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Staying Active While Pregnant: Good for You, Good for Baby

By Jeana Lee Tahnk

When I think back to the final months of my three pregnancies, I imagine how goofy I must have looked while exercising, trying keep some semblance of muscle tone by doing whatever movements my round and unbalanced shape could tolerate.

I'm a real creature of habit, so I tried to keep my daily exercise routine intact despite the human being growing inside me. I was lucky (if you could call it that) that my "morning" sickness started about 4 p.m. each day, which allowed me to get my morning workouts in.

At the beginning, pre-big belly, my workouts didn't change that much. I alternated between jogs, interval training and resistance training, but as time progressed and the belly started popping out, I modified my workouts to ensure I wasn't doing exercises flat on my back after 20 weeks and wasn't increasing my heart rate too high. And of course, I made sure I always had water on hand.

Finding the right clothes to work out in posed its own set of challenges as well. But I simply invested in a couple of pairs of bargain maternity exercise pants and t-shirts, allowing me to continue working out comfortably without my pre-pregnancy leggings cutting off my circulation.

During the second and third trimesters, when my belly started becoming its own entity, I found myself working out to more pregnancy-specific DVDs-lightweight training, yoga, low-impact aerobics-as well as lots and lots of walking. Walking became my go-to exercise at the end for loosening up the joints, getting the heart rate up and, at the very very end, trying to kickstart the baby-coming-out process.

If I weren't such a wimp when it comes to cold water, I would have taken more advantage of having a pool in the backyard. But the times I did go in (on really, really hot days) were really nice. I can't think of any pregnant woman who wouldn't appreciate feeling weightless for a short period of time.

I definitely credit exercising throughout my pregnancies as a major factor in making postpartum recovery faster. And after having the baby, it was nice to know that underneath the extra padding, there was a toned body in there somewhere.

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