I’ve had my eyes opened this week as I’ve been […]
I’ve had my eyes opened this week as I’ve been working on an upcoming article for P&N. It’s about prenatal fitness, especially the mental benefits of exercise during pregnancy. This is something I believe in wholeheartedly. I’ve been working out very regularly since spring this year, and after a couple months of exercising four to six times per week and watching my diet, I was feeling great and actually reduced my antidepressant dose by 50 percent after many years on the higher dose. My mind felt clearer, and I felt better about myself in general.
Now that school is in session and my schedule is busier (plus, the weather keeps me from getting out as much as I used to), I’m not quite as disciplined. But I’m still at the gym at least three times a week. The pregnancy has not changed my workout frequency, nor my routine until this week.
One of the interviews I conducted about a week ago was with Erica Ziel, a personal trainer and the founder of KnockedUpFitness.com. She told me something I had never heard before. With her clients who are expecting baby No. 3 or beyond, she says absolutely no plyometrics or running (or any other jarring activity), especially during the first trimester. She says that based on her research and doctors she has spoken to, these activities up the risk of miscarriage.
Because I have always heard “keep doing your regular fitness routine unless you’re high-risk or your doctor tells you otherwise,” that’s what I’ve done. Even when I was pregnant last year and experienced spotting each time I exercised. And then at some point before 13 weeks, I miscarried.
So now I carry the guilt of knowing I have been putting this baby at risk by running on the treadmill and including plyometrics in my workouts. But at least I know now, so I can be more careful! I also want to pass this tip on to other women. The current guidelines from ACOG (The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) say, “Physical activity does not increase your risk of miscarriage, low birth weight or early delivery.” And I still agree with this somewhat. But what Erica said really stood out to me. She pointed out that your uterus expands faster in later pregnancies, so the tiny fetus inside has less protection until it grows larger and fills more of the space.
Based on that conversation, I’ve now replaced running on the treadmill with elliptical training or speed walking with a steep incline. I’m lifting weights and doing squats and lunges, but I’ve removed the jumping aspects. I’ve also loved taking barre classes lately—toning my muscles and getting my heart rate up without the high impact.
One of my workout buddies was quick to remind me that another of our friends ran throughout her entire pregnancy. And you know what? Great for her! But this time I’m taking fewer chances.