By: Christina Vargas
Christina Vargas is an athlete, fit mom, and creator of her eponymous workout app. Here, she writes about how her workouts changed during pregnancy.
As an athlete, working out is not only my job but also my life.
But when I got pregnant, everything changed. I couldn't believe how many people were telling me that working out during pregnancy was discouraged. How could working out be bad? Of course, every woman is different, but I personally made it my mission to figure out how I could have a safe, healthy, and happy pregnancy.
The first few weeks of pregnancy are so important – not to mention mentally challenging. Everything goes through your head from “I want my baby to be healthy” to “I don't want to gain too much weight and look horrible.” That’s when it’s time to refocus your mind and say, “this body is to grow a human.”
I felt extremely sick during my pregnancy and for some of us it doesn't just stop after the first trimester. In my experience, it continued to get worse all the way up until I gave birth. Every day, I used my athletic attitude to work out or to make tough decisions. I was mindful about how I was feeling. When I knew it might not be safe for me to work out, I allowed myself to rest. It was a huge challenge for someone like me, but it instilled a new lesson I learned when my baby was born: Your life isn't yours anymore.
In the first trimester, you look the same, but it doesn't mean your exercise routine is the same. When you’re pregnant, you cannot overheat your body. Doing so may lead to complications for the baby. (Consider hot yoga off limits.)
Once I reached 12 weeks of pregnancy, I realized that laying on my back can compress the vena cava, the vein that carries blood to your heart. This is why I started doing ab compressions. Keeping your core tight by doing abdominal compressions is important to prevent diastasis recti (a.k.a. abdominal separation). These can be done sitting in your car or standing up against a wall.
When you hit the second and the third trimester, you have to be mindful of the baby’s position. The position lets you know if it is safe to squat or even lift things above your head. Some women have to be extra careful but once you get through the do's and don'ts, it is pretty much smooth sailing.
Most women feel the same. We have the same insecurities. Knowing you are not alone is very important. Remember that your body can not only make humans, but also has the power to heal itself. Getting your body back to what it was before or better is totally possible. I created my little human and I was on a mission to look better than I ever did. Our minds are so powerful; whatever we believe can happen. My advice is to not give up on yourself when you get pregnant, and instead focus on your new purpose in life.
Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program.
Photo: courtesy of Christina Vargas