Back when Anne Boleyn announced her first pregnancy, physical activity was forbidden and even lifting her arms above her head was believed to be harmful to the baby! When she neared time to birth she was scuttled away to a dark room with much incense and a hot fire for her “lying in.” Thank God pregnancy doesn’t work like that anymore!
While modern pregnancy doesn’t involve stifling fires and specialized pregnancy corsets, it can still be a challenge to exercise during pregnancy in a way that is fun and comfortable. So what’s a girl to do? Here are five great ways to have a fit pregnancy:
1. Zumba for a SUPER FUN work out
The best part of Zumba is that it doesn’t feel like exercise. It’s dancing with sweat! Communicate with your instructor so you can modify the workout as needed to be a level of intensity you need/want. The routines are catchy and may come in handy when you’re a week past your due date and want to make a viral you tube video. A favorite Yoga studio, Fly & Love Yoga Lounge, offers a weekly Zumba class just south of Tyler in Flint.
2. Running for physical and mental endurance
Running is a great first and second trimester exercise and if you’ve been a consistent runner for a while, many women can continue running throughout pregnancy. It increases endurance (something you’ll need later), circulation, muscle tone, and focus. Often my clients who are marathoners will use their running as visualization during contractions. Being able to pull from all sorts of previous challenges helps you concentrate and bring muscle memory into a new experience. This can be a very powerful tool in birth. Racquet and Jog in Tyler offers a weekly group fun run if you want to exercise in a non-competitive and laid back style, which is so great for pregnancy work outs!
3. Cycling for leg strength
Cycling is perfect for honing long term leg strength, an asset not to be overlooked during labor. It improves circulation, oxygen flow, and abdominal strength. It can also help tone your pelvic floor. By cycling outdoors, you have the advantage of finding adventure, beauty, and nuance in your surroundings. Many women cycle well into their pregnancies, and after baby arrives when you return to gentle exercise, it’s a great activity to do together as a family! Elite Bicycles in Tyler can link you up with group rides of all abilities.
4. Pregnancy Yoga for complete health
This is a great place to start if you aren’t already in an exercise routine. It’s also great for the third trimester when other exercise options begin to be a bit too much. Pregnancy Yoga can be adjusted to each participant’s needs. It’s flexible and easy to pick up, geared for all body shapes and fitness levels. Many of the yoga poses are also a great way to practice labor positions, opening the pelvis and teaching your body how to move with your baby. Yoga also focuses on intentional breathing, a great skill to hone not just for pregnancy and labor, but life in general. The Gentle Yoga classes at Fly & Love are great for pregnancy, and Beth can help modify your yoga experience specifically to your pregnancy needs.
5. Swimming for late pregnancy comfort
Swimming is a perfect workout for your entire pregnancy, especially the third trimester. The water counteracts the pull of gravity and allows you to move with more freedom. Swimming improves breathing, circulation, arm and leg strength, improves flexibility, and increases endurance. As you near the end of pregnancy, swimming relieves tension, helping you to relax and be mindful of your body and your baby. For Summer pregnancies, swimming lowers your body temperature and helps fend off the oven that a summer baby brings. Tyler Tennis and Swim is a great spot for East Texas swimming!
You’re making people, which is so incredible! So pamper yourself with good health and focus. Your body will thank you, and you will be able to pull from your practice and use it to your advantage during your labor and postpartum. It doesn’t have to be an Iron Man challenge, you don’t have to be seeking a celebrity baby body. This is about you feeling good about your changing body, nourishing your mind and your baby through what makes you feel fit and empowered. Talk with your OBGYN or Midwife about what exercise is best for your body and your pregnancy, and go get with it!
Emilie Jenkins is a beekeeper-baker-cellist in Bellingham, WA where she lives with her husband and two rambunctious boys. In her off time she enjoys reading, sipping tea, and tending her urban homestead. She loves empowering women in their individual birthing experiences as a pre-certified Birth and Postpartum Doula with Nesting Birth Doula Services.