Bumpin' Prenatal fitness tips

_be_8083_edited_web-rebecca-editedHI! I’m Rebecca and I am the gal behind Be Naturally Fit. I live in Vancouver with my husband and two daughters and I love to go hiking, cook up delicious vegan food and travel with my family. I am a health and fitness coach who is passionate about helping women be body-positive and to elevate and transform their lifestyles.

I lead classes at Barre Fitness, train small groups, and educate and encourage women through FIT CLUB, my online fitness and health program. I believe that women will find their strength and regain their best health through exercise, nutrition, and mindfulness. Most of my clients are new or expecting moms and I love helping them focus on getting active and strong in both body and mind during and after their pregnancies.

During both of my pregnancies I kept up with my workouts but I modified them as my belly grew.

Exercising during pregnancy helped me feel more comfortable in my own skin, gave me energy, and helped prepare me for childbirth.

I also practiced prenatal yoga which kept my back pain at bay and helped me connect with the baby inside me.

Because I was active right up to the births of both my girls, getting back to my workouts wasn’t too daunting. I listened to my body and was out walking within two weeks of a birth. I recovered especially quickly after my second daughter was born and I ran a half-marathon five months postpartum! But more important than that, I learned how to love and accept my new body because it had done something truly amazing—brought new life into this world.

During my first pregnancy, I cleaned up my diet and went vegetarian. No more late-night McDonald’s fries or greasy pizza with all the meat! I experienced morning nausea until I discovered that I could ward it off by eating a big, well-balanced breakfast. With both pregnancies I experienced quite a few food aversions so I supplemented my diet with a prenatal vitamin to ensure that my baby and I were getting everything we needed.

Is it safe to work out during pregnancy?

It’s not only safe but highly recommended! Working out while pregnant (with your doctor’s permission of course) is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your baby. Exercise keeps oxygen running through your system, improves your sense of well-being, and prepares you for the hard work of childbirth and postpartum recovery.

Can I continue my normal workout patterns while pregnant?

Yes, continuing what you’re already doing is a great idea as your body is conditioned for those activities. The key is to know when to scale it back according to your energy levels and the awkwardness of your growing bump, If you are a long-distance runner, you will want to slow the pace and consider shorter distances. If you are lifting weights in the gym you need to keep excellent form (I suggest getting help from a coach) and reduce the weights as you get farther along in your pregnancy.

Can I try out new workouts/activities while pregnant?

This one really depends: workouts to start when you are pregnant are those that focus on core and alignment and can be easily modified throughout the pregnancy. I suggest Barre Fitness classes for my pregnant clients as all of the instructors are trained in pre- and post-natal Barre technique and can watch new clients for any potential alignment issues.

I encourage my clients to listen to their bodies. If they are comfortable with a certain workout (whether it’s yoga, pilates or cross-fit), they should carry on according to the capacity of their own bodies. A pregnant body is a changing body and only the mom-to-be knows what feels best.

However, if you have diastasis recti (separation of the abdominal wall), starting anything new is NOT RECOMMENDED as you don’t want to worsen the separation by doing something you are unfamiliar with. Stick to Barre, yoga and strength training that focuses on the legs, glutes and arms.

Is there a preferred workout activity for pregnant women that will give them the most benefits?

I believe that it’s important to train women to feel strong and fit while they go through the changes and challenges of pregnancy and delivery. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all program for working out while pregnant Close-up view of young pregnant woman doing morning yoga exercise after waking up at home. Yogi female model sitting cross-legged on the bed and meditatingas we are all unique.

I recommend that pregnant women stay strong through some form of strength and resistance training. Focus on the posterior chain (glutes, hamstrings, and back muscles) to better support the growing bump up front. I have my pregnant clients perform deadlifts, weighted squats, glute bridges, and lunges. At Barre Fitness we train arms with light weights and high reps, legs with pliés and squats, and glutes with a flat-back series and power-butt moves (aka glute bridges).

Here is one of the workouts that my pregnant and postpartum members do three times a week: 

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