*Before beginning any exercise program, check with your OB or Midwife to make sure you have the all clear to get moving!*
You've just found out exciting news, you are going to have a baby! With that discovery comes a range of emotions, highs and lows that will continue not only for nine months of pregnancy, but also during the period after your baby is born, and for the rest of your life! To help you work towards a strong, healthy pregnancy, and to give you a head start for postpartum strength and recovery, we're starting this series to share some tips on exercising through each stage of pregnancy.
Why Exercise During the First Trimester
Whether you exercised before you were pregnant or not, the first trimester is a great time to start, and here's why:
Get A Head Start
Your baby has only just started developing, so this is the time when you'll be carrying the lightest load. As your pregnancy progresses, you'll continue to gain weight, so the best time to start is before you put on the pounds! If you started your pregnancy overweight, regular exercise is the best way to manage weight gain, since pregnancy is not the time to try a weight loss diet(you and your baby need the right nutrition to stay healthy and have a safe pregnancy).
Build Strength and Endurance
Starting exercise in the first trimester will help build strength and endurance, which can reduce or prevent common ailments and discomforts of pregnancy related to poor muscle strength and fatigue. The benefits of regular exercise throughout pregnancy are too numerous to count and starting early can help your chances of getting the most out of those benefits. Just a few of those benefits include: a decreased risk of cesarean or forceps birth, decreased risk of developing preeclampsia or gestational diabetes, and a shorter postpartum recovery period. These benefits all carry over into subsequent pregnancies, and throughout the rest of your life!
The first trimester is a time when many women experience chronic fatigue. Exercising helps to boost your energy and helps you sleep better at night. It can also help to reduce nausea, which affects many women throughout their first trimester(and sometimes into their 2nd and 3rd trimester). Exercising when you feel tired and sick can be very difficult, but if you can commit to doing even a little bit throughout the week the payoffs are well worth it.
Special Considerations For Exercising During the First Trimester
During the first trimester your body begins to produce Relaxin, which relaxes your body to help prepare for carrying a baby and to aid in the softening and opening required for birth. This also makes it easier to strain or injure yourself. By making a few changes which can be suggested by your provider and with the help of someone trained in how to exercise during pregnancy, you can modify your exercise routine easily and safely.
Callie Corless is a Birth Doula and Prenatal Fitness Instructor in the Dallas - Fort Worth Area.