I’ll be honest. I’m quite vain. I don’t really care too much for makeup, and I can’t be bothered to fix my hair much, but I do care very much about how I look. I don’t ever want to look old, or tired, or unkempt.
I also absolutely loathe feeling weak and helpless. I like feeling strong, capable, independent. I like being able to lift heavy weights, to run or climb long distances, to test my limits. I guess that’s why I like trying new physical activities: arnis, wall-climbing, yoga, hiking, running, swimming.
Those two put together make very compelling motivations for staying fit during pregnancy. Of course there are also a bazillion other reasons to exercise and maintain one’s strength while pregnant, on top of a healthy diet and proper rest. But really, my biggest motivation was that I did not want to become a helpless giant pregnant woman.
Exercising pregnant woman
We asked my OB about exercising, and she told me that I could do exercises that I used to do before, within reason. Her only precaution, really, was, “This is not the time to try something new!” I also read up on exercise for pregnant women. Most articles and blogs advised avoiding activities where there’s a risk of you falling or losing your balance, high impact sports, and anything that requires you to hold your breath. And of course, always consult your doctor!
During my first trimester, Oneal and I tried walking around the village after dinner. I think we managed that exactly once, haha! At night we were just too tired to exercise, and we wanted to stay home and rest instead.
So I installed some pregnancy fitness apps, and tried those. I also walked a lot, since I was still commuting part of the way to work. And when I was working at home, I went for a swim in the village pool.
What I really wanted to do, though, was pre-natal yoga. I loved yoga when I was practicing once a week, back in 2009 and 2010. When I got too busy to go to weekly classes, I practiced at home. I tried other classes, but I never managed regular practice again. (Read about my first foray into yoga, back in 2009.)
I had read somewhere that yoga was a good exercise for pregnant women. Our teachers always mentioned hip openers, and I knew that had to be good for childbirth. So when we started trying for a baby, I bought a yoga book that had a chapter on pre-natal yoga. I managed to practice at home for a few months.
Now that I’m pregnant, I’m doing yoga a little more often! Our office schedules a private class every two weeks, and the teacher is a pediatrician who also trained in pre-natal yoga. She’s happy to adjust some poses for me, and is always telling me how to adjust to fit my growing belly.
What’s it like, doing yoga while pregnant? Obviously some poses are difficult, or simply not advised. Some balancing poses are more difficult, simply because your center of gravity is shifting, and your weight is changing. I think most forward bends are a no-no as well, because, duh.
I also noticed that I got tired more easily. I couldn’t hold poses as long as I used to, because my joints or my muscles would get tired. Tree pose was always a challenge even when I was practicing regularly, but while pregnant, I could barely manage the most basic pose! I figured it was time for a dedicated pre-natal yoga class.
Fortunately our good friend Paul has been teaching yoga for the past few months, and he treated me to a private pre-natal yoga session at White Space! I was so happy.
It took a while to schedule, because I was so busy with work, but I finally managed a free Wednesday. And oh, it was wonderful! Teacher Eena taught me how to do poses that had been modified for pregnant women. She would assist me by holding my weight, supporting my back or my legs, fixing my alignment. And my back and my legs were so happy!
So yes, definitely exercise while you’re pregnant, if your doctor gives the go-signal. Those endorphins are good for you!