Several friends and acquaintances have asked me how I was able to stay fit during my pregnancies. I am not a hard core athlete but love physical activity so I thought I’d share how I handled exercise during my first pregnancy.
Since my early 20’s I have been a fitness and sports enthusiast as I realized when I was a teenager how great I felt being fit and exercising regularly. Back then, when I was working on my masters degree in Paris, I started swimming three times /week. I used to go to the public pool and even though it was sometimes crowded, I was able to do laps and felt great afterwards. Throughout the years I added running, spinning, yoga, weight training and dancing.
When I got pregnant with my first baby I was running regularly and doing weights. I didn’t like yoga very much as I didn’t feel it gave me a good enough workout. Once I found out I was pregnant, one of the first things I checked with my obgyn was what activities I could keep doing. To my relief she said: “all of them”. Yay! My sports club offered at the time some Prenatal yoga lessons so I registered for those as well. Here is a summary of my physical activity by the different “stages” of my pregnancy:
General stage: Moderate morning sickness, high fatigue, no belly
Running: 2-3 times a week
Weight training: once a week
Occasional lap swim
General stage: No morning sickness, limited fatigue, small belly (typically the best months of the pregnancy)
Running twice a week
Occasional lap swim
Prenatal yoga once/week starting week 15
General stage: Moderate fatigue, bigger belly
Jogging until week 28
Swimming 2-3 times a week
Prenatal yoga once every 2 weeks
The last month I was sick with a relentless cold and unfortunately did not have much energy for working out, so I was mainly walking to work in the mornings.
In terms of my post delivery exercise routine as soon as I had my OBGYN’s blessing 4 weeks after delivery, I went back to running. 5 weeks postpartum I went back to swimming. I was able to return to my “normal” shape and lose the 25 pounds I had gained within 4 months!
My overall assessment of my activity level with the perspective of my second pregnancy, it that I started with a good routine but couldn’t keep it up until the end because I was overextended at work. So here are my two pieces of advice:
Pace yourself at work and delegate increasingly so that you can take care of yourself. After all, your team and coworkers will have to live without you for some time while you are on maternity leave. I loved exercising during my pregnancy as it allowed me to have a healthy pregnancy with no discomforts and a rapid recovery after birth.
Don’t wait until you are pregnant to start exercising. Start well ahead if you can (3-6 months) so that you can establish an exercise routine that you like and that you will be able to maintain during your pregnancy. The rule of thumb from my experience, reading and talking to doctors is: when you are pregnant you can keep your level of physical activity but not increase it.
Any advice written here is not supposed to replace any medical advice of course. The first goal during your pregnancy should be to keep a healthy baby inside your belly!