Erin O’Loughlin is a certified personal trainer, pre-post natal and Barre fitness instructor. She is also a research coordinator at the CRCHUM working on the project AdoQuest, whose main objective is to determine the extent of co-occurrence of modifiable lifestyle behaviors among youth along the life course.
Stay fit and healthy in pregnancy
As I write this, I am 34 weeks (plus a few days) pregnant with my second child! I have been as active as I can be (4-6 days a week of planned physical activity) since week 15 (after a challenging first trimester when I was constantly ill and when I did what I could).
I wanted to share a few tips on how to stay fit and healthy during pregnancy. But first here are a few benefits of being active during pregnancy.
- Shorter labour and delivery
- Weight management
- Less muscle loss
- Reduced anxiety and depressive symptoms
- Reduced healing time/better recovery
- Higher self-esteem
- Reduced body aches during and after pregnancy
- Reduced risk of being sedentary in pregnancy
- Control of blood sugar and less risk of gestational diabetes
- Baby receives increased oxygen, nutrients and healthy hormones
- Reduced risk of diabetes
- Lower heart rate, more efficient heartbeat
- Increased likelihood of having a healthy weight
- More active brains
- Less stress during labour and delivery
- Higher APGAR score
- Fewer interventions required
And the list goes on…
Now, a few tips for you
Work out as you did before your pregnancy with some variation (listen to your body). If you did not work out before pregnancy, you can start a walking program, light weights, yoga or pilates in your second trimester with your doctor’s permission.
Don’t start anything completely new (i.e., don’t begin running if you have never run before)
If anything feels uncomfortable, STOP!
DO NOT DIET; focus on eating right and eating many types of nutritious foods!
Exercise for health, not for personal bests or calorie burn, but for the reasons above
Gain the appropriate amount of weight. This is between you and your doctor, but if your doctor tells you to watch your weight (in either sense), listen to them! If you need help, you can find a nutrition coach online or a local nutritionist or dietician. You will thank yourself after you have given birth. One of the last things you want to stress about is your weight after you deliver.
Don’t compare your pregnancy to others’ in real life or social media. This can be tough, but really try to focus on yourself and your own journey
Do what’s best for you. People may judge you for being active (been there!), but you know yourself best and what’s best for that life growing inside of you. Or, if you are not up to working out listen to your body and get moving when you are up to it, 10-15 minute daily walks still have many benefits.
There are many resources for pre-natal workouts. Try to find some classes in your neighbourhood. If these are not within your budget or geographically inaccessible, check out pre-natal workouts on Pinterest, You Tube or just Google pre-natal program. There are many free resources, but also some great pre-natal guides that are low cost. I loved the app apptive for walks and their pre-natal program.
One final thought is to continue to be active post baby. This is an important time to keep on with the healthy habits you began in pregnancy (i.e., quitting smoking, eating healthier, drinking less, exercising more). As much as these are important in pregnancy, they are arguably even more important post-natally. Good luck and move that bump!