By Sarah Caracciolo
DHAC Assistant Fitness Director
By now, things are seemingly smooth sailing and being pregnant is a breeze! Well, sort of! As all the woes of the first trimester are far behind me, I have seen my energy return. But now I’m getting bigger too! At nearly 6 months pregnant, it’s getting tougher to maneuver around and baby sure tells me when he’s not happy with something I am doing. Although I am still exercising daily, I’ve had to make some serious adjustments. Here are some examples of what makes exercise a bit more “do-able” for me:
1. Strength Training-I currently lift 4 days per week. Back in my pre-pregnant days, I would push myself to lift that extra heavy weight and boost my metabolism. Now, with my oxygen demand and blood volume changes, that is just not feasible or healthy for me OR my baby boy. I simply lightened the load by about 40-50% and keep my repetitions around 10-12. This will help maintain my strength and allow for a faster return when I begin my post-baby exercise.
2. Cardio-Since I had to lower my weight training level, I have most definitely seen a change in my metabolism. It went DOWN! Ugh, not what I was expecting. That said, I am super careful about what I eat. It is never a good idea to lose weight while being pregnant, but there is great importance in managing your weight gain.
Cardiovascular exercise was never my favorite, but I still did it for my heart health and to maintain a healthy body weight. The most important change I made here was watching my heart rate. I keep it below 140 bpm. I have had to eliminate my crazy fast sprints in my spin class and hung up my running sneakers…for now! Because I am now carrying more weight, it is a bigger demand on my body to do high-impact plyometric moves so I have made them all low impact (keeping one foot on the ground at all times).
3. FlexibilityAt this point, stretching has become my best friend! This is the one component my body my body enjoys. It de-stresses me, relaxes me AND my boy, and it is easing the pain in my lower back. Of course I am finding that my range is getting smaller and smaller due to my ever-growing belly, but that is only temporary!
The one modification that is important with stretching is to be careful with OVER stretching. Sometimes your body can give the illusion of being more flexible than it actually is due to all the hormones preparing you for labor. Stay in that moderate comfortable range.
All of these modifications sometimes seem a bit depressing, especially after working so hard to get there. Just remember, they are all temporary and will help you return to that pre-pregnant fitness level. No matter what, don’t stop exercising! If you’re doctor has given you the green light to continue your training, just keep going and make those modifications along the way. You’ll be happy you did come labor, delivery, and ultimately your triumphant return to fitness!