The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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With a winter pregnancy, you have two workout options: bundle up to brave the elements, or head indoors. Felice Devine, an avid runner in North Greenbush, N.Y., chose the first option. “I had to prepare more for my pregnant runs, but it was so worth it,” says Devine, who wore a headlamp in the dark and Yaktrax in the snow and always carried her cellphone. “Breathing in fresh air helped me avoid falling into the winter doldrums and gave me so much energy,” she says.
Danielle Federico of San Ramon, Calif., chose workout option two: the gym. “A gym can become such a supportive community during pregnancy,” says Federico, who lifted weights, took kickboxing classes and used a stair stepper. “I met tons of people who used saying ‘Congratulations’ as an icebreaker, and I was encouraged daily with, ‘You look great!’ and ‘You’re in better shape than I am!’ After I delivered, I couldn’t wait to return.”
Whether you choose to exercise indoors or out, aim for a mix of cardiovascular exercise, such as walking, swimming or stationary cycling, and strengthening, using weights or resistance bands or by doing yoga or Pilates. .
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Take the first step “I encourage my pregnant clients to come to my studio for a workout even if they are feeling down or tired,” says Teddi Bryant, a prenatal and postnatal fitness expert and owner of Hot Mamas in Denver. “Afterward, they tell me they feel a weight has been lifted.”
Need more motivation? Think about your developing baby. “It’s definitely harder to work out when it’s dark and cold, but I told myself I was doing it for my growing baby,” says Debi Silber, the mom of four. “And I knew the more I did, the better I’d feel and the more I’d enjoy my pregnancy. I also wanted to be able to get back into my clothes and show that pregnancy doesn’t mean your body can’t be fit and sexy again!”
Don’t overdress “You get hotter when you’re pregnant,” says Bryant. Even if you’re setting out for a walk, follow the rule of thumb for running: Dress as if it’s 20 degrees warmer. Wear a wicking base layer, a long-sleeve second layer and then a vest or, if it’s particularly cold or windy, a thin jacket.
Do quickie strength workouts If you don’t have the time or energy for a full-blown workout, make it short. For example, alternate 60 to 90 seconds of squats with 30 to 60 seconds of stretching. “Sixty to 90 seconds is how long labor contractions last, so it mentally prepares you for how long you need to push yourself,” says Bryant. Do four to six sets of the squat-stretch combo.
Remember to drink When it’s cold out, you don’t sweat as much as you do in the heat, so it’s easy to forget that you need to drink plenty of water.