Working out while pregnant: what worked + didn’t work for me
Please note: I wrote this post while I was still pregnant with Emory, hence why it’s written in present tense 🙂
Seeing as how I workout for a living, once I found out I was pregnant one of the first questions on my mind was if I’d be able to maintain my current routine. At the time I found out I was expecting, I was teaching weekly between 7-8 cycle classes, 5 bootcamp classes and training all my clients (I only instruct my bootcamp classes and clients by showing proper form and modifications so they’re less trying on my body but I’m still on my feet and actively moving around). On top of that, I was finishing up my Barre training so I was trying to take 3+ classes/week and practicing on my own.
So, needless to say, I was very active! First thing I did was discuss everything with my doctor to ensure it was safe for me to continue. She said as long as I listen to my body and continue to feel good, there was no reason why I need to limit any of my activity.
The first few weeks in, I felt great and (going back to my anxiety) I actually took more pregnancy tests to ensure I was still pregnant because I literally did not feel any different! Then probably around week 7 the nausea, fatigue and overall feeling of being ‘sober yet hungover’ day in and day out hit me like a ton of bricks! I could not sleep at night and was teaching early morning cycle classes 4 days a week waking up at 4:30am. Driving to my classes every morning, I felt super nauseous (threw up in my mouth a few times, cute I know) and overall just like I was a walking zombie. How in the world am I supposed to go into class and get people hyped up and motivated when I feel so awful and run down? It was a struggle and I can’t deny I felt defeated most days.
Drew and I decided we wanted to wait to tell everyone about the baby until after the first trimester so I couldn’t tell my bosses/clients why I was feeling like I was but I also couldn’t just quit my job! It would be one thing if I were working out for my own enjoyment and benefit but this was my career! I kept saying to myself pregnant doctors don’t stop operating, teachers don’t stop teaching, business owners don’t just close down their businesses, I can do this! I had to find a way to continue doing what I was doing while not overdoing it and taking care of my “new” body.
I’ve never been one to really sit still. I’m always on the go and get bored very easily if I’m not doing something. I also always felt very guilty if I ever just sat and did nothing. However, I knew that the amount of energy my body was putting out through exercise and growing a little human was too much and rest was more important than ever now. So that’s what I did! I would get home after my morning classes/clients, throw on some Bravo and CHILL until I needed to go back to work that afternoon. At first, the feelings of laziness made me feel super guilty but then I realized I needed to start practicing what I preach. I always tell my clients to listen to their bodies and pay attention to what it needs because each day is different. So I started to give myself some pep talks, “Hey, you’re growing a life inside you, this is what your body needs right now and you need to listen to it”.
It was still VERY challenging for me to keep up the energy during my classes though. In one of the many books I’ve read about pregnancy, the author is a doctor and was really struggling with morning sickness during her pregnancy. She said she would put vapor rub under her nose while operating so she would not throw up and said “we’re women, we can do anything, we persevere and we get through it” That really stuck with me. So every day before I started class, I tapped into my inner badass and told myself and the babe “LFG, we got this and we will persevere!” haha I’m actually not even kidding and it honestly really did help me! Sometimes you have to be your own biggest fan and give yourself the confidence to get through challenges.
So I made it through the dreaded first trimester + 5 or so weeks (yeah things they don’t tell you, not all symptoms go away at that magical 12 week mark, I still dealt with chronic headaches and fatigue up until I was around 17-18 weeks). But we were finally able to tell people we were expecting which was a huge load off my shoulders! I could talk to my fellow instructors about how I was feeling and ask for help if I needed it. My schedule also changed a bit so I didn’t have to teach so many super early classes since sleep was still not my friend.
And finally around 18 weeks, I started to feel more like myself. My energy was back, my headaches and nausea were gone, and I felt like a real human once again! Now at 28 weeks, I’m still doing a combo of cycle classes and resistance training (either barre or going to the gym) about 4-5 times a week depending on how I feel. Some days, I stretch and walk just to keep my body moving (get yourself an active goldendoodle if you need help getting to 10k steps a day!) My modification game is definitely expanding as my bump keeps growing and I’m taking more breaks but I’m still feeling really good overall!
A lot of people have asked me how and why I’m still exercising so much and it’s pretty simple; it’s who I am and I think my body would react negatively if I didn’t continue doing the things it’s used to. Pregnancy shouldn’t put a STOP sign on your life and previous routines, you just need to be proactive in speaking with your doctor, paying attention to what your body is telling you and doing what feels best for you. In general, exercising while pregnant is extremely safe and beneficial for both mom and baby with just a few modifications.
Below is a list of pre-natal exercise tips but please realize I am NOT a doctor so speak to your OB prior to and make sure you’re completely transparent and honest with him/her. Every pregnancy is different and you want to make sure you’re doing what is best for you and baby!
1. If you have not exercised prior to becoming pregnant but want to, you can but start slow and build gradually (even if you’re not pregnant, I would advise this). Start out by going for some simple 10 min walks and see how your body feels. Pregnancy is not the time to sign up for an Ironman competition but you can certainly start to move your body more.
2. Avoid contact sports. Anything that can cause harm to your growing belly you want to avoid. So leave the boxing gloves at home for 9 months!
3. You may want to avoid lying on your back for extended periods of time during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters as the weight of your uterus can compress the vena cava blood vessel. This disrupts blood flow to your baby and can leave you nauseated, dizzy, and short of breath. Talk to your doctor about this one though as there is a lot of debate on it.
4. Avoid unstable surfaces that could cause you to fall.
5. Listen to your body! Take breaks when needed, modify when needed and drink plenty of fluids.