Feeling frenzied all the time can take a toll on your fertility. Here’s how you can chillax and boost your odds of baby-making success.
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A an hour of cardio usually flies by for me at the gym, thanks to my secret motivational strategy: watching "Law & Order" reruns on the club's TV. I hop on the elliptical machine as the opening credits roll, and before I know it, Sam Waterston is finishing his closing argument to the jury. At least, that was the case before I got pregnant.
Between childbirth classes, doctor’s appointments, shopping for baby gear and—oh yeah—a job and other regular life stuff, what mom-to-be has time to exercise? Actually, you do. “Thirty minutes is all you need for an effective workout,” says Susan Hoffman, a trainer and prenatal fitness specialist at Boca Raton Life Time Athletic Club in Boca Raton, Fla.
That ruffled swim cap can stay in grandma’s closet because this water exercise program is anything but old-fashioned. “This is for a person who wants a more challenging aqua workout,” says trainer and fitness educator Sara Kooperman, who developed her nationally known Water in Motion program that incorporates yoga, Pilates and dance moves after she injured her back in a skiing accident.
A tense neck, sore back, twinges in your hips, throbbing feet—when you’re pregnant, aches and pains are just part of the deal, right? Not necessarily. “These problems may be the norm in our population today, but that wasn’t always the case,” says Katy Bowman, M.S., a biomechanist in Ventura, Calif., and creator of the Aligned and Well DVD series. “Pregnant women today suffer more than they did 100 years ago.”
Miraculous changes happen to your body in each trimester of your pregnancy —but each phase presents new challenges, too.
Walking is the one workout that suits pregnant women of all different fitness levels. It’s as gentle or as challenging as you need it to be. It requires no investment (all you really need is a good pair of shoes and a water bottle). Plus, you can do it nearly anywhere, anytime. Excuses like “I hate the gym” or “I’ve never exercised before” just won’t fly.
When you're pregnant, the payoffs for developing strong abdominal and pelvic-floor muscles are plentiful. “These muscles are a pregnant woman’s best friend,” says Julie Tupler, R.N., creator of Diastasis Rehab in New York City and author of Maternal Fitness: Preparing for a Healthy Pregnancy, an Easier Labor, and a Quick Recovery (Fireside).
As a mom-to-be, you have some experience carrying around extra weight. Your expanding baby bump is proof of that. But you’ll soon be faced with the daily task of toting your growing newborn—and all her gear. To help prepare your body for the constant lifting and holding to come, now is the time to strengthen the muscles you’ll use most as a new mom.
Prenatal exercise doesn’t have to be grueling, complicated or boring. We rounded up our favorite workouts to help you stay active and get ready for baby. Plus, find out which foods pack the most essential nutrients (including recipes!) and which ones to avoid.
Time: 7:15 p.m. Place: The kitchen. Action: The sounds of glass shattering and a pregnant woman crying. Last week, the mug Sue made me slipped out of my fingers when I was unloading the dishwasher and fractured into three jagged pieces. This time it’s the hand-blown glass bowl Auntie Sharon gave us at our wedding. What am I going to break next?
Walking was the only exercise Corina DuBois of Monterey, Calif., did before getting pregnant. "I've always been intimidated by sports and by the machines at gyms, so I shied away from working out during my first pregnancy," says DuBois, 30, mother of Holden, 2, and Nolan, 6 months. But three months after her first delivery, she discovered Stroller Strides, a mommy-and-child stroller-based walking and toning program. "With Stroller Strides, I found I could be fit without having to be coordinated or competitive," she says.
The following is a summary of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ guidelines for exercising while pregnant:
1. In the absence of contraindications (see below), pregnant women are encouraged to engage in 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise a day on most, if not all, days of the week. (See “Don’t Exercise If ...” below.) As always, check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program.