When talking about exercise, I generally call it movement vs exercise because of the negative connotations associated with exercise. For me, and a lot of other people, exercise has come to mean punishment, grueling, sweaty, heart pumping, a way to ‘earn food’ (you never have you earn food), etc. And that doesn’t jive with me. Movement jives better because movement is any way you move your body. Any way. There’s less pressure associated, and for me it’s positive vs. negative. Does it matter? Not really, I’m talking about the same thing, but for me and a lot of other people, the language associated with something makes a huge difference in how you feel about it/view it.
SO movement in pregnancy (FOR ME) has looked… a lot like it did before pregnancy, and different at the same time. In the beginning, I was terrified of doing something wrong/risking losing another baby, so the second I found out I was pregnant, I stopped doing pretty much everything other than walking (unless it was particularly icy outside) until around 9 weeks.
By 9 weeks, after I’d seen my doctor and been told that everything looked great, I relaxed a lot more and started allowing myself to move my body in more enjoyable ways/more normal ways like I had before because I really missed it. Moving has always been important for my body to feel it’s best, so I was anxious to get back to it. I wasn’t anxious to get back to it because I felt the need to control my weight gain like every dumbass website and book says, but so that my body could feel better. That was all. I eased back in with Fitness Blender gentle cardio + pilates (minus any unsafe moves), prenatal yoga (with Gaia) more walking and eventually by week 11, a bit higher cardio with Fitness Blender.
A major difference for me has been learning how to read my body. While I knew all of it’s cues before, being pregnant (and sick/exhausted 24/7) has changed all of that and I’m having to re-learn when I need rest vs when some movement will help me feel better/give me a bit of energy. There are days where all I can muster is a walk – sometimes 20 minutes, some times 30, sometimes 60. There are days where I know I can knock out a sweaty workout (with the windows open so I don’t overheat), there are days where it has to be slow and gentle, and there are days where moving my body is impossible. Some days my body is so exhausted, I literally cannot force my legs to walk other than to shower, tidy, make food and go to the bathroom. Those days maybe happen once a week… the odd time twice. But they happen and I had to learn how to honor that and let my body do nothing but keep me alive and keep baby growing while I read/watch tv/movies and eat. Rest is SO SO SO SO SO SO important in pregnancy and the first trimester has a way of sucking the life out of you… and it can be really hard to honor that, but it does have to happen. Your body is smart. There is a reason it’s so tired and a reason it needs extra rest than you’re used to.
Something I’m not super focused on is strength. While I think it’s a good idea (for me) to keep some level of my usual strength pre-pregnancy, my body has intuitively told me to focus more on stretching, softening and relaxing. It feels right to maintain a level of endurance (it’s quite a bit lower than my non pregnant self but we’ll see what it looks like once I start feeling better) for labor/birth, and it feels wrong to tighten up my muscles while they need to be stretching/expanding/making room for baby. Does that make sense?
In the last 12 weeks, I’ve learned that nothing does or will stay the same in pregnancy (obviously) so I do expect things to change… likely shortly after I post this. Just like our bodies are always in flux (both while pregnant and not), our needs are always in flux. Who knows what next month will look like.
We’ll end this post with a the best beef pho from the restaurant 8 minutes from our house… because it saves my life every weekend and because life threw me another curve ball and gave me a cold on top of all the lovely pregnancy things. Which means I’m not leaving my house/cozy clothes, eating pho takeout and I’m RESTING instead of moving. But also making some banana bread… because banana bread.
Always in flux.
*This post is about my experience with my pregnancy and my body. This is not by any means a recommendation for you and your body/your pregnancy. ABSOLUTELY consult your health care professional for YOUR specific needs, and do not compare my experience to yours.