What Nobody Tells You About Exercising While Pregnant

Photo: Ashley Chmelka

Fitness and healthy living are a huge part of my life. I love to eat well and exercise all the time, so once I found out that I was pregnant, healthy living wasn’t something I was willing to give up or compromise on.

As much as I'd hoped it would, exercising pregnant doesn't look the same as exercising not pregnant. I’ve had to learn to modify my regimen a bit to adjust for my energy levels and changing body. Here are some helpful suggestions that I’ve learned along the way. If you, too, are pregnant—or you're hoping to get pregnant sometime in the very distant future—let my lessons guide you!

1. Go easy on your core.

Diastasis recti is a condition in which the large abdominal muscles separate after pregnancy. This is caused by overworking the abdominal muscles during pregnancy, so I've worked very closely with instructors to find out what core exercises I should do—and if I should do them at all. For the most part, I stick with planks (usually on my forearms) and side planks, sometimes modified to my knees depending on how long I'm holding them for. I also do modified push-ups, and work on a pilates megaformer.

2. Listen to your body.

You don’t have to be a pregnancy expert to figure this one out, but listening to your body is key when it comes to both your workouts and your healthy lifestyle. Do what feels right, and only do what you can handle without overdoing it. For example, the other day I was in class and everyone started doing burpees. I attempted to do a less intense burpee by walking down to plank position and walking up to standing jump (versus jumping down and up), but my body just didn't feel right, so I switched to body-weight squats.

Photo: Ashley Chmelka

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3. Get to class early.

Carve out a little extra time to get to class early and talk to your instructor about your pregnancy and any modifications they recommend for the class. Instructors aren’t mind-readers, so if you don’t let them know what's going on, they can’t help keep you and the little nugget safe!

4. Stay hydrated, and keep healthy snacks on hand.

This one is key for me. I’ve had to get creative with my water to get myself to drink plenty, so I’ve been adding fresh fruits. Cucumbers, watermelon, lemon, and strawberries. are my favorites. For snacks, I don’t leave the house without a few easy-to-pack snacks on hand. My favorites lately are Wella bars, which are organic and a good source of protein, and raw almonds.

5. Get plenty of sleep.

Even sneak in a nap if you're able! I personally haven't been that tired in my pregnancy thus far—I’ve actually been pretty wired (as crazy as that sounds)—so I’ve been working on getting my tail in bed without my phone nearby by 10:30 p.m. I have hard time napping, so I take a good 20 minutes during the day to just sit and chill. It works wonders.

Don't overdo it, and be careful with starting new workouts or activity that you didn't do before pregnancy. I tried to add running into my routine, and my body did not react well to it. I experienced some cramping like pains that I never had before, which was really scary. The moment I switched to incline walking on a treadmill, the pain went away. My body wasn't used to running, as I didn't do it much before getting pregnant. So I'd recommend that you, too, stick to the workouts you did pre-pregnancy. Keep in mind, everyone's body is different. So do what feels right for you! If your body responds well to a new activity, awesome. Keep it up. Good luck!

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