Growing TWO babies can really put a damper on your workout routine. You’re tired, have pain in weird places, and are simultaneously starved and nauseated for about 20 hours a day. How on earth can you make exercise work when you feel like when the two little succubi are stealing your lifeforce as you sleep? You may be surprised, but a little bit of gentle exercise can help relieve some of those icky symptoms you may be suffering.
Medical issues permitting, including gentle exercise throughout your pregnancy can be highly beneficial and can even help with delivery and post-partum recovery. New evidence suggests that even if you haven’t previously exercised, adding in moderate physical activity is safe and valuable for most people as it promotes general cardiovascular and muscular health. It is probably best to avoid long distance running, heavy weight lifting, contact sports, hot yoga, and any exercises that place you in the supine (lying face up) position once you are in your second trimester. Luckily there are plenty of safe and fun choices that can work for you and your duo, even into the third trimester.
Aerobic activity is great, just know your limits. You generally want to keep your heart rate at less than 90 percent of its maximum beats per minute so that you can avoid dehydration or a diversion of blood flow from the placentas to the muscles. Listen to your body as you get your Zumba on.There is nothing like a little rhythmic movement to help release some steam, but don’t be discouraged if you find aerobic activity too challenging when you near your third trimester.
Stretching and strength are probably some of the best things you can do for yourself when you are baking babies. Yoga, Pilates, and Barre Ballet workouts can be a great and gentle way to keep yourself lose and limber, and build strong muscles. Deep breathing will also help settle your frazzles nerves and get a good dose of oxygen flowing through your system. This can energize and rejuvenate both you and your growing twinzies.
The importance of carving out a little time to quiet your body and your mind is huge. Bringing those stress and cortisol levels down makes for happy mommas and happy twinzies. When you dive into downward dog, do be attentive to take your stretches slowly because the surge of relaxin (the hormone that relaxes ligaments) can make you more prone to injury. And if you find yourself passing wind as you wind down, don’t fret we’ve all been there (because pregnancy and get used to the fart jokes because kids).
So what if you’re the only one under 60 at the group swim class? Swimming is fun, and can really take the pressure off that baby bump (plus you can probably get some great retirement advice). Stretching into positions that relieve tight muscles and pinched nerves can be easily achieved, and you can stay cool and comfortable while you “break a sweat.” This is a great option especially when you need to beat the summertime heat.
If you are someone who enjoys a good weight lifting session, keep in mind there are lots of strength exercises you can do without weights (hello built in baby weights) that will help you to maintain and increase your strength. Squats double as labor prep, push-ups can be done against a wall to relieve some extra pressure, and a modified plank can certainly have you breaking a sweat. Resistance bands can also help you add a little bit of a challenge without overdoing it. Get creative and have fun with it.
If the options above seem like way too much for you, simply setting aside some time each day for a walk can do you a world of good. Focus less on your pace and more on your progress. The act of intentionally stepping away from the stress of modern life to breathe fresh air and move in general will renew your body and mind. Embrace nature as medicine.
Remember, growing babies is hard work. Don’t feel guilty if you are struggling to fit in exercise. If you are stressing too much about what you aren’t doing, then you are doing yourself a disservice. Exercise is a tool to help you have a great pregnancy! Use it in a way that works for you!