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Should I workout when pregnant? Tips on how to stay active during pregnancy

Maintaining a fit and active lifestyle throughout pregnancy these days is talked about so often. I see social posts all the time of mamas to be working out and staying active mentioning how good they feel on the inside and to be honest i've been blown away by how so many women look on the outside.

Its rare to ever meet a mama to be these days who would rather be binge eating junk food or spending most of her time on the couch gaining tonnes of unhealthy weight.

Instead we see google searches of what types of exercises are safe during pregnancy, how to have a belly only pregnancy or can you squat and do lunges when pregnant.

The desire to be fit and healthy during pregnancy is growing and let me tell you it's totally possible.

Before falling pregnant I was a strong believer of exercise and maintaining a healthy lifestyle and that what you put inside will show on the outside. So it was something I wanted to continue. My mum and mother in law kept telling me you gotta take it easy don’t over do it, the gym is bad when you're pregnant you don’t want to harm the baby. But in actual fact all of the Doctors recommended it as I am 35 weeks pregnant with my first child while writing this and have been still able to make it to the gym, do cardio, squats and pilates and I feel amazing. Have I had to slow down and change the pace up a bit? Definitely. But that hasn’t stopped me and for most of my pregnancy I have been able to maintain most of my fitness routine which I am hoping to do til the day I give birth.

So I wanted to share with you a few of the tips I use to stay active and healthy while pregnant and hopefully I will inspire and motivate you with them too!

 1 | Get Inspired.

What inspires you? I get inspired by seeing social posts of other women who are staying fit and active during their pregnancy. Not that I’m trying to compare myself to other women, but when I see other mamas to be looking great and talking about how good they feel on the inside and have been successful during their pregnancies, I’m able to tell myself, “Well, if they can do it, then so can i!”

Wearing the right active wear, something that feels comfortable, light and supportive at the same time and that you feel great in. This is something I found quite challenging at the start of my pregnancy which inspired me to design my own. And as soon as I developed that product that ticked all of my boxes it motivated me even more to get out and be active.

I also get inspired by being outdoors, nature is a wonderful thing whether it be going for a dip down at the beach or going on a nature trail walk with a friend or simply just getting my butt to the gym (even if I didn’t feel like it) because it makes me feel excited that I am being productive and it makes me want to keep going and work even harder. The hardest thing for me was when I would put my workout off, that’s when I would begin to lose my momentum and make excuses for myself. But being surrounded by other people and seeing everyone else working out made me leave feeling way more motivated than I did when I walked in.

 2 Find a reliable gym buddy.

For me - this person is my husband, my partner in crime-  he is the type to tell me how it is.

And there may be days when you just simply cant be bothered especially in the cooler months when it is pouring down with rain and you just want to be cooped up by the heater to keep warm. But I find I am way more consistent when I am not the only person I am accountable to. Im usually the best person there is to make an excuse for myself and while it’s easy to try to throw those excuses in your accountability partner’s face, it might be beneficial to have someone in your life that knows when your excuses are just excuses, and when you actually need a break.

 3 | Find out what your limitations are. And aren’t.

When you become pregnant, I think it’s very easy for pregnant women to want to listen to other women in their lives who have all the advice in the world of what to do and what not to do and that it is dangerous to go to the gym and do strength training during pregnancy. Because what they were used to was normal when past generations were having babies, its no surprise that things within your active routine will have to adjust a bit. But becoming pregnant doesn’t automatically mean it’s time to put your feet up and relax for the next 9 months. Will you have to be more aware of pushing yourself too hard? Yes! And Will you have to change certain ways about how you stay active? Of course! But there’s no reason to stop being active while pregnant, unless you’re told by a doctor What’s important is building up a strong fitness foundation before becoming pregnant, and then doing your best to simply maintain that throughout your pregnancy. If you feel healthy, don’t allow others to tell you to stop being active. Have an open conversation with your doctor about what exercise routines you’d like to maintain throughout your pregnancy and use their “green light” as an excuse if others try to make you feel reckless for trying to maintain your routine.  

4 | Keep hydrated.

Hydration shouldn’t start by carrying your water bottle into the gym with you. When you wake up, drink a whole 250ml of water. Remember to drink plenty of water throughout your workout, even if you’re worried about having to go pee halfway though. A quick trip to the loo is worth it to maintain a healthy mama and baby throughout your pregnancy. Besides the health benefits of staying hydrated throughout the day, you will begin to feel the difference and be able to tell if you’ve had enough water or not. Save yourself the headache and carry a large water bottle with you throughout the day and calculate how many bottles you need to finish to reach your hydration goal.  

 5 | Set realistic goals.

Throughout my pregnancy, my goal was to maintain the same level of exercise that I had been able to do before pregnancy That being said, modifications had to be made along the way. As at 33 weeks my pelvic pain made it clear that I must find another way to tone my legs and core. My pilates instructor who is a physiotherapist told me that I was doing all the wrong exercises at the gym and if I continued to do them I would not be able to walk due to the the amount of pain I had in the left side of my pelvis so I was recommended to lower the amount of weight I was lifting and instead of using the stepper, cross trainer and doing lunges (all of the wrong things!) I had to increase my activity on the bike and days at pilates to strengthen my core, pelvis and legs and as a result I am now 35 weeks pregnant as I am writing this with no pain!

There are many different ways to strengthen and tone your muscles that will avoid straining and putting stress on other body parts. It is advised by doctors that if you’ve never done a particular exercise before. Pregnancy is not the time to start something new.. That’s why it’s so important to make exercise a regular part of your life before becoming pregnant.

- Emma Sango, Founder and CEO of emamaco, December 2018