Planning a pregnancy? Our writer explains why you might consider getting into an fitness routine first and offers advice on how to prepare your body for a healthy pregnancy.
Establishing a consistent fitness routine prior to getting pregnant will motivate you to maintain it during pregnancy which is important for the well-being of you and your baby. Staying active during pregnancy can help alleviate symptoms like swollen ankles, fatigue, and back pain.
Exercise guidelines for pregnancy often discuss maintaining a similar fitness routine to the one a mother was doing prior to getting pregnant at a slightly lower intensity. Meaning pregnancy is not the time to pick up a high intensity workout regimen that you have never done before in your life. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t continue with your jogging, biking, swimming, or weight-training regimen for example. All of these workouts can be slightly modified as needed for pregnancy if they were part of your existing fitness regimen. There is no time like the present to stay active and get strong!
There are certain exercises that should be avoided during pregnancy (when your ligaments are stretching) but that are important to do prior to getting pregnant. Strengthening your lower back and core, building cardiovascular endurance and increasing your hip-mobility will all help improve your chances of a pain-free and active pregnancy.
Strengthening your Lower Back
To help reduce back-pain during pregnancy it’s important to strengthen your lower back beforehand. Try doing 3 sets of the following exercises every other day.
- Wide Stance Kettlebell Swings 20 reps
- Bridge 20 reps
- Lying Lateral Leg Raises (10 per side)
- Superman (2 second hold at top) 10 reps
Strengthening your Core
During pregnancy there are certain exercises that are not encouraged (since they may aggravate diastasis recti) but they are great to do beforehand. Try doing 3 sets of the following exercises everyday:
- Plank (working up to holding for 1.5 minutes)
- Crunches 15-20 reps
- Side-Plank (30 seconds per side)
- Push-ups 10 reps (can be done from the knees)
Building Cardiovascular Endurance
It’s not uncommon for pregnant women to feel winded after climbing stairs or hills especially in the 2nd and 3rd trimester. Improving your cardiovascular endurance prior to getting pregnant will help you be able to maintain your cardio regimen during pregnancy. Aim for one of the following types of cardio every day.
- 45 minutes of brisk walking
- 20-25 minutes of jogging
- 15-20 minutes of stair climbing
- 10-15 minutes of hill-sprints
Improving your Hip-Mobility
Due to a loosening of ligaments in the 2nd and 3rd trimester, hip-pain is common in pregnancy and certain exercises are not recommended. Improving your hip-mobility beforehand is a great way to help reduce hip-pain during pregnancy. Aim for 3 sets of the following exercises every other day and add resistance as your strength increases.
- Split-squats (8 reps per side) going down slowly for 4 seconds
- Alternating lunges (10 per side)
- Sumo Squats (20 reps)
Consistency is Key
Getting into a consistent fitness regimen prior to pregnancy will not only prepare your body for the changes ahead, it will also encourage you to maintain exercise throughout your pregnancy. Prioritize exercise by scheduling it into your daily routine. Many of the exercises I recommended can be done with zero equipment making them easy to do in the comfort of your own home. Recruit a workout buddy to help keep you accountable. Even if you don’t always work out together you can share sweaty selfies or check in after your workout. I appreciate when friends tag me in their sweaty selfies because it motivates me to fit a workout in even on hectic days. Remember why you’re doing this: focussing on strengthening your core and lower-back, building up your cardiovascular endurance and improving your hip-mobility now will go a long way in helping reduce pain and discomfort during pregnancy. Happy mommy, happy baby!
*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Parent Life Network or their partners.