Staying active is a key component of a healthy pregnancy! Not only does exercise help manage pregnancy weight gain, but it boosts mood, eases anxiety and promotes good sleep (things we all need, especially these days!).
Research shows that women who remain active throughout pregnancy are at lower risk of gestational diabetes and hypertensive disorders. I have also found that women who engage in hip opening exercises in the third trimester have more straightforward labors and births than less flexible women. If you’ve never done yoga before, I encourage you to try prenatal yoga – it is perfectly designed to stretch and strengthen your birthing muscles while training you to quiet your mind and breath through a physically challenging experience (sound familiar?).
Finding the Time to Exercise
Whether you’re working full time or caring for other children (or both!), exercising can feel like the last thing you have time or energy for. Luckily, we live in the YouTube age and thus have a plethora of on demand videos we can do at our convenience! I’ve done all the videos listed below and can vouch for their safety. I am NOT a morning person, but in my first pregnancy I found I could roll out of bed and do a 20-30 minute video barefoot in my pajamas (in a tiny San Francisco apartment mind you) before getting ready for work. My colleague Jodi would always say “You’re glowing this morning- were you dancing with Keaira LaShae again?” What a way to start the day!
Don’t Forget about Walking!
If you’re a stay at home mom, what kids don’t love the opportunity to get outside and go for a walk with mom? There are even some “stroller friendly workouts” on YouTube that I have never tried myself but look intriguing. If you work outside the home, get creative in finding ways to add more walking in your day (park your car as far away as possible from the entrance, take the stairs instead of an elevator, get off your bus a stop early and walk the rest of the way). If you work from home, see if you can take some calls while you walk outside or use what would be your commute time to get outside and walk. Never underestimate the importance of supportive footwear while pregnant, and try a belly band if you need extra abdominal support (I used the Belly Bandit 2 in 1 band, available on Amazon).
I encourage all my clients to take at least 20 minutes before bed for a prenatal yoga video- it’s something you can do in your pajamas before collapsing into bed, and the payoff of better sleep and less aches and pains is well worth your time. Starting in the third trimester of both my pregnancies, I did the Spinning Babies Daily Essentials routine before bed as often as I could (aiming for at least 3 nights a week). I really swear by this video and credit my blessedly straightforward labors/births to the principles of body balancing and stretches discussed in the video. Best $17 I ever spent!
As always, talk to your Midwife if you have any concerns about exercise or need more advice. That’s what we’re here for- to help you feel your best and to help you set the foundation for a natural birth.
Best, Midwife Jackie
Some of My Favorite Channels and Videos:
- BodyFit By Amy – she is a fitness expert from Los Angeles who filmed prenatal and postnatal targeted videos during her 2 pregnancies. I love her approachability and positive attitude, and that her videos range in length so I could always find something for the amount of time I had. Her YouTube channel has a pregnancy playlist where you can find all her videos.
- Keaira LaShae Prenatal Cardio Dance Workout for a Fit Pregnancy – as I said, made me glow! And my husband always got a kick out of watching me dance in our living room.
- Prenatal Yoga with Laura Dutta– her infinity pool is my happy place.
- Sara Beth Yoga – has various prenatal videos, including a 20 minute bedtime routine that is great for winding down and relaxing before bed.
- Lauren Eckstrom 45min Prenatal Power Yoga “Strong as a Mother” – this is the only prenatal yoga video or class that has ever made me break a sweat. The “keep ups” are perfect training for staying calm in labor. My only critique is her use of planks- I do not recommend doing planks after 15 weeks of pregnancy (I modified by going into tabletop and doing bird dog whenever she did plank).
- If you’re an experienced yogi, you may continue your regular yoga practice in pregnancy but please be mindful of some pregnancy considerations, particularly surrounding twists, inversions, supine poses, and core work. In my pre pandemic pregnancy I continued to attend my regular yoga classes but would modify poses as needed. This website outlines the modifications/precautions well, please speak to your Midwife or a prenatal yoga instructor if you have further questions.
- Spinning Babies Daily Essentials: Activities for Pregnancy Comfort and Easier Birth – $17 purchase online video. The video is an hour long, don’t get nervous- the first 30 minutes is a wonderful discussion about body balancing and promoting optimal baby positioning through how you walk/sit/sleep. Watch it once, and then thereafter just fast forward to 30 minutes in for a 30 minute long yoga-esque routine.