Staying Fit While Expecting
Exercise During Pregnancy
[This is also an episode of Friday Free Talk on The Tranquility Tribe Podcast on iTunes. Listen here.]
Hey Tranquility Tribe! Thanks for joining us for this episode of the Tranquility Tribe podcast! Today, Hehe spoke to fitness expert Erika Tsipouras about the benefits that pre- and postnatal exercise can have for your body as well as useful tips that will help you stay confident and motivated during and after your pregnancy.
So who is Erika?
Erika is a certified personal trainer and the founder of Fit and Fearless, a business that allows her to channel her passion for helping other people discover the best versions of themselves. Originally the owner of a dry cleaning business, Erika found her love for fitness when a friend introduced her to a workout and nutrition program that enabled her to feel healthier, stay on top of her fitness goals, and even stop taking the medications that she was on. After recognizing the life-changing effects that improved fitness can provide, she wanted to find a way to allow others to have the same experience.
What does exercise have to do with pregnancy?
Pre- and postnatal fitness looks a lot different than fitness without a tiny human, so it’s especially important to speak to knowledgeable practitioners such as Erika and to pay attention to your body throughout the process! When done correctly, exercising while pregnant can help to alleviate back pain and improve your ability to sleep (yes please!). Prenatal exercise can also make your birth easier by opening up your pelvis and preparing your pelvic floor (for more information about pelvic floor health, check out episode 4 of the Tranquility Tribe podcast with pelvic floor therapist Madison White!). And believe it or not, research has shown that habits formed during pregnancy are more likely to stick, so working out while pregnant may make it easier to keep up with your exercise regimen after your birth.
Postnatal workouts can also have their benefits – and not only for you, but for your tiny human, too! After pregnancy, your body will be different and may take some getting used to. Exercising can help you learn more about your new body and get back to feeling like yourself after supporting two lives for nine months instead of just one. Sticking to a workout plan can also help you maintain a healthy lifestyle and be a good role model for your new little one. However, don’t forget to take it slow. Hehe and Erika recommend waiting at least six to eight weeks after your birth before working out, and sometimes longer if you had any complications. It’s always important to consult with your doctor or midwife before starting to work out again.
And there’s no need to rush! Give your body time to heal from the amazing feat that it just accomplished before jumping back in, and then take it slow. The first couple of days are always going to be difficult, but the more you do and the longer you stick to your plan, the better you’ll feel.
Now what about those body shamers?
For some reason, people always feel entitled to comment on your body during and after pregnancy. But guess what – it’s none of their business! Your pregnancy story is yours and yours alone, and YOU are the only person that knows what you need most. As with all aspects of your pregnancy, pre- and postnatal exercise is entirely about what you and your baby need and not what other people are doing or tell you that you should do.
So how can you help combat those feelings of uncertainty and even envy that may stem from someone else’s comments or abilities? Set realistic expectations for yourself and internalize the idea that many body shamers are proposing completely unattainable ideals for your body image. You just grew a tiny human – be proud of yourself and allow yourself all of the time and support that you need to recover. And draw from the strength of your village! Surround yourself with other people who are going through the same experiences as you are (such as a mommy workout group!) rather than putting yourself in a situation where you’ll unrealistically compare yourself to someone who is at a completely different time in their life.
One more piece of advice from Erika – give yourself a break! Growing and birthing a tiny human is an incredible achievement that will cause your body to change in many ways. Be patient with yourself, find support from people who care about your wellbeing, and be proud of the body that you’ve earned!
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Written by our Guest Blogger, Kyra Shreeve. She is a Biochemistry, Health Policy, and Music student at Brandeis University.