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Oregon Family Magazine

Pre and Post Natal Fitness Training

02/02/2023 ● By Meredith Therrien
Prenatal exercise has been shown to have many benefits including preventing excess weight gain, reducing backaches, lowering the risk for gestational diabetes, and easing the labor process. Continuing a fitness routine after you have your baby can be helpful in improving your mood, boosting your energy levels and restoring your body and core muscles.

During the first trimester, there is not much that needs to change in your fitness routine. The most important thing is to listen to your body when it needs rest. This period of time comes with a huge increase in blood volume which can lead to you feeling out of breath more than usual. Take the time to replenish your body with plenty of water and give yourself grace if an exercise that usually feels easy feels a little more challenging.

The second trimester will most likely bring more energy, but it is an important time to start to be more mindful of your workouts. Here are a few tips to implement during this time and maintain throughout your pregnancy:

1. Avoid exercises laying on your back - In about 1/3 pregnancies, this can cause supine hypo-tension syndrome. The weight of the fetus can cause pressure and constrict the blood vessels affecting the blood flow.

2. Avoid twisting from your abdominal wall - This can cause extra pressure on your abdominal wall that is already facing more pressure than usual. Instead twist from your shoulders and without compression.

3. Avoid crunches or sit ups - These exercises cause a large amount of pressure on the outer abdominal wall and can contribute to diastasis recti, a separation of the abdominal wall through the mid-line. Instead, focus on exercises like planks and bird dogs that activate the transverse abdominis (the inner core muscles).

4. Aerobic exercise is safe - The rule of thumb is to make sure you are able to talk throughout the exercise and not get to the point where you are so out of breath you are unable to say full sentences. This is a great time to work out with friends so you can carry a conversation throughout for both fun and function.

5. Listen to your body - Drink plenty of water and take breaks as needed. Walking can also be a great form of exercise during this time.

After the baby is born, it is important to take time for your body to heal. Always get clearance from your doctor before returning to exercise, but in general most can return to workouts after about 6 weeks. It’s crucial to take it slow in the beginning.

The workouts you were doing at the end of your pregnancy should look like the workouts you start with post baby. While there can be a lot of pressure to “lose the baby weight” it is most important that you do it properly. Focusing on rebuilding strength in your body and your core will allow your body to function properly. Start with shorter workouts and build up to more intense, longer workouts as your body feels ready.

Fitness can be an excellent tool throughout your pregnancy journey and beyond. Listen to your body, take it at your pace and always get clearance from your medical professional before starting any exercise routine.