Pregnancy can be an incredible process, but it can also come with some rapid changes that leave women struggling with their self-esteem. It’s essential to create a healthy environment for your growing baby, which can come with substantial weight gain and a number of physical ailments. Many expectant moms may struggle with their self-esteem, along with unpredictable mood swings due to hormonal fluctuations. So even though this period of time can be magical in many ways, it can also be extremely challenging to accept these shifts that, by and large, you have little control over.
But you can control aspects of your physical health and how you feel during your pregnancy. And arguably, one of the best ways to counter the negative symptoms associated with pregnancy is to get moving.
Although less than 5% of adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day, there are all kinds of benefits associated with exercising. That’s especially true for pregnant women, as regular exercise can often help to reduce morning sickness, constipation, back pain, and fatigue while increasing overall energy levels. What’s more, working out can assist you in your postpartum recovery.
That said, you can’t necessarily continue to partake in the high-intensity workouts you used to enjoy. Even though the five largest sports in the U.S. include football, basketball, baseball, hockey, and soccer, these popular activities aren’t recommended for moms-to-be. Still, even though adjustments will need to be made, you can (and should) still work up a sweat during pregnancy. Here are some options that are often ideal:
Yoga or Pilates
Yoga can be a great workout choice for expectant moms, as it’s low-impact while promoting greater flexibility. This can help you to alleviate pain during pregnancy or even have an easier labor. Yoga is also easy to modify, which means it’s a versatile choice throughout your pregnancy. And because many studios offer specific prenatal classes, you’ll never have to feel self-conscious about participating.
If you don’t want to melt in the summer heat like an ice sculpture (which usually lasts four to six hours, on average), you might consider a water-based workout. Swimming is often recommended for pregnant women, as it can reduce swelling and pain and improve sleep while acting as a gentle workout that keeps you cool. Since 15% of adults go swimming at least six times per year — and there may be classes for expectant mothers offered at your gym or community center — swimming can also be a great opportunity to meet other women experiencing pregnancy at the same time.
Weight training has become a more popular workout for women in recent years. But recent research has found that pregnant women needn’t shy away from strength training. One study found that the majority of pregnant women who participated in a strength training trial reported higher levels of energy and lower levels of fatigue (both mental and physical) after just one workout. Strength training is considered safe for most pregnant women, while lifting weights can allow expectant moms to actually avoid injuries during pregnancy. That said, the weight amounts lifted should be reduced and weight lifting while on one’s back should be avoided.
Just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean you have to avoid all of the physical activities you once loved. As with any aspect of your health, from dental hygiene to digestive health, it’s important to stay on top of your well being. As long as your physician says you’re good to go, you can enjoy all of the benefits of exercise throughout each trimester.