I think of pregnancy and how I felt during, I remember this crippling pain. For some reason, sitting made it worse so once I got in the car to drive to work, I was screwed for the rest of the day. I would take my heating pad and yoga mat and lie on the floor of the classroom during planning period. Luckily (or maybe not), my students were used to my crazy antics that this didn't surprise them if they happened to come into the class at that time. I could run fine but sit down...bizarre.
I discovered this really awesome pregnancy yoga DVD that really helped my back during this time. It is called “Yoga for your Pregnancy: Your Guide to Prenatal Fitness and a Healthy Birth.” To be honest, I only did the first practice but it was all I ever needed. I still do some of those exercises when my back is feeling stiff. You can find it on Amazon here:
Well, that's all I have for right now. I must say that Fit Pregnancy magazine was my bible during my pregnancy. I hope to have helped. :)