My Pregnancy Fitness Journey
Exercise has always been a big part of my life but after having my first child last year, it became even dearer to my heart. It helped me feel strong again, regulate my moods and feel generally good about myself. We often associate the motivation to exercise with wanting to look good and be thin but there are so many deeper benefits to staying active. Some of these benefits include, maintaining good heart health, regulating hormones, aiding sleep, boosting energy levels, reducing the risk of chronic illness, boosting confidence and relieving anxiety and depression and the list go on and on. When I fell pregnant the second time, I really wanted to find a way to continue getting the benefits I was receiving from working out while making safe choices for my baby and changing body.
During pregnancy, the right kind of exercise can help in relieving aches and pains and preparing your body for labor. It may sound counter intuitive but on some of my achiest or most uncomfortable days, getting my heart rate up and moving my body has given me the relief, mood boost and perspective I needed. Having good muscle tone and elasticity can also aid in the healing process once you’ve given birth. I read somewhere that preparing for labor is like preparing for a marathon both mentally and physically and after having gone through labor myself, I can say that that is true and this was one factor that motivated me to stay fit and strong during pregnancy #2. As I near the finish line (in my second pregnancy) I wanted to share with you my fitness journey so far and how I had to make changes to how I exercised as my pregnancy progressed. I’m now 35 weeks and have had to slow down considerably. I’m struggling to exercise twice a week at this point, as I battle pain related to Daistasis recti and Pelvic girdle pain as well as just getting way bigger and more tired. But that is all part of my personal pregnancy journey and I’ve been learning that for me personally slowing down can be just as important and challenging as finding the motivation to exercise and stay active.
Please note, I am not a fitness expert, personal trainer or doctor so I only come from a place of personal experience. I hope this article inspires someone and is a resource if you want to stay active but are not sure what workouts are out there in Nairobi for pregnant mommies.
Disclaimer: Not all pregnancies and mommies are the same, so please be sure you get the go ahead from your medical practitioner before exercising. If you have a high risk pregnancy, preexisting condition or are not accustom to physical exercise this may not apply. On a personal note, I developed an abdominal muscle separation (abdominus recti) during my first pregnancy, which I’ve had to be conscious of during this current pregnancy. My midwife and physiotherapist have cleared me to exercise provided I am very conscious of my form during exercise and avoid extra strain on my belly. I hope to write about this in the future and how I’ve dealt with this challenge. But for now lets get on to workouts that have worked for me!
I’m going to highlight three avenues I have used to work out. Experts suggest that 21/2 hours of low impact, moderate intensity exercise per week is advisable for pregnant mommies. Here’s how I spent those 21/2 hours.
Reform Cycling and Strength Studio
The first is a spin and strength training gym here in Westlands called Reform Cycling and Strength Studio. My husband and I have been training there for the last four years and I haven’t been able to give it up until recently, in the late stages of my pregnancy. I love spin classes for the cardio workout I get where I get to gauge the intensity. As I push myself on the stationary bike I can feel the endorphins and energy surging through me, pair that with fantastic music and trainers and its a party. I found it to be really bonding with my little baby inside, I imagine him hearing the music and dancing in my tummy and getting extra oxygen as I breath heavily and expand my lungs. I hope he’s smiling on the inside as much as I am on the outside. Of course, when pregnant you want to keep your heart rate from elevating too much and make sure you can still pretty much breathe normally, if that means not pushing yourself that’s perfectly ok. A good rule of thumb or way to test this out is to make sure you can still talk or sing during your class. 🙂 You can also chose a shorter ride, perhaps 30 mins instead of an hour. Remember as long as your having a good time and moving around, you are doing enough.
Reform also offers Barre Classes and Strength training classes using weights or body resistance. I would attend these as I felt throughout my first and second trimester. They even offer combination classes, which are a personal favorite. (for example 30 mins on the stationary bicycle and 30 mins of light weight training.) I feel these classes give me the best of both worlds, a little cardio and a little tone. Don’t be intimidated by the name (they are called Body Shredder 🙂 I find them really appropriate for me, especially when I take them at my pace. Remember you can substitute or modify any exercise that doesn’t suit you; the trainers are very hands on, flexible and attentive. If you listen to your body and are there only for yourself and your little one, I believe you can’t go wrong. Personally these type of workouts felt good for me only in my first two trimesters and I have since given them up in my third trimester. The key is to listen to your body and your doctor or midwife.
Mom in Balance
The second is a mom-led, outdoor aerobics class called mom in balance that is curated especially for mothers at all stages. They have 3 or 4 fabulous pregnancy classes a week held all over Nairobi, that you can choose from. These focus on pregnancy appropriate cardio, leg and glute and arm strengthening and the all-important pelvic floor strengthening. These classes are really perfectly tailored to pregnant mommies needs and capabilities and I would say that moms at any level of fitness could greatly benefit from these classes. Did I mention they are also done in nature, which means you are breathing fresh oxygen-rich air into your lungs that’s going right to your baby. I’ve taken part in these classes through all three trimesters of pregnancy and absolutely enjoyed them. It’s also so great to be surrounded by women in the same place in their life and commiserate and share concerns and tips for this time in your life. They also offer workouts for post-partum recovery and total body workouts for all women. Their trainers hail from all over the world and have a wealth of knowledge on health and fitness during all the stages of a women’s life.
Brennan’s Prenatal Yoga Class
Third I am so excited to talk about an absolutely wonderful prenatal yoga class that I’ve discovered and that has become very dear to me. It’s run by a amazing mommy and yogi from her home and is the type of environment and vibe I’ve been envisioning for this entire pregnancy, I just wish I knew about it during my first pregnancy.
It’s a vinyasa yoga flow geared towards expectant mothers paired with pelvic floor work, breathing exercises and meditation all of which prepares a women for the big event that is childbirth. I look forward to one of the two pre-natal classes she holds each week and I feel like a new woman after. I leave feeling relief in my aching muscles, I feel confident for what’s to come and connected to my baby. I’ve been religiously attending this class during my second and third trimester and see myself going on right up till the end. I’ve also met other wonderful mommies at this class that I’ve been able to share this journey with. If you’re looking for the perfect prenatal yoga class then you can find her contact below.
Last but not least, I’ve walked a lot during this pregnancy and even more so during my pregnancy with Hero. When you can’t make it to a class or do much else then walking is always available to you and has countless benefits for expecting mothers. It’s free and can be done anywhere. It clears your mind and the rhythmic movement of your hips even helps to bring the baby down into position.
We need strong arms to lift our little ones, a strong back and shoulders to breastfeed, strong legs and glutes to withstand labor and flexible joints for everything in between. I hope that you find the perfect balance between exercise and rest for you individually. Remember this journey is yours alone and you get to decide what’s best for you. Follow your instincts and be kind to yourself before all else. Lots of love from me and my bump to yours.