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Health and Happiness, Motherhood

Healthy Pregnancy (Even When You’re Overweight) Series: The Importance of Exercise

 

Let’s talk about prenatal exercise and having a healthy pregnancy.  We don’t want to do it, nor do we have time.  So why is it important?  Well, it helps us grow closer to baby, develop our strength for labor, feel energetic and confident, and decreases pregnancy pains.  So why not?

The past few weeks have been a bit crazy. My little boy has gotten sick, third trimester back pain has developed, and life just has not been easy. I haven’t been getting very much sleep because of the amazing Restless Leg Syndrome that has begun to creep into my legs at night, and of course, this makes eating well very difficult. I am craving everything! I am eating everything in sight!

My fix for this? Well, it’s not so much of a fix as a temporary problem solver. I have started to exercise…..gasp! Yes, exercise. Okay, when I say exercise I mean like light activity, but hey, that’s still something! I have been riding a stationary bike for 15 to 30 minutes every few days. I have picked up a nightly yoga practice. I have been running after my little boy more often. Overall, my goal has been to just move more.

At first, this worked well. I felt better. I was eating well. I had a little more energy. I was getting tons of stuff done around the apartment…..until my Restless Leg Syndrome began to occur. Soon, I was eating at night since I wasn’t able to sleep. I would arise from my bed of torture, walk in place, stretch while sitting on a pillow to support my back, and then, grabbing a quick snack. At first, it was one snack. One snack turned into 3 muffins. Three muffins turned into a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. That peanut butter turned into anything I could get my hands on….and then some.

So, after sitting around feeling exhausted from 4 hrs of sleep a night and guilty from my nightly snack addiction, I decided it was time to exercise. Maybe it will help…

It did help! I have been exercising a few times a week and I have noticed that I have slept a little bit longer and have wanted to snack less at night. It’s because my body is moving more instead of lying around on the couch all day. I am able to stretch farther, and my back pain is less than it was. Now, I am still 34 weeks preggers so I am going to have back pain and all of the other evil symptoms that come along with the end of pregnancy, but I am finding that when I exercise, my symptoms are bearable.

I am also feeling more capable of building this little human inside of me and feeling more confident because I am building muscles. Towards the end of pregnancy, it can be hard to find the time and energy (especially with a 2 year old) to find time to exercise. But it is so important! It helps build up our endurance, our strength, and our confidence for birth! Every time I exercise now, I feel like I am preparing for the big day.

Remember, you don’t have to be doing much! Ten minutes here and there throughout the day is perfectly fine. Try different activities and prenatal workouts to reach different areas. Try out different exercises that help you connect with your baby while you are exercising. I know that since I have a toddler it has been harder to take time to connect with this new little guy inside of me. When I make the time, I feel like I’m building up a relationship between us.

Exercise to release any pain that you are feeling. Do stretches and yoga to strengthen the areas of your body that may be hurting because of your growing belly. Strengthen your legs with squats and lunges to prepare to push that baby out. Do some arm curls and build those biceps! You’ll need them when you are in labor to hold onto the bed rails or punch your husband for looking at you wrong…haha! Think of this time as your moment to prepare for the big day!

Think it’s too late so why bother? Well, I haven’t been doing much exercise throughout this pregnancy. My first pregnancy was so much different. I wanted to feel healthy so I ate healthy and exercised daily. When I had my first, I weighed about 10 pounds less than I did pre-pregnancy! Well, that’s not going to happen this time, but I’m okay with that. I have realized that the whole pregnancy does not have to be a bust. I can still work out some and start building my muscles back up. Whatever I do now will only help me accomplish a fitter and healthier body after baby is born. Plus, exercising and building my muscles now have made me feel less crabby, more energized, and more productive…..which I haven’t felt much of the past few months. Exercising has made this pregnancy much more bearable.

So stop making excuses with me and grab a dumb bell….or water bottle…or whatever your little muscles can handle. You will build up. Any choices, no matter how far along in your pregnancy you are, will help you build a healthy body to house your baby and a body prepared to take on the world after baby is born. You are gonna need that strength! Don’t give up, guys. If you just don’t feel like exercising, do a little just to prevent back and hip pain. Exercise can definitely help and make a miserable pregnancy just a little more tolerable. So jump on that bike or push play on that Youtube prenatal workout, and let’s do it! Feel that incredible pregnancy power!

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