Staying fit while you’re pregnant, and losing weight after the baby comes, can seem like a daunting task.
But with a plan and some achievable goals to get you through your pregnancy, you can stay healthy and fit.
Exercise can be beneficial to any pregnancy as long as you listen to your body and your doctor.
Amanda Sparkes, a former spin class instructor and gym enthusiast from Dartmouth, N.S., found she was able to continue her regular activities until she was five and a half months into her pregnancy.
When she experienced dizziness serious enough to warrant a visit to the hospital, she had to change her exercise program. Sparkes says it was hard to accept that her body was encountering new limitations. “At that point I started walking. I went for walks until I was about seven months pregnant,” says Sparkes.
But then the stress on her body forced her to stop for the remaining weeks of her pregnancy. The stress was brought on by the loosening of the ligaments in your hips, which is your body’s way of assisting you for upcoming labour.
Daniela Freitas, clinic manager and treatment plan co-ordinator for Shape Health and Wellness Centres in Toronto, says that low-impact exercise is best for pregnant women, such as walking, swimming and using a stationnary bike.
“Regular, safe exercise will assist with all of the symptoms of pregnancy, as well as giving the woman the strength, endurance and stamina for the delivery process,” says Freitas.
Once the baby comes is when most women find fitness becomes difficult. Sparkes says she tires more easily since the birth of her son in early June, and has found finding the time to go to the gym difficult with a newborn.
“I was in great shape before I got pregnant and now it feels like I have so far to go to get back there,” says Sparkes.
Freitas says that a common mistake new moms make is to do too much, too fast. She says getting clearance from your doctor is important before you start a post-natal exercise program, and to give yourself at least four to six weeks of rest after birth.
She also says splitting up exercise into managable sections is important for new moms, because time can be hard to find. Breaking up 20 minute sections throughout the day for exercise can be helpful.
“The most important factor is that the exercise is both feasible and enjoyable, while still increasing your heart rate,” says Freitas. “Increasing your motivation and desire to stick with your new routine.”
Sparkes is taking things slow with long afternoon walks as she finds her way back to her former self, but stays positive about her journey.
“Breast feeding is the best way to help bring your body back into pre-pregnancy shape,” says Sparkes. “Add a little exercise and I’ll be back in shape in no time.”