Some of you may be mommies already, some of you may be in the midst of planning to be, and some of you may be running away screaming from this post at the very mention of the word. Whether you had a baby 10 years ago, having one tomorrow, or MAYBE considering thinking about having one 10 years from now, the notes in this article can still be important for you – pregnant or not. I had my first child 9 months ago so my advice is from firsthand experience; of course I can’t offer specific advice about your own bodies, babies, and how they are affected by the demands of pregnancy, but I hope I can help in some way to make pregnancy more enjoyable for you and more beneficial for your growing baby.
Don’t Eat for 2
We’ve all heard that phrase “you’re eating for 2 now!” I personally hate it because, unless you’re carrying an adult-size baby in your belly, you are not eating for 2. During pregnancy, you only need to consume 300-500 extra calories per day (depending on trimester) which – if you look on the label of that pack of cookies – does not amount to much. I can preach to you all day about eating healthy, but I would be a complete hypocrite because I didn’t. Did I eat fruit? Yes. Did I make myself eat salads? Yes. But I also ate McDonald’s and pizza and doughnuts when I wanted. I strongly believe that everything is good in moderation, so make sure you balance the bad foods with some good for the sake of your baby. Also, keep in mind that exercise burns calories, leaving you more calories to eat, so if you decide to get/remain active during pregnancy, that’ll buy you some extra options come snack time. There’s a cheat for you!
Stay Active… or Get Active
Hopefully you have been engaging in some sort of physical activities prior to pregnancy, but if not, it’s not too late. Don’t go join a Crossfit gym or decide to run a marathon, but something as simple as walking or swimming is excellent exercise for you and baby throughout your entire pregnancy. Anything that gets your body moving and your heart pumping is helping to carry oxygen to your developing baby and will help build up your endurance for the delivery room, so get moving! Make sure you check with your doctor, though, before beginning any exercise program to make sure you’re physically able to work out without harming you or your baby.
Exercise at Your Level
Now that you’ve decided to remain active as long as your pregnancy allows, it’s important to exercise at a safe level and listen to your body as it grows and changes. As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I switched to prenatal workouts to ensure I wasn’t doing anything that was putting a strain on my baby. The exercises were too easy in the beginning (I was annoyed that I wasn’t getting a good work out) but they sometimes ended up being too much for me by month 9, so it’s all relative. If you’re looking for ideas for good prenatal workouts to do in the comfort of your own home, these are the ones from my collection that I recommend:
All of them have different routines depending on your mood or what you want to focus on that day. I’d alternate between the 3 cardio programs and kept the yoga DVD in my bedroom for bedtime stretching. (Last time I looked on Amazon the yoga DVD wasn’t available, but find something that offers stretches for each trimester, as well as a bedtime routine to help calm you for sleep; that was so nice after a long day.)
As you progress through your pregnancy, your body will change and you probably won’t be able to do as much as before. As active as I was prior to pregnancy, I ran a 10k race at 15 weeks pregnant and then could hardly walk on the treadmill by week 30 thanks to weird side-stitches that prevented me from walking faster than a snail’s pace. Just keep in mind that every body is different and do what feels best for you and your baby. If you eventually have to stop working out completely, that’s okay too. Pregnancy is temporary, so you’ll be able to get back into the swing of things soon enough.
Weight Gain Is Inevitable
I know a few weirdos that claim to have only gained 5-10 pounds during pregnancy, and to that I say, HOW IN THE HELL?! I was 120 lbs pre-pregnancy and the day before my induction, I was 160 lbs. Yes, I gained 40 lbs while remaining active and eating what I needed… maaaaybe a little more… but that is just the weight that my body needed to put on in order to develop my baby as efficiently as possible. Obviously weight gain is a concern (you’ll be reminded of that every time you go to the doctor and see the scale become less and less of a friend) and your doctor will warn you if it becomes an issue, but just be smart about it and don’t let it control you. Enjoy your pregnancy and all the healthy pounds that come with it because, with luck and some hard work, they’ll fall back off post-pregnancy!
Nothing Can FULLY Prepare You for Birth
I am completely guilty of this and so I heed this warning from personal experience – no amount of preparations, no amount of stretching or breathing, can fully prepare you for delivery because you are not in control of that. I had a few friends who were active during their pregnancies and delivered their sons after 20 minutes of pushing, so I went into the hospital with the attitude “I’ve been working out. I got this!” However, my petite frame did not comply with my 8 lbs, 3 oz. son and so, after 2.25 hours of pushing and slight complications, my son was finally born. The next day I needed medicine not for delivery pains but for sore muscles because my entire body felt like I had had the workout of my life… muscles I didn’t even know existed were sore! Not to scare you because you could totally be one of the lucky ones who sneeze and magically a baby appears, but babies have a mind of their own and no amount of planning or preparation is going to determine how your delivery goes. So do what you can to get ready for it and then enjoy the ride.
As a fitness buff, I know how hard some of these tips are to hear, but as a mommy (even a mommy-to-be) you have to make decisions that put your baby first. Ultimately they are the right choices for you too. Just be safe, be smart, and get that belly moving!
Next up… POST-PREGNANCY!