What you are about to read is my very scientific, self-study on exercise pre- and post- pregnancy. Not really.
Disclaimer: ALWAYS consult your doctor before starting any fitness program, especially if you are pregnant.
Make sure your OB knows what exercises you are doing. Generally speaking, the rule of thumb is that you can continue doing any exercises that you were already doing pre-pregnancy, with the obvious exception to avoid contact sports and such. No dodgeball or ski jumping is recommended. Serious. I actually read that. It is also recommended to not start anything new during your pregnancy.
Truth is, this was not a scientific study at all. It wasn’t even a study. This is merely my personal observations through my two pregnancies. I have two sons. My first son I had 3 years ago and I just had my second son almost 6 months ago.
Both boys were born via cesarean section. I gained 35 pounds with each pregnancy. I ate just as healthy (or not always so healthy) with both pregnancies. I nursed both babies for about the same amount of time.
Those are my constants. The difference? My style of workout was drastically different with each pregnancy. With Baby #1, I was all cardio, all the time. Zumba, to be exact. I did the occasional strength workout and prenatal pilates about once every week or two. Maybe. But I taught anywhere from 3-5 Zumba classes per week through my pregnancy and that is it. With Baby #2, I did 3 strength training workouts per week, plus 1-2 cardio workouts, and 1-2 PiYo workouts.
Here’s the deal, this isn’t about how fast I lost the baby weight. This is about the importance of strength training, core work and the importance of having a well-rounded workout plan. (Because I know you’re all wondering, I lost the baby weight at the same rate after each pregnancy, although my body is still a work in progress after Baby #2.) Even though I was healthy and fit during pregnancy #1, after having a cesarean I realized just how much we use our core. Sounds silly to state the obvious, but the simple things like coughing, sneezing, laughing, rolling over, standing up, sitting down, going to the bathroom, shall I go on? For several weeks and even months, those simple things are very trying and painful after having a tiny human surgically removed from your abdominal cavity. With Baby #2 I made sure to do more strength training and definitely made sure to get in some good core work like prenatal Pilates and PiYo.
Although I recovered from the actual c-section fairly quickly after Baby #1, I feel like I recovered after Baby #2 a little quicker. I feel like I was able to gain my strength and stamina back quicker. I feel like I am physically stronger. I remember the day after having Baby #2, a nurse came in to my room to help me get situated in my bed. I hiked my arms up overhead, grabbed on the bed rails and pulled my body up higher onto the bed. The nurse says, “Whoa! You’ve got some strong arms!” I laughed and told her I learned my lesson after having my first cesarean. So now that I have this exercise-during-pregnancy-thing down to a science, with Baby #3 (NO! I’M NOT PREGNANT!) I am going stick with the strength training and PiYo, but add a bit more cardio.
Moral of the story is I, you, we ALL need a balanced workout plan that includes cardio, strength, stretching, and balance!