Can I Workout During Pregnancy if I Wasn't Active Before?
There’s no question - exercising regularly during pregnancy has A LOT of benefits. But maybe you’ve heard that you shouldn’t do anything that your body wasn’t used to pre-pregnancy.
So does that mean if you didn’t really workout before getting pregnant, you can’t workout during pregnancy?!
In this blog post we’re going to break down this myth (because YES - you can safely workout during pregnancy if you weren’t active before!) and I’m going to give you a road map to get started so that you can feel confident and safe in your exercises as your body changes and grows!
If we are meeting for the first time - Hi! Welcome to Vibrant Mama Wellness! My name is Megan, and I am a pre and postnatal personal trainer. I am certified through the National Academy of Sports Medicine, with a specialization in pre+postnatal fitness through Pronatal fitness. I am a mom to a toddler, and pregnant with my second baby!
(Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice. This blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or condition. This blog post is based on my own research and experience - please consult a medical professional before starting or making any changes to your exercise program).
So first things first, make sure that you have gotten clearance from your doctor to workout during pregnancy. This means that you don’t have any complications and are having a textbook, healthy pregnancy.
Once you have gotten this, and if you’re feeling up for it, here are the 5 steps I want you to take to exercise safely during pregnancy so you can reap the benefits!!
Learn how to breathe and connect to your core and pelvic floor.
So many people are not breathing correctly. You may be thinking, “What do you mean? I’ve been breathing my whole life, I can't be doing it wrong.”
But here’s the thing - due to our more sedentary lifestyles and high levels of stress in day-to-day life, many people take small, shallow breaths in the upper part of their chest. What ends up happening is the smaller intercostal muscles (muscles between the ribs) are working to pull the air in, rather than the diaphragm pulling air down into the lower ribcage and belly, also engaging the deep core muscles (transverse abdominis) and pelvic floor. Because of this, pressure in the abdomen isn’t being managed properly which means there is extra stress on the pelvic floor (which we don’t want during pregnancy!)
So what you want to do is learn how to take deep, full breaths using the diaphragm, also known as diaphragmatic breathing, or what I like to call, 360 breathing. I teach you exactly how to do this and connect your pelvic floor to your breathing in my Vibrantly You™ Pregnancy Program (check it out here). But what you want to do is: on the inhale breath, allow the entire ribcage to expand 360 degrees and bring air down towards your belly. You should feel your pelvic floor relax. On the exhale breath, blow air out like you’re blowing out birthday candles, and feel the ribcage close, along with the pelvic floor slightly lifting.
Master basic exercises and pay attention to your alignment and form.
Don’t try to do crazy exercises you’ve seen on Instagram or Pinterest (especially not right off the bat). Pregnancy isn’t the time to be doing fancy moves that likely aren’t going to get you results anyways. Instead, I want you to start with the basics i.e. squats, deadlifts, rows, etc, and MASTER these without any weight! Learning the correct form and how to pair your breathing is going to create a solid foundation for you that will make your pregnancy so much more comfortable!!
Add in strength training as you feel comfortable.
Once you've mastered the basic movement patterns and you feel like you’ve gotten your breathing technique down, you can incorporate weights! Again pregnancy isn’t the time to be setting any personal records. Start with a lower weight and as you get stronger you can increase! If your form suffers, that’s an indicator to lower the weight. Lifting weights is safe and recommended during pregnancy, just don’t push it if your body is giving you signs that you’re lifting too heavy!
Add in endurance and mobility to prepare for labor.
These are two crucial components of prenatal training. When preparing for labor, you want to build endurance and stamina, and you need mobility in your hips and pelvis to help the baby maneuver their way through the pelvis and birth canal and safely into your arms!
Follow a prenatal workout program!
This can be a lot to piece together on your own (which is why the overwhelm is REAL). But I also know how challenging it can be to find a quality prenatal fitness program that wasn’t created by a random influencer. In my Vibrantly You™ Pregnancy Program, I strategically created workouts that build upon each other (but are also safe for all trimesters if you want to mix and match) to cover ALL of these components! All you need to do is press play and workout alongside me. Check it out here!
Over the years, research has shown that exercise is beneficial for both the pregnant person and baby, and not being active pre-pregnancy should not be a deterrent! I hope these tips helped reassure you that you can safely and effectively begin a workout routine during your pregnancy that will leave you feeling strong, confident, and ready to take on labor and postpartum recovery. And I’m right here cheering you on!
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Disclaimer: This blog does not serve as medical advice. Please consult your medical provider before starting a new fitness routine. This blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition.