March 26, 2017

What to Expect Before You Are Expecting

I have worked with dozens of woman who were pregnant or became pregnant while working with me.  I have always been interested in pre/post natal fitness, and over the year have taken CEU courses, researched best practices, etc. so I was positive I was providing my clients with the most accurate information and programming in order for them to have the healthiest pregnancy they could.  All of the articles I have read and advice I have given, you think I would have been 100% prepared for my own pregnancy...21 weeks in I am here to tell you that I don’t think you can ever be 100% be prepared for the changes your body goes through during your first pregnancy.  Especially if you have always been fit, going from having complete control over your body and looking a certain way for the majority of your life to pretty much having no control over what your hormones do is a hard adjustment.  These changes certainly aren’t permanent, but they can feel like it.   There are, however, some things you do have control over…

The 3 things you should know before you get pregnant:

  1. The healthier you are, the easier your pregnancy will be.  Yes, there are certain genetic components and complications that occur during pregnancy that we have no control over, but, going into your pregnancy the healthiest and fittest you can possible be is going to help you tremendously. From what I have seen in my years of fitness coaching and my own personal experience, the women who eat very clean and who exercise consistently through strength and cardiovascular training prior to getting pregnant seem to have an easier time when it comes to staying active throughout their pregnancy and have less cravings.  Some foods should be avoided and exercise modifications are needed, but all in all, you can continue everything you were doing prior to getting pregnant.  This means a healthy weight gain (20-30 pounds for most women), an easier delivery, and a quicker recovery/bounce back post partum. 
  2. You ARE NOT eating for two.  This is a common mistake women make and although you do need extra calories throughout your pregnancy, you are not eating for another person.  Now obviously, it is important to listen to your body, but a general rule of thumb for eating during pregnancy is: first trimester you do not need any extra calories; second trimester you need an additional 300-350 calories per day; third trimester you need an additional 500 calories per day.   If you are extremely active like me (I am still working out 6 days a week), your calorie intake might fluctuate based on the workout you performed that day.  I eat exactly the same as I did prior to getting pregnant.  Second trimester I have added an additional snack to my daily eating.  Sure, there are some days I am starving (usually leg day and a hard HIT workout day).  On those days, I listen to my body and eat a little more but I am not eating junk for those extra calories.  When I say more calories they are coming from kale chips or an extra serving of natural peanut butter, not junk.
  3. Exercise is essential.  Being active before and during pregnancy is important for overall health and fitness of you and the baby.  Exercising throughout your pregnancy can help alleviate a lot of the common problems associated with pregnancy such as constipation, hemorrhoids, varicose veins, water retention/swelling, and back pain. In addition, exercise helps to give you more energy (you will need it), sleep better, elevate your mood, and prepares your body for childbirth.  You can do pretty much everything you did prior to getting pregnant (other than things you should avoid such as skating, horseback riding, etc.).   I am still rocking out HIT workouts 3 days a week and lifting 3 days a week.  As my pregnancy has progressed, I have had to modify some exercises (burpees, push ups, core work, etc) but for the most part I can really do everything I did before which goes back to my first point that having a solid fitness base prior to getting pregnant is key to being and staying fit throughout pregnancy.  

Above all, know that despite the hormones, uncontrollable body changes, and unforeseen hurtles you might experience; this is a time to celebrate your body.  When you start to get down on yourself, remember, you are growing another human inside of you!  Most of the things you experience during pregnancy will eventually go away post partum.  Staying active and eating well will help to ensure you are feeling your best throughout your 9 month journey.

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