By Joli Guenther, MSSW, NASM-CPTekAjaxTransform Error
Expecting our first baby at the end of November, I've been reflecting on similarities between supporting a healthy pregnancy and endurance training. Maintaining your fitness during pregnancy has enormous benefits for both mother and baby, but comes with its share of potential pitfalls. Here are a few challenges I've encountered over the past eight months and some solutions that worked for me.
Challenge 1: Overexertion: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) no longer has specific heart rate recommendations if a woman has been exercising prior to conception and is in good health. Talk to your doctor about your own health history and activity level. I was lucky enough to have a doctor who gave me a guideline of less than 180 based on my previous max heart rate and level of activity, but a new exerciser may be told to keep it under 140. You can also monitor your perceived effort, pulling back if you find yourself with difficulty talking or exceeding 6-8 on a 10 point scale.
Challenge 2: Falls and Impact: ACOG recommends avoiding sports in which there is a risk of impact or falling. For me, this meant staying away from occasional horseback rides and even performance cycling over the summer. Competitive basketball and soccer can also be risky and scuba diving should be avoided throughout pregnancy.
Challenge 3: Round Ligament Pain/Syndrome: The ligaments that support your growing uterus get an extra pull from impact activities such as running or aerobics. If you continue those during the second half of your pregnancy, you may find that a maternity support belt (here's one I loved) takes the load off and makes your activities more comfortable. This can also reduce the load on your low back, another area many women find challenging.
Challenge 4: Low Blood Pressure and Muscle Cramps: In early pregnancy your body prepares to increase its blood volume by 50%. Initially, your vascular system expands, but doesn't have the blood volume to fill that space until approximately week 28. Developing additional blood volume also leaves you in greater need of electrolytes, especially if you're working up a sweat. I experienced dizziness changing positions during workouts as well as headaches, breathlessness, and muscle cramps afterwards. Two solutions that worked for me were compression stockings and milk. Your doctor can prescribe compression stockings that will help reduce the workload for your heart. Unattractive? Yes, but early in pregnancy they were a godsend for me. If you're looking for a healthy alternative to sports beverages, milk is a natural source of electrolytes and protein, which your body needs in huge supply to fuel your workouts and grow your little one. I doubled my intake of milk to four cups per day and found my post workout complaints disappeared completely.
Keeping fit during pregnancy can be a nerve-wracking proposition and some days will be better than others. Pregnancy has increased my need for a slow warm-up and long cool-down and I never know what each day will bring until I try it. Listen to the experts, but don't forget to listen to your body. If something feels natural, it's probably okay and if it doesn't it needs a solution. Enjoy each week of your pregnancy as you get closer to meeting your new family member.
Posted by Horizon Fitness at 11/03/2009 12:10:54 PM |
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