PregnancyFilter: Have I left it too late to get in shape?
January 11, 2018 4:35 PM   Subscribe

I'm 6 weeks pregnant (omg!) and unfit, particularly my core. All the guidance says not to overdo it with your stomach muscles while they're changing etc. Is it too late to do something about my weak muscles and bad fitness levels?

I have a ton of excuses about why I'm so unfit, but the long and short of it is that, aside from a lot of walking (so yes, my legs are ok, but not the rest of me), I'm really out of shape.

I've been doing bits of yoga, but I've read that you're not supposed to do much in the way of stretches that tense up your core muscles. I'm going to start swimming again. I am in my mid 30s, eat generally healthily, and am just a little overweight, but not by much.

But I guess I'm worried that my stomach muscles are about to start stretching beyond all recognition and maybe they're not going to handle it well, being so weak?

Anon because it's only six weeks... but I guess the anxiety starts here!!
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Oh geez what a load of crap. Talk to your doctor in case your condition is unique, but in general of course you can (and should!) exercise while pregnant. I recommend Pilates over Yoga, as it's more focused on strength. I did Pilates all through my first pregnancy with fabulous instructors and was much better for it.
posted by brainmouse at 4:43 PM on January 11, 2018 [9 favorites]

It’s not too late. Pre natal yoga is how I got started exercising regularly. I actually went to the classes because “it was for the baby.” It was great because I met a bunch of women who would soon have a kid the same age as mine. After the babies were born we exercised together.
For my second kid, I did the prenatal yoga plus long walks plus I continued strength training.

There’s no reason why you can’t get healthier and stronger now. And there’s many reasons to start now. Taking care of yourself is really important when you have a little kid.

posted by songs_about_rainbows at 4:45 PM on January 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

Obviously you should check with your doctor, BUT my understanding is that most people do not need to start modifying their exercise routine until the 2nd trimester, other than avoiding seriously dangerous things (i.e. no skydiving or contact sports). I also highly recommend this pre-natal Pilates series on YouTube. It is safe to do all 3 trimesters (again, assuming no additional/special health concerns), and I really like the instructor. You may find the "core" video especially useful in figuring out which types of core exercises are good for pregnancy -- there are definitely still ways to work those muscles that don't involve sit-ups/crunches (the big no-no).
posted by rainbowbrite at 4:47 PM on January 11, 2018 [3 favorites]

Check with your doctor but my understanding is that you should not work out harder during pregnancy than you did before you were pregnant. You can, however, maintain whatever exercise routine you had before pregnancy, at least for the first two trimesters.
posted by amro at 5:01 PM on January 11, 2018

You can also talk with your doctor about PT to strengthen your core while pregnant ... I had PT during two of mine (and should have during the third by the child care had gotten complicated!). I had a lot of back problems so mine focused on strengthening my core and back, and the PTs were able to give me plenty of safe exercises, including ones that were focused specifically on the special problems of pregnant bodies. (It also involved insurance-paid pregnancy massages, A+++ would PT again.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:25 PM on January 11, 2018

Talk to your doctor about diastasis recti before going crazy on ab workouts. I know many women who thought they were doing the right thing by doing a lot of ab work during pregnancy (core strength, etc) and now are dealing with it.
posted by valeries at 5:39 PM on January 11, 2018 [8 favorites]

If for some reason this doesn't happen, and you don't work out, that's also totally ok. dont feel guilty, you can have a healthy pregnancy with or without Pilates, and a difficult one either way.
posted by Valancy Rachel at 6:59 PM on January 11, 2018 [5 favorites]

+1 for physical therapy! It's great!!!
posted by jbenben at 8:04 PM on January 11, 2018

no, you did not leave it too late!
I was already 5 months pregnant (and 43) when I found out that I was pregnant (yes this does happen). And unfit does not even begin to cover the state my body was in.
I started to walk every day for at least two hours as per my midwife's recommendation, and also went to Feldenkrais therapy (individual, and especially for pregnant women, not group sessions) every week, as my hip joints were so stiff.
Contrary to my multiple doctor's expectations I had a complication free vaginal birth that took just about 3 hours. For every horror story there is a positive one, don't let the doctors and online forums scare you. Shelter yourself from the IRL and online fear mongers as much as you can.

I found myself a midwife and met her every week, totally worth the money, instead of all the usual pregnancy classes as I found the constant stories exchanged at the classes scared me witless and I definitely had no need for more horror stories of what could go wrong. The midwife was also able to put in perspective the scary opinions my doctors voiced about my supposed inability to give vaginal birth etc. I suppose in the US this role of support for the pregnant woman would be taken on by a doula? Anyway it was veryhelpful to get some qualified information from someone who hada positive outlook on giving birth.
posted by 15L06 at 12:44 AM on January 12, 2018 [5 favorites]

I got fitter during my first pregnancy and it was fine. For my third it wouldn’t have been, but I knew that from ultrasounds etc. My pro tip is try aqua fit; it’s low-impact, no crunches, and as you get more pregnant that 45 min-hr of having your weight held up by water is great.
posted by warriorqueen at 4:55 AM on January 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

I just had a baby two weeks ago and my main “fitness” activity is walking to work (~1km). My best actions on this front were to find a prenatal chiropractor and a pelvic floor physiotherapist (even better that they work together!) and they had excellent guidance on keeping tension down and how to learn to strengthen and relax certain muscles. Swimming in the third trimester was heaven. Third tri is really where everything is stretched, and I was told not to get out of bed using my abs but to turn on my side and push myself up with my arms instead. It was a good experience and my stomach muscles are fine now (though building back up as is necessary postpartum) so I would recommend finding practitioners like those I mentioned who specialize in the pregnant body.
posted by sadmadglad at 5:27 AM on January 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

I was unfit when I got pregnant with my daughter and am still unfit after birthing her, her brother, and chasing after them for 4 years. Pregnancy was fine, labor was fine, recovery was fine. I have the same abs (not many) that I had before I had two 9 1/2 lbs kids in less than two years.

Which is to say, walking is great, taking care of yourself is great, swimming is great, but also remember that you don't NEED to be a fit pregnant woman to safeguard your body or have an easy pregnancy and delivery. The worse cases of diastasis recti in my mom-friends are from moms who specifically did core exercises to "help".
posted by lydhre at 7:25 AM on January 12, 2018 [7 favorites]

I a little fit for my first baby and gained like 50 pounds... I lost a little bit of that but got pregnant right away- I was much more unfit for my second baby- and ultimately I had 60 pounds to lose after baby 2, I hadn't exercised in like 18 months (bedrest) and had been eating Hawaiian pizza and ice cream etc. I've now, a year and a half later gotten nearly back to my original weight, a few more pounds to go- basically, my tummy was flat before, and it's flat now... it gets crinkly when I bend over though. So I think it's genetic. I just would have gotten back here faster if I'd been fitter and hadn't gained so much but it wasn't ruinous. I wish I could have exercised but for my body that would have been bad for my pregnancy.
posted by catspajammies at 10:54 AM on January 13, 2018

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