Stay Fit During And After Pregnancy
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Written By: Taylor Rao
The rumors about gaining weight during pregnancy and worries about losing the extra pounds postpartum swirl around the minds of almost every mama-to-be out there. And yes, while it’s a reality, gaining baby weight is just one step in the most miraculous journey of creating new life --and it’s not anything that anyone out there should be ashamed of.
But, instead of waiting around to see how your body responds to pregnancy, the better strategy involves being proactive no matter how many other items are on your to-do list as you await the arrival of your little one.
So, in between prepping your nursery and sending thank you cards to the guests who attended your baby shower, read up on these tips for how to stay physically and mentally fit during and after pregnancy.
Start working out before you see the two blue lines
If you’re not currently working out regularly but have discussed with your partner that getting pregnant is a #goal of yours, it certainly won’t hurt to start a fitness routine well before you start trying. When your body is used to physical activity, it’s not typically required to slow down too much when you do become pregnant, though you might switch up the type of workouts you do once you start working out for two.
Having a regular fitness routine will raise your energy levels throughout the pregnancy, as well as keep you as flexible, agile and on your feet as much as possible. While you’re pregnant, you’ll want to start out by doing low-impact workouts like yoga, jogging or water aerobics. So, if you haven’t tried any of those types of exercises before, try them out pre-pregnancy and see which ones you enjoy the most. That way you’ll have eased yourself into the routine and can stay on target with your workout goals while pregnant.
Curb the cravings early on
As interesting as it may be to figure out what your body is randomly begging for from you during pregnancy, whether it’s curly fries, a strawberry milkshake or a bowl of grapes, don’t go too crazy caving in on whatever it is you might be craving. Doctor’s orders are a thing for a reason, and if during your visits you’re given a list of foods to eat and those to stay away from, you best be listening.
Now, that doesn’t mean you have to be an A+ student in eating clean for 9 whole months, but you don’t want to form unhealthy eating habits using the excuse, “it’s just because I’m pregnant.”
The types of food you consume while pregnant should energize and nourish you and your new plus-one, and if you can manage clean eating before the baby, you’ll be used to a lifestyle that’ll have you grabbing for quick and healthy snacks in between feedings and diaper changes.
Get yourself a mommy girl squad
There’s no better way to deal with a challenge and crush your goals than having a team of people to support and push you. And while at home you have the backing of loved ones and friends to walk you through the emotional side of the pregnancy, those might not be the people who are hitting the gym with you and coaching you on the physical part of the process.
Before your baby bump even starts to show, start researching different fitness facilities that offer classes specifically for pregnant women, or browse Facebook and other social networking apps (like Meetup) in your area to see if you can join a group of moms or moms-to-be who work out together or support each other through online forums.
It’s true that sometimes you need someone by your side who’s been through exactly what you’re going through, to commiserate with on the tough days, and to laugh and smile with you to share all the joys along the way. You’ll be thankful to start building those, “from mom to mom” relationships from the get-go.
Don’t be afraid to take “me time” or, take your baby to work out with you
Your entire life changed forever the moment you found out you were expecting, and once you have your baby, you’ll quickly understand that life as you know it will really never be the same. And with that, you might think those days are gone where you took time to yourself and relaxed, totally uninterrupted for an hour or two. And that might be true --well, it will certainly feel true.
But, you must make “me time” a priority during your pregnancy, and convey the importance of it to your partner in parenting as well. Whether it’s the time you dedicate to an hour of yoga, reading, running --you name it. Even when a new baby becomes your new #1, it’s no excuse to cheat yourself of the releases you need to feel like yourself again.
And if that me time proves itself to be easier said than done, research fitness classes that are “mommy and me” friendly instead. There are dozens of programs out there where babies are more than welcome, making sure mom gets her daily dose of exercise without feeling that separation or guilt from being without baby.
Make your mental health the #1 priority
Though most of these tips concentrate on physical health, there is hardly anything more important than keeping tabs on your mental health before, during and especially after pregnancy. Postpartum depression affects many moms out there, and reading up on how to spot it before you give birth can help you assess your situation once the baby is born.
Even more than how adding on a few extra pounds is nothing to be ashamed of, experiencing the symptoms of postpartum depression is not something to be embarrassed about or feel like you need to hide from others. And while there might not be a singular way to prepare for what can happen once you give birth, understanding the side effects and being open with friends and family can help you ease into the transition from pregnancy to new motherhood.
Do your research, talk to your friends and family members who have had children, and start to understand, if you can, how this openness in communication can do your mental and physical health so much good. Your body is doing an incredible, amazing thing in 9 months, and the reward of being a mom afterwards will surely be an exciting challenge. But embrace it, talk about it, and you’ll be sure to feel rejuvenated with support, self-love and being able to experience motherhood in your own, unique way.