Thursday, December 17, 2009

The FOURTH Day of Fitness...Pregnancy Tips

On the FOURTH Day of Fitness, FitMePink Blog gave to me...TIPS FOR YOUR PREGNANCY!

When I was pregnant with my daughter a few years ago, I was determined not to stop working out. I received a lot of slack from a lot of people. I needed to take it easy. I was hurting the baby. It wasn't healthy to work out so much. Blah, blah, blah. I felt pretty in tune with my body, and thought I knew what signs to look for to tell me to slow down. The first time I knew I needed to calm down a bit was pretty early on. I'd run 6 miles that morning, and my husband and I were outside visiting with a neighbor in the evening. I started blacking out, said I needed to sit down, and the next thing I knew, I woke up to my neighbor pouring water on my face while my husband tried to wake me up. I'd never passed out before. The nurse reassured me that passing out is actually normal when you're pregnant. Who knew?

I continued working out like I had before, and let my growing body gradually slow me down. When I was in the hospital, the nurse told me that I had an awesome baby. My contractions didn't phase her one bit. Her heart rate remained constant no matter what my body did. She attributed it to my working out.
Last April, I found out I was (unexpectedly) pregnant. I found out on a Thursday morning, and went on a long 13-mile run that Saturday. Later that day, at a family Easter party, I started bleeding. I had miscarried. For a while, I blamed the long run, although my doctor and nurse both told me it was completely unrelated. I couldn't help but wonder, though.

When I studied to be a Personal Trainer several years ago, I remember learning about pregnant women and exercise. I even told women not to let their heart rates go higher than 140 bpm. But myself? I've completely disregarded my own advice with each pregnancy, and continued exercising at a high intensity. And (so far), this pregnancy is no different. I'm 13 weeks pregnant (hallelujah...welcome back, energy!) Two days ago, I cycled. Yesterday, I ran. My heart rate went as high as 180 bpm as I sprinted for 3 minutes. And I feel great! BUT...should every pregnant woman exercise this intensely? The answer is a resounding NO!!!! Should I? Probably not for long, but for now I feel okay. Your level of activity BEFORE getting pregnant should help determine your level of activity WHILE with child.

Traditionally, pregnant women have been cautioned to stop intense physical, high-impact activity. Dr. James Clapp III, author of Exercising Through Your Pregnancy, however, has studied the effects of frequent, lengthy, intense workouts on athletes. He actually found that pregnant athletes' bodies were not only conditioned to handle these strenuous workouts, but that they actually had easier, healthier pregnancies! And the babies? Healthy and fine!

The key is listening to your body, and slowing down as it needs to! I definitely won't run my whole pregnancy...somewhere between 20 and 32 weeks I'll NEED to stop. But I will cycle. I will lift. I may switch to lighter weights at some point, but I won't stop (that is if all goes well...if my doctor says "STOP," I'll listen! But if the lady next to me on the treadmill says "STOP," I'll just politely smile and keep running!)

But what is my advice for other expectant or future-expectant mommies?
  1. TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR! If you want to excercise, get the go ahead, then GO AHEAD! If you have certain medical conditions, you may have to stop or modify your exercise. Just ask!
  2. DRINK LOTS OF WATER! You don't want to raise your core body temperature...especially in early pregnancy, so stay hydrated! (Even while may not feel thirsty, but drink up!) Dehydration late in pregnancy can cause pre-term labor!
  3. Don't skip the warm-up, or the cool-down! Avoid injury! And remember that the pregnancy hormone relaxin softens tendons and ligaments, so overflexing or extending the knee joints isn't a good idea unless you're conditioned for it.
  4. STOP EXERCISING IMMEDIATELY if you feel light headed, chest pains, or if you experience vaginal bleeding, uterine contractions, or if your membranes rupture.
  5. Eat a balanced diet! You NEED to replace the calories and glucose used during exercise!
  6. AVOID EXERCISES ON YOUR BACK after the first trimester, or if you feel light-headed or dizzy.
  7. Enjoy the miracle that is happening inside of you, and listen to what your body tells you!

And BEFORE getting pregnant, CLOSE YOUR DIASTASIS! Read more about this awful gap in your recti muscles here!

How do you feel about pregnancy and exercise? Do you use pregnancy as an excuse to slow down, or as a reason to keep on? Am I crazy for continuing to work out intensely? Should I stop? Discuss!


Jer + Lu said...

Great tips. I'm a Labor + Delivery nurse. I was too scared to run during my pregnancies, but did step-aerobics right up 'til delivery day. I gained 15 pounds with each pregnancy + was back to my normal weight within a week of each delivery! Exercise is a must!!

Jill said...

Exercise made a huge difference in my first trimester of this pregnancy. Exercising just makes me feel better physically and mentally. I think we're both due right around the same time. I'm a runner and my hip has been giving me problems since I've become pregnant, but I've still kept running for my sanity. I switch it up with the elliptical and cycling a couple of times a week. I know I'll need to stop probably during my third trimester at least for my hip to heal. I really should have stopped before now, but I couldn't bring myself to. I've cut way back though. I used to run 5 days a week and crosstrain on 1. Now I'm good if I run 3 days a week because of the hip pain. Good luck!