When my wife was pregnant, one of the key things I learned was to become a great team player. Fitness was no longer an independent concern. It became a goal for the entire family: me, my wife, and our unborn son. Your solo approach to fitness changes into a joint effort.
This article is for pregnant women and their boyfriends or husbands who are joining them in the journey of a lifetime. While it’s important to know technically the best and safest exercises during your pregnancy, it’s equally, if not more, important to find solidarity and turn health into a family mission.
Since there are unlimited forms of exercise and movement that people employ to stay fit, it’s nearly impossible to create a list of the right types of sports. But here’s a list of concepts to adhere to when you are pregnant, to help you guide you toward the right form of exercise, or modify your existing training regime.
1. No impact on the body. This includes obvious sports, suchs kickboxing and self-defense classes, but also includes sports that have risks of falling or bumping into objects, like obstacle courses, mud runs, and high-speed cycling.
2. No twisting. Twisting creates excessive strain on your abdominal region, a section of your body that is undergoing immense and rapid physiological changes. Keep your mid-section strong with breathing exercises, and overall body toning, but remove twisting moves that strain and already fast-adapting area.
3. No harnesses. When I worked at Cirque du Soleil, the artists who became pregnant were instantly unassigned from any aerial roles. No harnesses, no belts or supporting body rigging that could impinge on sensitive reproductive organs. This includes sports like rock climbing (especially if you take a fall), parachuting (hey, if you’re already into it, you might be tempted to go for one more jump), and other aerial adventures.
4. No inversions. Try to avoid going upside down. Mostly, my wife enjoyed going upside down during pregnancy because of the additional weight, and also because of how easy it is to cause discomfort to a changing body.
So, now that you’ve eliminated pretty much everything you can do, what can you do?
A few ways my wife kept fit were:
• pre-natal yoga
The list is much smaller, but is certainly not all-inclusive. Think about what you love to do for movement and then modify it until you are sure it doesn’t cause you any pain, undue stress, and violates any of the guidelines above.
Equally as important is the change of attitude required of the entire family regarding fitness. Fitness, as often defined, is limited to what physical activity you do to stay in shape. Do you do crunches, or sit ups? Do you run, or swim? In the end, the most beneficial activity is the one you enjoy the most. Have you ever seen people exercise and be stressed about it? Wrong approach. Choose something that makes you light and happy, and even if you might push yourself during training, you must finish with the thought that your body is happy doing this.
Consider that fitness is also about your diet, and your emotional and mental state as well. This is where your partner can help out. Turn pregnancy wellness into a team effort. If your husband is eating junk food for dinner, and you’re trying to feed yourself and your growing baby healthy foods, then coordinate your meals so that everyone is eating healthy. For husbands and boyfriends — don’t try to go against the grain too much while your lady is pregnant. Follow her lead.
This doesn’t always mean that you’ll be eating a perfect diet on the ANDI score. My wife, and like most women who are pregnant, will have wild swings in diet preferences, from super healthy to super junky. We ended up eating Thai food four times a week, no chicken or turkey, and lots of watermelon. After our son was born, we almost never eat Thai food, always have chicken, and no watermelon. Don’t get too attached to the food plan: it will change once your child is born.
That said, don’t let yourself go off the deep end either and fill your days with popcorn, soda and fast food. Remember that you have a little one to feed (how could you forget?) but with cravings battling commonsense, it may be easy to succumb to the dark side of bad food. Indulge occasionally, and then lean on the support of your partner and close family members to help you stay on track.
A last interesting note for boyfriends and husbands. There’s a vague myth that the men put on some pregnancy weight. While the woman obviously gains, the man sometimes puts on a few additional pounds — something referred to as sympathy weight. I gained about 8 pounds during her pregnancy, nothing to even blink an eye at relative to what my wife endured. But don’t be surprised if your body changes somewhat also!
In the end, your fitness during your pregnancy comes down to 3 things to remember:
1. Move in a way that most inspires you, brings joy to your body and does not cause impact on your body, require you to overly twist your torso, does not put you in a harness, and has no inversions.
2. Go with your cravings and keep an eye out to abstain from totally going into junk food mode.
3. Turn fitness into a team effort with your partner supporting you through cooking, buying the food, and eating a similar diet.
Professional Acrobat and Coach
Owner Barefoot Sanctuary