If you’ve been on social media recently, you may have noticed a new trend: No, not Dad Bods! Though it’s fun to see hot celebrities in their swim trunks. The trend I’m talking about is Pregnancy Abs.
What? I had a patient ask me the other day about exercising so that she could look like the models on Instagram with tiny tummies and well defined abdominal muscles.
I had to take a deep breath and pause to consider the pressure all women feel to look a certain way, and now in pregnancy there are some very unrealistic and potentially harmful messages about not gaining weight so that you can look good in a social media post.
As a women’s health provider, I want your tummy and your baby to grow! All of us in the OB/GYN community want you to have a healthy baby, not well-defined abdominal muscles. I read about this from Rachel Zarrell’s post with photos of pregnant women with baby bumps and defined abs via BuzzFeed
Let Go of Comparisons
While I love seeing Olympic Athletes, fitness instructors and people who are naturally fit and who also happen to be pregnant with healthy, and fabulous baby bumps, let’s get real here! You are nurturing a new life and that takes a lot of work and energy and any exercise is good exercise. Go for healthy, not for fabulous selfies!
Your Body is Beautiful!
If you’re not doing positive affirmations about yourself right now, then today is the day to start! Repeat this to yourself every morning when you wake up (yes, even when you’re peeing for the 43rd time) that your body is beautiful. Also repeat every night before you fall asleep: I’m a healthy, beautiful pregnant mom! I’m nurturing my baby and this is lovely.
The fact is, we all need to feel good about ourselves, especially when our bodies are changing in ways that are surprising and sometimes alarming. Stretch marks, swollen feet, acne….ok, I’ll stop there.
Exercise to Feel Good
If you are already exercising, great! Continue to sweat. If not, make sure to start slowly. Begin walking for 10 minutes five days a week. As your body strengthens, walk every day, and increase the duration to 40 – 60 minutes each day.
Making Adjustments: Exercise Tips
Exercising while pregnant requires you to pay close attention to your body. Your hormones are fluctuating and your body is behaving differently to accommodate the growing child.
- If you’re out of breath, decrease the intensity. You may not be able to work out as intensely as you did before you were pregnant.
- Skip the interval training – try switching out intensity for duration. Longer, moderate workouts may be better than short, intense workouts if you’re out of breath.
- Pregnancy kicks your sweat glands into overdrive. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
- Once you reach your 5th month, avoid exercises that require you to lie on your back, like crunches. The weight of your stomach puts pressure on your spine, decreasing blood flow to you and your baby.
Looking to mix it up?
Exercising while pregnant doesn’t have to be boring! There are a number of exercises that are great for pregnant women. Pick your favorite, or feel free to switch things up if you’re looking for some variety.
Great exercises include:
- Walking: A post-dinner walk around the neighborhood can be the perfect way to unwind.
- Cycling: Indoor and outdoor cycling are both great options.
- Hiking: Get some fresh air while climbing hills. Natural variation in paths strengthens your legs even more.
- Yoga: Stretching out your limbs and joints feels great, and the relaxation aspect of yoga can be very soothing.
- Swimming: Many pregnant women enjoy swimming because it relieves the weight of their stomachs. Lap swimming is a great low-impact cardio option.
- Low-impact aerobics: Joining a fitness class at your local gym is a great way to meet people. If you prefer to exercise in privacy, instructive videos are a great way to get your sweat on!
Best to Skip
- Horseback riding
- Downhill skiing
- Rock climbing
- Scuba diving
- Any exercise which could cause you to fall. As your baby and stomach grow, your center of balance changes.
Please remember to Love Yourself, Your Body and Your Baby Every Day.
If you’re looking for more information on Pregnancy, check out my Personal Guide to Pregnancy