By: Erin Bulvanoski
When I imagined myself pregnant back in the day, I never really thought much about how my fitness would or would not change. I figured I would just eat a lot of carbs, gain a ton of weight and try to stay active in the process. I had heard horror stories from some women who couldn’t workout while pregnant and then other inspiring stories from women who were running marathons the week before giving birth. Let’s just say, I had 0 expectations.
Every woman’s pregnancy is different, so do not take this as a one size fits all approach (always consult with your doctor first) but there are a few steps to take to ensure that you have a fit and safe pregnancy. First of all, the more fit you are going into your pregnancy, the more solid the foundation you have to build on. Many physicians suggest that pregnancy is not the time to start something new, however, it is perfectly acceptable to pick up where you left off. So if you’re someone who does handstand pushups and heavy deadlifts on the regular, by all means, keep it going! But don’t try to do your first wall walk or heavy snatch when you find out you have a baby on board.
Secondly, keep in mind that your sense of balance and ability to “think on your feet” diminishes as your center of gravity shifts. Basically, as the baby grows, you may become more clumsy and imbalanced so some exercises may need modifications as you progress in your pregnancy. Some examples include changing box jumps to step ups or burpees to step backs. These modifications only continue as you get rounder too. You may notice that you can’t do a pushup without your belly hitting the ground first or performing a clean forces you to change your bar path from up your body to around it. It is important to be aware of what modifications you can do here like doing pushups with your hand on a step instead or a pushup or deadlift instead of a clean.
You may have also guessed that abdominal movements are out. Say goodbye to your situps and V-ups once the little one is growing in there. You can plank for the first trimester if you don’t feel strained, but after that it is important not to put too much pressure on having a 6-pack. You will have plenty of time to get that back after the baby is born. So let’s recap so far: getting a good foundation of fitness before the baby making begins, taking out the jumping and abdominals as you get rounder and don’t try any new tricks. Sound good? Moving on to some mythbusters.
If you squat too heavy the baby will not fall out but it can put some unnecessary pressure on your nether regions so don’t try to break any records during your pregnancy. The main idea of keeping your fitness going while pregnant is to make your body solid and strong for yourself and your baby. I can tell you from experience that the entire pregnancy and even the labor were way easier because I was working out – especially with weight training. On days I felt more tired or weak, I could still pick up a barbell and toss some weight around without having to run or strain too much. It is easy to give into exhaustion when another human is literally feeding off of you so don’t put too much pressure on yourself either. If you need a day off – take it.
Don’t have any pregnant friends? Make some! The great thing about group fitness is that you’re bound to have one or two ladies who either are currently pregnant or have been and they are great people to consult when you’re starting your journey. I started to follow some fit and strong pregnant athletes on Instagram just to reassure myself that push presses and assault biking were totally cool activities to do regularly. No one has all the answers, but when you feel less alone in the process, it certainly helps to motivate you to keep going.
The most important thing to remember is that your journey is just yours. Just because the pregnant lady next to you is competing in triathlons and you’re just trying to press a dumbbell from shoulders to overhead head does not mean that either of you is right or wrong. Every day you just need to assess how you feel and what you can handle that day – then do it. The more you keep a fitness routine too, the easier it will be for you to get back to work after the little one is born. Always let your coach know as early as you can that you are pregnant and may need to modify. I found that most coaches at BRICK had some great suggestions and it was always nice to know someone is supporting your new journey!