“Fit” and “pregnant” aren’t normally words you put together, but trust us: they’ve become a perfect pair. Gone are the days of treating an expectant mama like a fragile doll who might go into labor if she moves too quickly. These days, women are learning the benefits of a fit pregnancy; namely, healthier moms and babies. Prenatal exercise not only helps you keep off excess weight during and after your pregnancy, but also helps with your energy, mood, sleep and so much more. And while walking, swimming and other low impact forms of cardio are great for your energy and health, strength training is a crucial part of keeping your body fit and preparing you for motherhood.
Why Should I Strength Train During Pregnancy?
Let’s face it, carrying a baby is hard work and giving birth is a colossal challenge. But taking care of a small human in addition to everything else you already do in your life? Now that’s a superhuman task. The good news is that you’ll be more prepared than ever if you continue to strength train throughout your pregnancy. According to the ACOG (American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists), exercise during pregnancy has been shown to:
- Reduce backaches and constipation
- Reduce bloating and swelling
- Help prevent and treat gestational diabetes
- Strengthen your heart and blood vessels
- Increase your energy and mood
- Promote muscle tone, strength, and endurance
- Promote better sleep
- Facilitate easier labor and quicker recovery
- Help you get back to your old body more quickly
So lets recap:
- Your pregnancy is better if you strength train.
- Your birth experience is better if you strength train.
- Your post-birth experience is better if you strength train.
Seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? Except one thing—what about the baby? All of these health benefits seem to help the mom, but is strength training okay for baby too?
Is Exercise During Pregnancy Good For My Baby?
Of course for most moms the first concerns are about her baby, not herself. So it will warm your heart to know that regular prenatal exercise benefits baby as well! From healthier brains to proper birth weight and even the health of the baby’s blood vessels, the baby benefits just as much from the exercise mom does while pregnant. In fact, science even suggests that prenatal exercise benefits your baby’s heart health.
Related: 20-Minute Prenatal Cardio Workout
Is Prenatal Exercise OK For Me?
If you have a normal, healthy pregnancy you will likely be allowed—and even encouraged—to exercise. That being said, you should always consult with your doctor before you begin an exercise program. According to the Mayo Clinic your doctor may suggest you avoid exercise if you have any of the following:
- Some forms of heart and lung disease
- Preeclampsia or high blood pressure that develops for the first time during pregnancy
- Cervical problems
- Vaginal bleeding
- Placenta problems
- Preterm labor during your current pregnancy
- A multiple pregnancy at risk of preterm labor
- Premature rupture of the membranes
- Severe anemia
Better safe than sorry. Make sure you fall into the safe category before exercising when pregnant. If you get the go ahead, here are a few tips before you get started.
Tips For Exercising When Pregnant
- Warm up and cool down a bit longer than usual
- Don’t overwork: Keep your heart rate low enough that you can speak
- Use light to moderate weights
- Drink lots of water
- Avoid overheating
In general, listen to your body. Trust how you feel. If you experience dizziness, nausea, or bleeding, stop what you are doing and see your doctor. If you have been working out consistently before your pregnancy, you are likely to be able to continue with what you were doing and be just fine.
20-Minute Prenatal Strength Workout
If you get the go ahead and are ready to strength train, this 20-minute prenatal workout is the perfect plan for you to follow. These exercises provide a great balance of upper body, lower body and core strength work! If you have worked out prior to pregnancy, choose weights that challenge you without overworking. If you are just starting out, grab lighter weights—5 or 8 pound dumbbells should be plenty.
For each exercise below, do 8-12 repetitions (per side if you need to switch) then move directly to the next exercise. Once you finish the routine, go back to the top and repeat for a second time. The whole workout should take you about 15-20 minutes.
Learn how to do plié v raise.
Learn how to do single arm row.
Incline Push-Up (on toes or knees)
Learn how to do an incline push-up.
Learn how to do oblique burners.
Learn how to do bird dog.
Learn how to do fire hydrant.
If you enjoyed this workout, check out our Baby Bump Fitness System at GHU TV! It’s full of awesome prenatal workouts, from prenatal strength training to cardio and yoga.