Keeping Active During Pregnancy

Before we start this conversation on being active during pregnancy, I want to highlight that being active is neutral. It is not good. It is not bad. It simply is. For many of my clients with a history of an eating disorder or disordered eating, the changes in energy levels and activity levels in pregnancy can feel very triggering. If this is your experience, you are not alone. 

Sometimes, individuals will have tools they can utilize on their own during this time of massive changes, but other times, working with a professional can be the safest and best option. Just like I refer out to other care practitioners when someone is dealing with higher-risk pregnancies, I also refer out to nutritionists and therapists when dealing with disordered eating and body dysmorphia. Needing extra support is something that many need, and most do not seek out. If anything in this article is difficult or triggering for you, it is a good sign that you may need some additional support during your pregnancy.

How Much Activity is Okay?

Participating in the same activity level as before pregnancy is a good rule of thumb for most individuals. In pregnancy, a hormone called relaxin flows through your body. It can make joints and muscles more flexible, so it is essential to take things in exercise slowly, especially while stretching and lifting. 

If you were not active before pregnancy, discuss your options with your care provider. Usually, they will encourage a gentle start, like daily walks, and slowly build up. Many find peace and power knowing that the body is strong even while pregnant. I have watched professional athletes continue training throughout pregnancy, CrossFit and weightlifters continue to make personal records, and marathon runners win races. As I stated previously, continuing to stay active is a safe and viable option in most scenarios.

When Will I Need to Slow Down?

For some, there will need to be a lessened activity level, whether prescribed by your care provider or due to the natural decrease in energy or morning sickness. Some reasons a care provider may recommend lessening activity level or stopping completely would be due to risk factors, especially things like a history of premature labor or stillbirth. 

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If you are nervous about being active during pregnancy, it is always a good idea to chat with your care provider and get the green light. If your body is telling you to rest either by you feeling fatigued or by you having morning sickness, my best recommendation is to listen. I know how hard it can feel to go from being extremely active to resting in bed most of the day. I also know that the body is smart and often does an excellent job at letting us know its needs. 

Learning to listen and be in tune with your body and its needs during pregnancy and postpartum can be an empowering experience if you allow it to be. Remember that pregnancy is temporary. You will eventually return to your daily runs or workout classes, just not today. Trust your body and trust the process as you experience different sensations. 

Body Movement During Pregnancy

We recommend it if someone can move their bodies, even just ten minutes a day or while chasing toddlers. Body movement during pregnancy can help with a myriad of complications and pregnancy side effects. Doing high cardio when dealing with gestational diabetes can help regulate glucose levels, daily walks and stretching can help with aches and pains, and daily movement for at least 30-60 minutes can help lessen the chance of hypertension and even take it away. Proper body movement can help with sleeping, and we also know that moving our bodies produces endorphins. And these are happy hormones, so body movement can also improve mental health during pregnancy.

Some of the favorite and most doable exercises in pregnancy are daily walks, swimming, and yoga. Working on pelvic floor health is also a great idea. There are apps like Every Mother, but seeing a pelvic floor therapist in person can help individualize your care even more. If you are big into weightlifting, dancing, gymnastics, or CrossFit, it is expected to have an overactive pelvic floor. Seeing a therapist will help give ideas on how to release that and, in turn, decrease the chance of tearing more severely or needing an episiotomy. Our pelvic floors play a crucial role in our daily lives, so beginning to give that area of our body some attention only has benefits.

Listen to Your Body

As you move throughout your pregnancy, listen to your body and what it tells you. Oftentimes, your body will show signs that you have pushed it too hard, either by being exhausted the next day, making it hard to catch your breath, or feeling uncomfortable in certain positions. Listen to it and change your movement and exercise regimens when needed. It is okay if all you did today was survive. 

Pregnancy can be one of the most challenging things we go through, and if you are barely making it through your day, keep on keeping on. There may come a time when your body can move a little more actively, or this pregnancy may be encouraging you to lean into rest. Either way, listening to it is always going to provide the best results. Lastly, if you are feeling triggered by your body’s changes, experiencing body dysmorphia, or simply want extra support, seeking out a nutritionist and a therapist who specializes in eating disorders can be impactful.


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