Exercising while pregnant is…well, a lot different than it was before. My mommy friends told me stories of getting winded just by walking up a flight of stairs when they had buns in the oven, but I thought for sure they must be exaggerating. It turns out, they were not. In fact, I can’t believe they didn’t tell me exercising while pregnant was similar to strapping on a weighted body suit and attempting to dunk a basketball. It was frustrating when I first started.
I should let you know that I work out pretty intensely. A reformed cardio junkie, these days I am an avid CrossFit woman who also practices sweaty Vinyasa yoga. I ran my fastest mile 5 months ago before getting pregnant, and was also setting personal records in the weight room. About 6 weeks into my pregnancy, something became dramatically different for me during workouts. I was sucking wind after running just 400 meters and barely able to launch myself off the ground for a little jump rope. For the first 3 months I actually had to cut out jumping all together, as my breasts were so tender that it was excruciating. One morning I was so exhausted, I actually walked out of a CrossFit group class two minutes in and went back to bed. That is when I knew I would really need to start softening my workouts right along with my exercise mentality. I did some research and spoke to my doctor.
Every pregnancy is different, and it is always important to check with your doctor about what is safe for you as an individual. My doctor told me the most important thing is to listen to my body and make sure my heart rate doesn’t get so high that the baby would be deprived of oxygen. She also said it was not a good time to attempt to set any more personal records. That was music to my ears. Immediately, a literal barbell was lifted off of me as I realized I didn’t feel like lifting heavy weights and running while pregnant anyway. I enjoy exercise, but I couldn’t remember the last time I worked out exclusively for enjoyment. There was always some motivation of calorie burn or sexy abs or winning a competition that lit my athletic performance fire.
Getting the green light to exercise for pure joy led me to a routine of long walks with my dogs and yoga. Intuitively, these are what feel best for my body right now. What is motivating me now? A healthy pregnancy and an experienced nurse midwife who told me the best thing women can do for an easy labor is walk up to 5 miles every day throughout their pregnancy. “The baby will slide right out” she assured me. That is all the motivation I need.