Let me begin by saying sorry that it has taken me five months to write a new post. The beginning of the year is a very busy time for a personal trainer. People are motivated to make this year the year they finally drop the excess weight, run that first marathon and in my case have their first baby. As I write this I am in my twentieth week of pregnancy and although my physical fitness prior to pregnancy has been a real asset, there are a few areas in which I know I could have done better. Briefly there are two areas of prenatal health and fitness I want to share with you today that every mom to be should consider.
- Preconception Health & Fitness
- Health & Fitness Level During Pregnancy
Prior to conceiving I knew that obesity in pregnancy could set me up for complications like gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. So for a year prior to conceiving I worked on eating a balanced diet and losing weight. As a personal trainer I was fit but my BMI classified me as being overweight and so I pushed to obtain my ideal weight and a BMI of less than 30. I was on my way to reaching that healthy weight and was confident that I could get there in a relatively short time so my husband and I decided to discontinue using birth control. I had heard so many stories of it taking a few months for your cycle to regulate and so I figured I had another two to three months to finish losing the weight before I got pregnant. Wrong! I went off of the pill and the next month I had one cycle, then the following month I missed a cycle and discovered that I was pregnant.
Like most women, upon discovering the news my “diet” went out the window. To be honest it felt good to not be so concerned about little splurges here and there. But I soon discovered that I could not afford to gain too much weight too quickly. Within the first eight weeks I gained ten pounds. As a result, I developed gestational hypertension. This is when you develop high blood pressure in the first trimester. If I had made it to my goal weight before discontinuing the birth control I would have had plenty of wiggle room to gain weight without becoming obese. Now I have to really manage my weight gain as not to gain more than a pound a week. Because I know the mechanics of how to lose or gain weight it has not been that hard. However, dealing with high blood pressure during pregnancy has been hard on me mentally because I now have to take medication which is something I was not accustomed to doing. I’m used to fixing everything with diet and exercise, but this is a situation in which I have to wait and see if the issue will resolve itself after I deliver my baby.
Once you are pregnant, unless you were super fit to begin with, your options for exercise may become limited. The first fourteen weeks are a crucial time of development for the fetus and its the time in which you will be most sapped of energy. But its best to find ways to keep active and manage your weight gain with good nutrition. Walking, modified Yoga or Pilates, Swimming and Low Impact Aerobics are all great ways to keep moving throughout your pregnancy. Of course you will want to get clearance from your doctor before beginning a new fitness regimen. I have found that eating well and staying active has had many positive effects so far in my pregnancy. Morning sickness and extreme fatigue were virtually non-existent for me. On occasion I experienced what I called “Night Sickness” which consisted of slight nausea and indigestion if I ate too big of a dinner. Otherwise I have felt pretty good most days of my pregnancy. Now that I am in the second trimester I have more energy and I nap a little less. I’m able to sustain a moderate level of exertion for about twenty minutes at a time. Yes, I miss my long eight mile runs through the forest preserves but I’m finding that the shorter, less strenuous workouts are all I really need to maintain at this time.
When exercising, it is really important to wear comfortable loose fitting clothes with plenty of room for your expanding belly. Workout gear and a swim suit are the only maternity clothes I’ve seen fit to purchase at this time. It’s also important to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and not become over heated. Maintain your level of intensity where you can comfortably carry on a conversation. You never want to become winded or panting for breath. Remember if you can’t breathe, neither can your baby. Exercise oxygenates the blood, energizes, and lessens the production of the stress hormone cortisol. These are all really great things for you and the baby.
As I go through this process I’ve been inspired to produce another fitness video. A short twenty minute video of exercises for the various stages of pregnancy. I’m also developing a Mommy and Me exercise series for postnatal health & fitness. So be on the look out for more information of these products and services in the near future. Check out my current videos on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbB0B9WuSk_6L3z_eEeCQog
Until Next Time,
Nicole D.P. McLaughlin, P.T.