Staying Healthy While Pregnant
Making the decision to have a baby is one of the biggest decisions a woman will make in her lifetime. Those who are heavily involved with their workouts are sometimes a little tentative to make this decision because they know that it's a long nine months where they will have to be adapting their current workout regime and then can be a long time after getting back to their pre-baby weight, depending on the individual situation.
Some new mothers regain their pre-baby body very quickly, while for others, those last few pregnancy pounds just don't want to seem to leave.
To any woman who's put in a lot of time and effort getting to and maintaining a lower body fat level, this almost always does cause some degree of anxiety.
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Making The Decision To Have A Baby Is One Of The
Biggest Decisions A Woman Will Make In Her Lifetime.
Because of this, it's important to learn what you can do in terms of your workouts during pregnancy and the best methods to stay healthy while pregnant, not only for yourself, but for your unborn child. Here are the big points you need to know about staying healthy while pregnant.
Benefits Of Exercising During Pregnancy
Many years ago, women were actually advised to stay away from exercise entirely during pregnancy, but now things have changed and most are encouraged to participate in some form of exercise on a regular basis.
First off, participating in exercise will help you feel better as the body will be moving around, keeping the blood circulating to the various tissues. This goes a long way to help out with cramping that may occur when pregnant, as well as helping to boost your overall energy levels.
Staying active can also help to reduce the occurrence of headaches, backaches (provided exercise is performed properly), and helps to reduce joint soreness since the more active your joints stay, the more active the lubricating fluid within the joint will be.
Since exercise does burn calories as well, keeping active can help keep the pregnancy weight gain at bay, however note that you should never exercise with the purpose of losing weight while pregnant, unless you are at a very heavy weight to start with and have your doctor's recommendation to try and shed a few pounds.
Your body needs the extra calories at this point for the baby's development, so you must not short yourself - the exercise will simply help to prevent too much additional fat gain.
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Not to mention that staying active while pregnant will make getting back into your workouts after pregnancy that much easier.
Exercise Guidelines During Pregnancy
Heart Rate Issues:
One of the oldest
myths about exercising while pregnant was that you should keep your
heart rate at 130 beats per minute or lower. You were instructed that if it went higher with this, you should back down immediately.
Now this is changing and it is seen to be safe to work out a little harder. A better guideline to use is a rate of perceived exertion. This is also better because different women will have naturally different heart rates when performing exercise.
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For example, one woman working at one pace may find her heart speeds to 120 beats per minute, while another one equally as fit might find it speeds to 140 beats per minute. This a genetic variation that needs to be accounted for.
So instead, try and keep your rate of perceived exertion somewhere around the five to seven mark during the early stages of pregnancy and four to six mark closer to when you're due (on a scale of one to ten).
Abdominal Exercises - Yes Or No?
When pregnant, many women worry about performing any type of
abdominal exercises for fear it may crush their baby.
While you definitely don't want to lie right on your stomach during pregnancy, you can safely still perform many abdominal exercises.
During the first trimester some light crunches can still be performed, however after this time as you move into your second trimester, avoid any exercises that you perform lying on your back.
Good options at this point would include simple
stomach contractions (tightening and holding it), standing pelvic tilts, or some gentle
knee raises while hanging from a padded standing ab machine.
Being Aware Of High Intensity Lifting Movements:
While pregnant, one thing you will want to avoid so you stay healthy and safe with your workouts is very intense weight lifting exercises that will require strong muscle contractions.
When pregnant, the body will release a hormone that is designed to naturally help relax the joint tissues, so this will counteract what you are aiming to do, setting you up for injury. The big exercises to avoid are squats, lunges, one leg split squats, push-ups, and the bench press.
All of these are using the major joints and if the joints are too loose, you'll really struggle.
Paying Attention To Balance:
You'll also want to focus on your balancing abilities while pregnant as often these are impacted quite heavily. Avoid performing too many exercises that do require precise balance, so as to prevent falling over and suffering an injury to you or the baby.
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Author, Shannon Clark: "Avoid Performing
Too Many Exercises That Require Precise Balance."
Know When To Stop:
While you definitely should keep up your exercise program, it's vital that you do learn to recognize the warning signs that are telling you to stop.
In the past you may have forced yourself to just push through the pain, but now that you're pregnant this is not a smart move. Signals that you need to back off the exercise include feeling dizzy, lightheaded, having pain anywhere near the abdominal region, suffering spotting, or feeling nauseous.
If any of this happens, see your doctor as soon as possible to discuss what you were doing and if there is anything to be concerned over.
So, be sure you abide by these exercise guidelines. It's a great idea to find a personal trainer who specializes in pregnancy to help take you through your workouts to both ensure your safety and help motivate you to keep up with your workouts.
On the nutrition side of things, your doctor will likely have specific recommendations for you, but in general you should be trying to consume between 100 and 300 calories over and above your maintenance needs to promote healthy baby development while keeping weight gain in check.
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Many individuals believe it takes a great deal more calories than this during pregnancy, but for most women it doesn't. By keeping the calorie intake under control, you will really help fight excess weight gain as well, keeping the weight gain you do experience within the healthy recommended range of 20-40 pounds.
So, don't fear losing your fitness completely while pregnant. There are many ways you can incorporate exercise into your day while staying healthy that will both make you feel better while you're pregnant and help you regain your body back faster after you give birth.