During pregnancy, there are so many novelties in the way we must take care of ourselves, that fitness may not make it to the top of the short list. Feeling tired, cranky, and to-big-to-move are also part of the equation, but they are also the most important reasons to stay active. As everyone knows, studies have proven that whenever we feel the most lethargic and irritable - the more we need to exercise. And I swear, it's the truth.
My pregnancy this time around differed incredibly from my pregnancy with Freida. To the extent that mamas everywhere swore I was having a boy (because of how differently I carried with Freida). From my perspective, the one and only difference this time was my level of fitness - and how radically it made me think and feel. Each time I got off the treadmill, or stretched after a long walk, I felt a burst of adrenaline and was flooded with endorphins - the happy high. While I took my Prenatal Yoga classes very seriously while pregnant with Freida, it helped keep me strong and limber, but it didn't at all produce the same level of happy-hormones that cardio activity does. The benefits of exercise may allow us to feel strong, confident, and sexy - but the extra and most-important-to-me side effect is the "runner's high"; the feeling of excitement, capability, and inspiration that comes to me after a bout of good ol' cardio training. And during a pregnancy, there's a lot to be said for anything that makes us feel that way (plus, I'm sure blasting an upbeat playlist on my iPod while working out helps in the inspiration department)!
But aside from that, I feel like I bounced back so much better and faster this time (which is only natural for a subsequent birth)! While I can't prove why that is, I'd attribute it to how much more active I stayed throughout the 9 months, and so I wanted to share a few of the exercises that helped keep me feeling my very best during gestation: Squats, Planks, and Cat/Cow were three favorites that I really feel did a great deal to help me out. Squats and lunges were great because they helped keep my level of balance while strengthening my lower body. Planks I could not have lived without - they helped strengthen my back, and kept my core strong and pain-free (though I had plenty of back pain post-partum, and can't imagine how I would have functioned if I had that kind of local discomfort throughout pregnancy!). Cat/Cow helped relax me in general, and took a load of weight off of me when I was feeling heavy or off-centered. It helped loosen up my spine, neck, and shoulders much like a massage would.
You can view this photo gallery of 10 safe exercises you can do during pregnancy. Most of them a stationary stretches and strengthening moves, and while these are fantastic - don't be afraid to get moving and bring your heartbeat up as well! It makes such a difference!!!