I've always been in relatively good shape, but I never realized just how good of shape you need to be in prior to becoming pregnant. Getting in shape is hard. There's no two ways about it. You have to put in a lot of work even to be semi fit. Today I'm going to talk about why it's so important to get into shape prior to becoming pregnant and also share with you 3 easy ways to get your body into pre-baby making shape. My recommendation is to start at least 3 months out from when you want to try and conceive. You may not get pregnant the first month you try and instead of becoming disappointed you can look at this as a good thing! You'll have more time to get into even better shape before getting pregnant :)
Why start now?
You may be asking yourself, "Why would I start working out now before I want to get pregnant?" First off, ask yourself if you want to workout during your pregnancy. If the answer is "yes" then you'll need to start doing your exercise of choice at least 3 months prior to getting pregnant for a better chance of sticking with your workout throughout your pregnancy. If you don't have a workout plan that is consistent before getting pregnant, it's going to be about 1,000 times harder to start one while pregnant. Currently, the American Pregnancy Association says that if you are already exercising, you will probably be able to keep up with your routine and adapt it as you grow. For example, say you are a runner (like myself). You are strongly encouraged to have been in the habit of running before conceiving rather than starting a running program during pregnancy. As with anything related to pregnancy, you may want to check with your doctor first before starting an exercise regime.
Also keep in mind that the healthier you are before conceiving, the better off your baby will be. There is a direct correlation between the mother's health and her baby's health. You want to give your little embryo the best home possible and being fit will definitely contribute to this.
Below I've listed 3 simple ways to get into shape prior to becoming pregnant. Keep in mind that it is important to do all 3 of these exercises several times a week, even while pregnant. You will thank your pregnant self later if you start your fitness routine pre-pregnancy. Not only will you have better stamina to keep up with the demands of growing a baby, but you will also feel better both physically and mentally if you keep up a regular fitness routine.
3 easy and necessary ways to get into shape pre-baby
1. Core strengthening exercises: It is absolutely essential to have good core strength before getting pregnant. Not only will having a strong core help with lower back pain during pregnancy, but it also helps with better balance and posture throughout the course of pregnancy. With each of my pregnancies, I went into them with a good core strength base and after each baby arrived my stomach shrank back to it's original size within about 2 weeks. I do think that having a strong core helped with this.
2. Yoga: Yoga has so many different benefits. Personally, I think the most important reason for starting a yoga routine is to help with labor later on. There are several different yoga poses that will help open up your hips which will prepare your body for giving birth. I did hot yoga prior to becoming pregnant so I was familiar with the poses but stopped going due to the extreme heat involved with this type of practice. I didn't start doing regular yoga poses until well into my second trimester and even at that I only practiced a few poses, but I do attribute those poses to a faster and more efficient delivery for my second child. I didn't do any sort of yoga the first time around and my labor and delivery were very different and not nearly as easy. If you make yoga a regular part of your fitness routine before getting pregnant, you won't go into it blindly later on and you'll feel more comfortable with the poses. Yoga also helps stretch the body which feels so incredible while you're pregnant, especially during the third trimester when hard exercise is the last thing you may want to be doing. Yoga poses help with circulation and decrease swelling, especially in those last few months of pregnancy.
3. Cardiovascular Exercises: These exercises are any exercises that get your heart rate up and basically make you sweat. You can do any number of cardiovascular workouts but the best cardiovascular workout for pregnant women is still considered simple walking. Walking is very low impact which is extremely important when considering your joints. Walking can also be done anywhere. All you need is a pair of shoes. Other popular exercises for pregnant women that are no or low impact on the joints are swimming, elliptical machine, and cycling. Try to get in at least 30 minutes of one of these exercises on most days of the week. You don't have to work hard, just enough to get your heart rate up. The old recommendation stated that your heart rate shouldn't go above 140 beats per minute but new guidelines suggest that you use the talk test. To use the talk test you should be able to workout and feel winded but still be able to carry on a conversation.
Not only will starting an exercise routine pre-pregnancy help you throughout your pregnancy, but it will also help you after you have the baby. The benefits of exercise extend throughout your recovery period. I attribute my fast recovery with both babies to the fact that I exercised throughout my pregnancies. I bounced back to my normal self almost as soon as I had my babies. I also think that because I exercise currently, it has helped tremendously with my energy levels and keeping up with the kids. It's helped with the sleep deprivation, the toddler chasing and my overall well being and how I concur the day. I'm not sure where I'd be without exercise today, probably a walking zombie because having a baby and a toddler is no joke!