FITNESS IN THE FIRST TRIMESTER
BY TRISHA ENRIQUEZ
There isn’t always a ton of clarity around exercise during the first trimester and of course, you should always speak to your doctor first about any questions you might have when it comes to any physical activity. My hope here is to provide you with some guidelines around what you can be doing in the first trimester … and let’s be honest, nausea and fatigue might just be kicking your a$$ so the idea of exercise is likely the last thing you’re thinking about. Nonetheless, here is the info so that when you’re feeling like you want to get that growing baby bump moving you are equipped and ready to go!
But before we get into it, you should first take time to …
Educate yourself on what the “core” really is. It’s not just your abs; in fact, the true core includes the diaphragm, the pelvic floor, the transversus abdominus and the multifidus. Without taking a deep dive into the physiology, just know they all play a huge role in pregnancy and birth supporting your spine, pelvis and help to hold your organs in place.
Take time to understand how your body is changing and learn what to expect. A growing baby can increase strain on the low back, pelvic floor and your abdominal wall. Hormones not only toy with our mood, having us want to kill our hubbies one second to loving them the next, but hormones also impact joint stability. All of this is coupled with a change in our posture as many of us try to counteract the growing bump by thrusting our hips or tucking our tailbone.
Make an appointment with a pelvic floor physiotherapist. These registered health care providers can make your pregnancy journey a smooth one by helping with any aches and pains, assisting with proper posture, optimizing pelvic floor health and of course, helping to prepare you for delivery! And if you’re expecting baby #1, don’t let anyone tell you it’s a walk in the park … it’s not!
Okay so you’ve considered the above, now what? Well pregnancy is not the time to start training for a set of 6-pack abs or to take up a new sport or activity. Exercise during the first trimester is based on practicing proper alignment/posture, breathing (from your diaphragm) and movements that are restorative and support your growing baby bump.
Go ahead and walk, swim and even dance! Low impact cardio and even water aerobics is absolutely fine in the first trimester. No surprises here so get moving!
This is so key during pregnancy, even in the first trimester. Stretching and release work can help with everything from keeping your alignment in tact, helping to ease low back pain and supporting optimal function of your core.
Lifting weights get the green light too, but avoid going heavy … this is not the time to be hitting your PR (personal record) with your squat! Opt for slow and controlled movements. If you want, consider resistance bands or bodyweight movements. My top 3 exercise recommendations while pregnant include:
- The Bridge
- The Clam
- The Squat
If you already practice any of the above, then keep it up! Prenatal classes are usually offered and can even give you a great opportunity to meet other expectant mothers in your community.
Lastly, you should always stop exercising if you:
- feel queasy or dizzy
- get too hot
- feel dehydrated
- experience any vaginal discharge, bleeding, abdominal or pelvic pain
Listen mamas, pregnancy is different for everyone. Fatigue typically gets the best of us (especially in the first 12 weeks), so listen to your body and do what you can and when you can. Don’t overdo it. I worked out during my pregnancy, but modified a lot of my workouts to low-impact bodyweight movements and did way more walking in those 40 weeks than I ever did before. It felt right for my body at the time and I felt good. The best rule of thumb i
s to use the talk test during all forms of exercise – that means you should be able to carry on a normal conversation while engaging in the activity.
Lastly, don’t get pressured by some of the images you see on social media when you see pregnant women doing Crossfit or running marathons, just focus on YOU, because YOU (and only you) knows your body best! Seriously, take it slow because before you know it, you’ll have a little mini me by your side begging to work out with you. I tell you now, workouts will never be the same, but I can’t picture doing it any other way!
Trisha is a mother to mother fitness and nutrition coach from Toronto, Canada. Visit her site NO TUMMY MOMMY and Instagram @notummymommy for coaching, motivation, programs and the cutest mama and mini workout pics.