I’m now 22 weeks through my second pregnancy with our baby girl, and more than halfway to the finish line! This is the part of pregnancy that I really enjoy. For me, the second trimester brings renewed energy levels, nausea fades away and strangers begin to take notice of that growing bump.
So, while I took advantage of nap time in the first trimester, I’m trying my best to capitalize on these good feelings to stay active for a healthy pregnancy.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends being active and exercising at least 30 minutes for most, if not all, days of the week for those with typical pregnancies.
Here are just some of the positive benefits of exercising and staying active during pregnancy:
- Regular exercise will give you more energy
- It’ll help you sleep (better take advantage of that while you still can!)
- It’ll help improve your mood
- It’ll help prepare you for childbirth
- It’ll make losing that dreaded baby weight a lot easier
(source: American Pregnancy)
I stayed active and exercised during my last pregnancy. I ended up having a wonderful pregnancy, a very fast, yet not-so-painless labor, and I bounced back to my normal self relatively fast. Now I can’t say for sure if exercise during pregnancy was the direct cause (I guess we’ll see this time around), but I’m sure it helped!
7 Ways to Stay Active for a Healthy Pregnancy
*Note: Be sure to talk with your doctor before doing any type of exercise during pregnancy. We’re all different, and we all have different pregnancies!
The ACOG may recommend at least 30 minutes of exercise, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessary to go crazy with intense workouts or start running 10 miles every day. You could I suppose, but there are lots of ways to stay active and healthy without going overboard.
1. Walk… a lot
You know those handy parking spots designated just for pregnant woman? Pretend they aren’t there! Park far away, take the stairs, walk to the store if you can. All those little steps can add up. If you’re not much of a runner, you can still go for a walk. I find if I have a destination in mind (e.g. store, park, a friend’s house) it makes the walk less boring.
2. Get a step counter
I used a step counter last time I was pregnant, and I just got a new one to use this time around. It doesn’t really matter what kind you get. They are all great motivators. Yes, you may look a little silly as you pace around the kitchen to get your goal of 10,000 steps, but it’s a lot better than just hanging out on the couch. I find I don’t sit as long, and I always end up going for that extra run or walk so I achieve my goal.
3. Do squats
I remember reading an article last pregnancy that said that woman who do a lot of squats during pregnancy will have a fast labor. I don’t know if there have been any actual, peer-reviewed studies on it, but I did have a fast labor. According to Pregnancy Exercise, squats help prepare for labor and strengthen your pelvic floor which is good for giving birth. So, whenever you have a free moment, start squatting! You can try doing it every commercial break if you’re watching TV or at the beginning and end of a nice, long walk.
4. Break it up
The one problem I run into this time around is that I don’t have as much free time as my previous pregnancy. Why? Oh, there’s just a toddler running around that I have to entertain. I often break up my workouts into 10 minute segments. I start with 10 minutes because I know I can always spare 10 minutes. Then, I find that I usually can fit in 10 more and 10 more after that. And, if you only get to 10 minutes one day, it’s certainly better than no minutes!
5. Make it easy
How many times have you thought about exercising only to forget about it because you didn’t feel it was worth the hassle? Make it easy! Lay your workout clothes out the night before or just put them on first thing in the morning (at least they are comfortable). Make free weights readily available or write down a list of exercises (here are 7 to get started from LifeHack) you can do anywhere, anytime (Don’t have weights? Try these DIY dumbbells).
6. Be active with your kid(s)
Like I mentioned before, thanks to my lovable toddler, my free time has gone out the window. Instead of spending money on a gym membership with a sitter or trying to squeeze a workout in during a non-existent nap, be more active with your kids. Walk around the mall, walk around the zoo, try the monkey bars at the park (or don’t… seriously, be careful haha), race your kids in the yard, have a jumping contest. The bonus of staying active with your kids… your kids will love it!
7. Don’t forget the Kegels!
There are times during your pregnancy where all you’ll want to do is take a seat and relax. Well, that’s the perfect time to do your kegel exercises! Apparently women who do kegel exercises have “easier” births, relatively speaking. So, after a long, active day of running around with your kids, take a seat, put your feet up, relax… and practice your kegels! You can find the benefits of kegels and how to do them over at American Pregnancy.