There are so many misconceptions about exercise and pregnancy, that I want to share what I've learned. My doctor was a good resource of information, but there is valuable information online as well.
Exercise is Important During Pregnancy
There are so many benefits -- exercise during pregnancy makes the stress of labor easier, decreases lower extremity swelling, and reduces the risk of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.
I have continued to work out, averaging about 5 days a week. Most workouts are at Barry's Bootcamp, which is less than a mile from my home. Sometimes I go for a jog on my own, or I go to a spin class, but my favorite workout remains Barry's. Barry's is a one hour workout, half treadmill running, and half strength training. It's not easy, especially pregnant. To keep up with the running, I drop the speeds a bit. My jogging speed is 4.5 mph instead of 5, and I subtract one mile an hour from any speed that is called out. If I feel like I can run faster than that one mph handicap that I give myself, I'll pick it up.
Today, at 25 weeks of pregnancy, I ran successive 30-second sprints at 10.2, 10.3, and 10.4 mph.
What I've Noticed:
Up to week 8 -- Working out was a bit tougher. But doable.
Weeks 9-13 -- Morning sickness! Fatigue definitely set in, but worse than that was the nausea. I'd have to stop periodically to dry-heave, but once that would pass, I could keep going
Weeks 14-25 -- The morning sickness let up by about week 16. With a few modifications, I can still keep up with class.
This is me with trainer Scott Haddock, whose leg classes I take on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I finished off a "Face Yourself Challenge" by taking 19 classes in 30 days. A tough feat, more challenging doing it during second trimester of pregnancy. The card sort-of covers my growing belly.
What I've Learned:
There's so much nonsense online. I look to sources like this, from ACOG, the American College of OB-GYN, for good information.
It's safe to get your heart rate up. Even as recent as a couple years ago, pregnant women were told not to get their heart rate above 140 beats per minute. This is no longer the case. As a vigorous exerciser, I continue to push my limits when I run on the treadmill.
You can do sit-ups. I made the mistake of trusting Google before talking to my doctor. All sorts of articles caution about sit-ups, some going as far as to say a sit-up should never be done during pregnancy, for fear of a condition called diastasis recti, or separation of the abdominal muscles along the midline. As this is my first pregnancy, my doctor didn't feel that I am at significant risk with doing abdominal exercises. She advised me that I can do sit ups until my belly is too big. Even now at 25 weeks, I find myself still able to do full sit ups.
You can lift weights. Data is mixed. There's a suggestion that lifting heavy can lead to pre-term birth and intrauterine growth restriction. This study from Denmark suggests slight increased risk of preterm labor in those who lift more than 20 kg more than ten times a day. At Barry's, the workouts are with higher repetitions, and prior to pregnancy my "heavy" weights would be two 20-lb dumbbells. I've stuck with this weight.
Be careful lying on your back. When lying flat, the uterus compresses the inferior vena cava, the vein responsible for returning fluid to the heart. There's no real exact guideline of how long you can lie on your back. If there's a flat exercise where I'm lying on my back for longer than a minute, I'll sit up for a few seconds an then lie back down and continue.
This girl is jumping on my bladder! The uterus compresses the bladder as well. I definitely can't make it through an hour class without stopping in the restroom (embarrassingly, at least once....)
And finally... workout clothes!!!
I had to invest in some new sports bras around week 9, and then again around week 16. Pants were fine... up until recently. Now they squeeze my belly too much. I found a great pair of workout pants on Amazon. And, I've continued to wear some of my stretchier tops
As I get more pregnant, I'll post more about working out. I'm hoping to do Barry's, and run at Barry's, as long as I can. But I anticipate transitioning to more walking and water workouts.