I first met Lani during the summer of 2011, when she complimented me on a pair of Enzo Angiolini brown gladiator sandals at the bus stop. I should’ve known at the time that we’d be friends someday. This was during the summer of 2011, and we were on our way to work. I saw her on the bus often but didn’t formally meet her until about a year later, when a mutual friend, Alexis (featured in a few of the photos below), introduced us. The three of us lived in the same condo building with our boyfriends/husband.
Lani was one of my first friends, if not the first, to have a baby. She openly shared some of her experiences with me, and we talked most often about fitness, which is an interest of both of ours. I was always impressed with how she kept moving during her pregnancy, and I remember the feeling of relief that came over me, an aspiring mother, when she told me that all of my exercising will especially pay off in labor someday. I admire her for her strength but, above all else, for taking care of herself and baby – who’s no longer a baby!
In honor of Mother’s Day and National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, she’s here to talk to us about that very topic: exercising during pregnancy. Happy Mother’s Day to Lani and all of the other expectant moms out there!
If you are anything like me, it’s that last thing on your mind when you are pregnant … It’s the last thing you want to coach your first-trimester, tired, sloth-like, icky-feeling self to do, but it’s so good for you and, of course, your little guy or gal.
What am I talking about? Working out while pregnant.
Yes, I said it. Working out while pregnant.
This was a taboo subject for our own mothers and still remains a sensitive one for a lot of people.
I’ve had people look at me strangely in the gym for working out.
I’ve even had my fair share of lectures regarding how I was harming my baby.
I went to the gym and Zumba classes until about the eighth month of my pregnancy, and, then, from that point to the day I gave birth, my workouts were long walks. The end result was a beautiful, happy and smart baby boy who’s now two and a half years old.
Was this outcome the result of working out? Did working out affect his development at all? WHO KNOWS, but I will share with you my experiences and opinions regarding why I think that working out during pregnancy is beneficial.
Now, before you, whether pregnant or not, consider working out, you should consult your physician. After you get the green light, go for it!
Benefit No. 1: Exercising helps you to beat first-trimester blues
As mentioned earlier, the first trimester is challenging. You are tired, likely sick and dealing with hormones. One of the many benefits of working out is that it gets your blood and oxygen pumping. I had so many days when I was so, so tired, but I made myself go and work out, even for 30 minutes – what most experts recommend – and was always amazed by how much better I felt, both physically and mentally. Regardless of what others say, do what makes your feel comfortable – a 30 minute walk, weight training, Zumba class… Just get moving!
Below is a list of activities that kept me fit during my pregnancy:
- Yoga (great for those random body aches!)
- Low-impact aerobics
- Resistance training (It is recommended that you use light weights, depending on your fitness level.)
A good rule of thumb when working out while pregnant is to listen to your body; it will tell you when it doesn’t appreciate what you’re doing. For example, when I was pregnant with my little guy, I could no longer run. Even before I started showing, my back just ached with pain, so I stopped. Same goes for planking. I often had a pain in my ribs that felt like my little guy was swinging off of them, so I stopped planking, too. There are plenty of other things you can do to get exercise, so be willing to change your routine.
Benefit No. 2: Exercising during pregnancy helps with labor
In addition to staying healthy, active and fit, I really believe that exercising helped me to endure labor. Think about all those times when you ran or lifted more weight than you had previously lifted. Think about the mental gymnastics that were going on in your brain to get you to your goal. Do you see where I am going with this? Think of working out as a nine-month labor preparation.
When you work out, you train not only your body but also your mind. It is the same thing with labor. You have to be able to get to a mental point that will get you through your contractions as well as build endurance to get you through labor and delivery.
I realize that everyone has their opinions and that different techniques work for different people, but I feel that working out really touches different facets of pregnancy. It keeps you healthy, builds your endurance and makes you mentally and physically stronger. What more could you want for your baby?!