Congratulations, deciding that you’re ready to be a parent is a huge accomplishment. It means you feel settled enough to consider starting a family with the man of your dreams. You feel like your health is where it needs to be and you’re excited to get started. But you’re not so sure where exercise fits into this new picture.
So far you’ve probably been told to put a hold to your exercise routine so as not to jeopardize what you’re trying to achieve. And there’s now a niggling fear in the back of your mind that you should probably listen to these wise folks so that you don’t regret it if something goes wrong.
I’ve been where you are and thankfully I didn’t listen to said advice and I’ve come out on the other side. There is a genuine reason to be worried if you have a pre-existing health issue, but if you’re an otherwise healthy woman, you should be able to get the okay from your doctor. But let’s dive into the benefits I talked about.
First, I’m going to talk about some of the hidden benefits of maintaining your exercise routine while trying to conceive, then I’ll share my personal experience on the topic, and we’ll close with the action you can take to give you the peace of mind that you’re doing what’s best for you and your future baby.
It Increases Your Chances of Achieving Your Dream and Starting a Family
Having a healthy body before you begin your journey to motherhood can have a significant effect on your ability to conceive a child. You can still do it otherwise, but being healthy helps you set the best foundation for both you and your baby going forward. Exercise can play a role in helping you build a healthy body to support life by conditioning your heart to be able to take the added strain of the increased blood volume that you get when your pregnant. It can also make your body more sensitive to the hormonal changes that happen in early pregnancy so that you know when your body starts changing and can adjust your exercise routine in preparation.
I made the decision to get in the best shape of my life before I got pregnant with my son Riley. I exercised up until the day he was born, but I started to modify my routine even before I knew I was pregnant with him because I “felt” pregnant. I knew early on that early and took Crossfit workouts out of my workout rotation because I was so in-tune with how my body normally felt and was aware that something was going on even before I peed on the stick.
It Helps You Chuck the “Honey I’m Tired” and Other Excuses Like it Out the Window
You would expect that with how busy your life is, exercise would drain the little energy that you have but the opposite is the case. There’s something about the post-exercise endorphin rush and the increased blood flow that gives you energy that you didn’t think you had. This can help when it’s time to do the dance with the hubby on your baby-making journey. Having energy at the end of your busy day of living your best life can be the difference between taking advantage of your fertile window or not.
It Makes You More Adventurous
When you’re trying to make a baby, you and hubby will probably be getting busy a lot of times and you’re both likely to get bored if you stick to the trusty missionary position every single time. Exercising can give you the physical strength to try more taxing positions and make you both more excited about the process so you’re not just going through the motions to get to the end goal of a beautiful bundle of joy in your arms.
It Can Help Ease Your Pregnancy and Labor
Pregnancy can be hard. From the increased blood flow to the added weight, there’s nothing about it that doesn’t demand more from your body than it’s used to giving. Exercising can be a form of practice for the rigors of pregnancy. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s really no way to simulate the experience if you’ve never been pregnant, but doing regular exercise can get your body used to meeting the arduous demands of pregnancy and of course labor. Plus you get used to sweating, which is one of those things that can happen a lot when you’re pregnant.
When you pick up exercise to prepare for pregnancy and labor, it doesn’t have to be strenuous. Yoga, for example, is a fantastic way to stay active while you’re pregnant. When I was in labor with my son, I asked for an epidural, which meant that I couldn’t feel a thing from my waist down except for slight pressure. This could have made pushing next to impossible when it was time, but having an awareness of my breath from my regular yoga practice made it as easy as listening to my caregivers and I was able to push him out in all of 22 minutes without any major issues.
It Makes it Easier for You to Drop the Baby Weight Afterwards
The weight that you’ll inevitably gain during pregnancy can be the hard to lose afterwards. Getting in the habit of regular exercise before you even get pregnant can make it so much easier to pick the habit back up after the baby comes. Elite athletes get to where they are in life by showing up for practice each and every day; think of pre-pregnancy workouts as your way of being an elite athlete getting ready for a big competition – labor day, being the best mom you can be, and dropping the weight after the baby comes. In my coaching practice, this is one of the biggest things I see. A client coming to me with the expectation that she’ll be able to pick up an exercise habit and run with it like she’s been doing it all her life. This is too much to ask of yourself, so why not start the habit now.
Now that you’ve read this, I hope that you’re ready to take action on building an exercise habit even before you have a little one in the oven. To get started, have a conversation with your doctor about the best type of exercise for you. Your doctor knows your medical history and will be able to co-decide with you on what’s best. To increase your chances of walking out with a plan that you’ll like, come up with a list of workouts that you like and discuss them with your doctor so that you have clear instructions to go forward with.
Once you have a way forward, make sure you execute consistently to get the benefits you’ve just read about and so much more.
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