Everyone agrees that staying active and exercising while pregnant is the best way to maintain a woman’s health and fitness and prepare her for the often strenuous and challenging rigors of childbirth, but starting a prenatal exercise program can be daunting. In the first trimester (conception to 3 months) women often experience extreme fatigue and varying degrees of nausea or “morning sickness” (which is absolutely not confined to mornings.) Most healthcare providers and prenatal fitness experts will agree that women should listen to their bodies and rest during this transitional period. Women, in general, tend to not feel like exercising much and for those who were previously very active this can be a bit disconcerting.
Once the first trimester is over, most women have spent a couple of months out of an exercise routine and are intimidated to start something new or resume their past exercise routine. I have many women show up in the beginning of their second trimester feeling guilty and concerned that they have done nothing for 2-3 months and intimidated to start prenatal yoga. It seems to ease their minds when I tell them that 90% of my students are in the same boat, they come to their first class after doing virtually nothing during their first trimester and this is entirely appropriate since the number one rule to any prenatal activity is, “If it doesn’t feel good, don’t do it!”
I tell my students who have been out of an exercise routine for a while that when they start back up they should start very slowly, start with 15 minutes once or twice a day and see how that feels for a few days. I tell them they should start this way because their bodies have been changing over the last few months and are changing every day and the things that felt great before they were pregnant might not feel good at all now. A simple twist or side stretch might feel uncomfortable. Every woman is different, some women might need a few weeks of building up their exercise routine before they do a full class, others can do a full class, starting slowly and listening to their bodies, right away.
The question I get over and over is, “when is the best time to start a prenatal yoga routine?” and my answer is that there is no one right way when it comes to prenatal fitness. Every woman is different and is ready to start exercising when her body tells her it is time as long as she has no complications with her pregnancy and has gotten the ok from her doctor or midwife. This typically occurs at the beginning of the second trimester but some women can exercise during their first trimester or not start until the third trimester. My advice, if it feels good to exercise during your first trimester, is to take it easy, don’t push yourself, and consult with your doctor or midwife.
We have gotten so accustomed to “asking the experts” and getting the latest research (which almost always contradicts the previous research) that we have lost the connection with our own bodies. Pregnancy is a great time to reconnect with your body, to get in touch with what feels good for you and what doesn’t, whether it be food, exercise or any activity that you participate in, do it mindfully and pay attention, your body has a lot to say!
When did you start your Prenatal Yoga Practice? How did you feel once you began?
Please comment and let me know your thoughts.
Jennifer Wolfe is the creator of Prenatal Vinyasa Yoga, a Prenatal Yoga DVD, designed to offer pregnant women a safe and vigorous yoga practice which will help them prepare for labor, childbirth, and postpartum recovery