While pregnant, Sarah Manes, 34, kept doing what she loves most--yoga. This District of Columbia resident just did it more frequently, adding a class or two a week, including teaching one. "Yoga made me feel so much better--I slept better and felt less stressed," says Manes, whose son, Henry, is now 2. She also continued to run, walk her dog and strength train, just at a lower intensity level. In the weight room, Manes shifted to seated exercises--her trainer's suggestion--during her twice-weekly, 30-minute workouts.
"Women who stay fit and strong during pregnancy are much better able to get through the 1 to 3 hours of pushing that is sometimes required to deliver a baby," says Abraham Shashoua, M.D., chairman of the division of obstetrics and gynecology, Women's Hospital at Weiss Memorial in Chicago. With her modifications, Manes stayed strong throughout her pregnancy and was back at the gym two weeks postpartum and leading a yoga class four weeks after Henry was born. "I am certain that the combination of activities led me through a relatively uneventful pregnancy," she says.