I initially began this blog post prior to our sweet daughters birth. Now 8 weeks later, I have added onto it, so you can get my pre and post baby thoughts on exercise and movement!
Exercise/movement was an integral part of the latter half of my pregnancy. To it I attribute much of why I felt so good during the pregnancy and recovery process so far (along with chiropractic care and good nutrition!) and for that reason I wanted to share my thoughts and personal preferences.
I am by no means a Personal Trainer or exercise physiologist. Let me be clear on that! One day I would love to incorporate a fitness certificate or training into what do but for now, I am just a Nutrition expert.
Why I exercised (Pre- birth thoughts )
You have seen the list before…the list of all the reasons to exercise. The benefits of regular, diverse, challenging movement (aka “exercise”) is long and amazing. I believe all of them too. But you probably aren’t interested in that list. You can google it. For me personally, I have benefited from exercise because I liked it, it made me stronger and because I have a history of thyroid disease which does no favors to your metabolism. I also enjoy trying new things and (perhaps the MOST significant) getting outside!!
But pregnancy changed a few things in the exercise department, although it did not change the fact that I did it. First off, in the first trimester, I didn’t really “enjoy” it like I used to. (just like eating). I am SO thankful that it was a discipline that I practiced before getting pregnant. I was able to keep it up to a lesser decree simply because I had made a habit of it. It’s like brushing your teeth. You may not like it, it may not even be convenient, and you may spend more or less time doing it each day BUT you do it consistently.
What I did
You will see below that I do a lot of different things. I normally didn’t do them all at once, usually two different types at a time, rotating them throughout the week.
Frequency :3-4x on average. I went 2- 4 miles each time. (one time I went 6 miles but that was pushing it!). I am blessed to live in the country where there are several routines with varying declines of incline. It is beautiful to get outside. I should mention that I do live in Oregon, and the latter half of my pregnancy was during the fall and winter. So YES I got out in the rain. So no exuses people! Once you get out there, it feels marvelous to move.
How it helped me: Where do I begin?! Sanity, circulantion, blood sugar control, vitamin D…..Walking was a BACKBONE to my entire movement routine for the entire pregnancy! I always could walk. ( and loved it too!). While I didn’t exercise much during my 1st trimester, I could do a little light walking (with crackers and fruit gummies and water!)
Frequency: (started in the 2nd trimester to the end of the 3rd). 3x/ week. I usually added it to a walking day or a Barre 3 day.
What IS TTapp: Ok honestly it is hard to explain (maybe it’s because the videos have not been refiled since the 90s?)While the movement may seem old fashioned or just plain weird, there is something tooo them. The movements are targeted to stimulate your lymph system and build muscle strength from the inside out, layer by layer. It also helps with chiropractic alignment. They are easy on the joints (no jumping, no weights) and you do them standing. The Basic routine is 15 min a day. That is it! It is easy to incorporate into a busy life!
How it helped me: This was an essential workout that I did right until the very morning I had my c-section at 37 weeks! I truly believe this is what helped my very short frame more retaining too much water. ( I really think this helped me keep my weekly chiropractic adjustments so well ! The Chiropractoer always commented on how well I was doing!). I also think it helps with the slow plumbing that I can be such a problem for us preggos! While the movement look a little silly, I am convinced that they work. Towards the end I just did this and walking consistently.
Post Baby NOTE: TTapp has been the 1st “exercise” program that I added back in after my 6 week post partum clearance. Again, it has helped enormously with the fluid buildup that sticks around your incision site and makes your tummy extra puffy! (yes ladies some of the tummy fluff is just fluid!). you feel energized and great after doing the moves!
Barre 3 Prental DVDs.
Frequency: 2x/ week (sometimes 3)
What it is:It is a mixture of pilates, yoga and ballet. While it may sound like a weird and strange fusion, it is challenging and strengthening (as well as stretching). You absolutely can get a cardio workout from it too! It is a full body workout that is challenging and gentle.
How it helped me: I LOVED these workouts and in particular, a Barre 3 workout specifically for preggos. They were gentle enough to where I could do them in my 1st trimester but challenging enough to use throughout the entire pregnancy as my body changed. I felt energized and strengthened. Some days I was a little sore! This also helped me to lengthen and stretch which was VERY important for me during weeks 22- 27 when baby Girl was growing fast and my round ligaments REALLY hurt!
Post Baby NOTE: I also added this in shortly after begin cleared for exercise. Boy did I feel it in really good ways. Felt challenging and restorative to my back muscles and inner core. I still love this DVD!
I wish I had a DVD that I could recommend for this but unfortunately I don’t. Libraries and even Amazon Prime have free options you can explore. I found You Tube videos that I liked and used those consistently.
Frequency: 2x/week. When I was really hurting I did it 3x a week and replaced it for the walking I had been doing.
How it helped me: Yoga made ALL the difference in weeks 22-27 when I was the most tight and uncomfortable. It honestly wasn’t until the chiropractor re-adjusted my pelvis (which was a bit off) that I felt more relief but prenatal yoga helped me loosen up and gave me the relief that I craved. I always felt like a million bucks after yoga.
I LOVE Lindsey Brin workouts in general!!! They are fantastic. However, I found that I only used this particular DVD in my 2nd trimester, before I went through the short phase of round ligament pain. I didn’t used it throughout the entire pregnancy. In the 1st trimester my heart rate got up to high and I wanted to puke (I walked for did Barre 3 instead). In the 3rd trimester I was more sore and not into bouncing around or lifting weights ( partially due to medical reasons and partially due to my own comfort).
I always preferred my own walking routine to her cardio segments and found my belly uncomfortable with the weightlifting. I appreciated how she had different workouts for each tirmenster….it just didn’t’ fit what my body wanted or needed the whole entire pregnancy. Everyone is different though, so I might be worth a try for you if you are interested. I am certainly going to do her post-natal workouts after pregnancy!
Thinks I didn’t do:
Ok so I lifted weights for a short time in my 2nd trimester but as I encountered a few bleeding issues and ligament issues I decided it just wasn’t right for my body. I chose, instead to do the workouts that helped me functionally, gave me relief and that my body craved. (yes, life food, your body can crave certain movements). Instead of worrying about “I should lift weights “ I tuned into the ways I could maintain strength despite all the changes. I don’t regret doing that for one moment!
Looking Back (post baby)
Now, after 8 weeks after my daughter’s birth, I can say without a doubt that movement and exercise was one of the THE best things I did during my pregnancy. But not just during…before as well. In fact, the fact that I was active prior to pregnancy helped me during my pregnancy and recovery.
If you are already an active person , keep it up! Be smart and sensible of your changing body. You don’t have to prove anything to anyone but also know that there will be days when moving around are just plain harder. Do what you can and 100% listen to your body! You may find yourself trying and enjoying new types of movement!
If you are NOT an active person and you are pregnant reading this…. don’t be discouraged! I truly believe that whatever you can give is so worth it! Just move as you can but move as consistently as you can. (like I said, walking was the backbone of my exercise routine throughout the pregnancy!)
Especially for Begininers, I would recommend my favorites : gentle, long walks and TTapp. Barre workouts are stupendous but Beginner might find them more challenging. If you are up for it, great!