Getting pregnant is no walk in the park, no matter whether you are overweight or underweight, fitness model or couch potato, healthy eater or junk foodie. Each has its own challenges. During my pregnancy and now in my postpartum, I have received several questions about fitness. Here are my top five questions for each.
PREGNANCY and FITNESS
Q: Is it safe to exercise during pregnancy? If so, what exercises are recommended?
A: Yes, as long as your doctor does not recommend against a moderate exercise program, you are safe to exercise. It’s best to stick with whatever regimen you were doing pre-pregnancy rather than starting something completely new. The first trimester is the time where you can often keep up with your normal workouts, unless you are experiencing extreme fatigue.
Q: What if I don’t have the energy to exercise? Should I relax or work out anyway?
A: Relax and rest! Your body is working extremely hard to create a new person, so don’t feel guilty if you do not have the same drive to exercise. It’s your body telling you that there is another priority right now. Listen to your body. If you feel up to it, work out. If you don’t feel up to it, then just go for a walk or veg out with another episode of Downton Abbey.
Q: How do you handle comments in the gym when you are pregnant? Some tell me I’m working too hard. Others think I’m getting fat. Still others give me their two cents about everything from fitness to diet to work. Help!
A: It’s your body. It’s your baby. As my hubby says, “Opinions are like buttholes. Everyone has them!” It’s tough to keep those comments from getting under your skin. I found it especially tough during that 12-14 week mark when I just looked fat and bloated prior to the obvious baby bump.
Q: How do I handle the body image issue during pregnancy? I feel like I’m getting fat and worry I won’t get my body back.
A: If you have experienced body image issues any time before getting pregnant, you most likely will have a flare up during pregnancy. Very few women feel happy about their widening hips and burgeoning belly. Sure, the baby bump can be “cute,” but it’s too easy to feel worried that you’re gaining too much weight. D*** those pregnancy books telling you that you’ll only gain 3-5 lb during the first trimester! I gained at least 15 lb. probably due to my Mac and Cheese + Chimichanga diet. ;)
Q: Should I be doing different exercise programs during each trimester? What do you recommend?
A: Do what feels right to you during each trimester, and don’t let anyone guilt you into doing otherwise. I kept up my normal bodybuilding training program through about 14 weeks of my pregnancy. From weeks 14-20, I slowed down to just doing a bit of cardio and some full-body workouts. From weeks 20-28, I stopped my training completely because I was too exhausted mentally, physically and emotionally. From weeks 28-41, I just did a gentle prenatal yoga routine 5x weekly.
POSTPARTUM and FITNESS
Q: How soon can I work out like I used to?
A: I made the mistake of doing my pre-pregnancy workout just 1.5 weeks after delivery because I felt so good. I burnt myself out physically. I then "backed down" to doing the Body by Science program, a once a week workout. That seems to be the best fit for me, so I don’t have to spend an hour in the gym 5x/week any more to get similar results. Win-win.
Q: Is it safe to start losing weight right away?
A: I started dropping weight rapidly and immediately. My tummy shrank faster than I could keep up with. It might have been the breastfeeding. But then, the weight loss slowed down and seemed to grind to a halt when I reached size 5-6 in my jeans. When I dropped below that size, my milk supply dropped. I’ve settled for being this size while I nurse, as this is the best thing I can do for my baby right now. There will be time for being leaner later.
Q: When will the “mummy tummy” firm up and disappear.
A: I don’t know the answer to this question, as I still have that jiggle on my tummy along with a bit of “reserves" in my lower back. :)
Q: Will losing weight affect my breast milk supply? I want to breastfeed, but I also want to wriggle into my skinny jeans.
A: It depends. If you are not naturally a skinny mini, you might need to be satisfied with carrying a bit of extra padding around until you’re finished nursing. Many women experience lowered milk supply when they attempt to get to their pre-pregnancy weight (if they were very fit or lean at that time). I’m speaking from personal experience!
Q: What’s the best fitness program for a brand new mom?
A: Walking and wearing your baby . Until you’re 12-weeks-postpartum, don’t even stress about anything else. The most important thing you can do is to bond with your baby and to allow your body to rest and recover from the past year. You’ll know when it’s time to get back into your fitness routine.
Your Turn: What niggling question(s) have you had about fitness during pregnancy or the postpartum? Shoot me and email or leave your question below!