pregnant woman swimming as a form of exercise

6 Exercises To Prepare Your Body For Pregnancy

We get it, trying to conceive (TTC) is tiring. However, stave away the fatigue and laziness to squeeze in any of these 6 exercises and you’re sure to reap the benefits once you successfully conceive.

Life is a juggling act, no matter which stage you’re at. However, it’s probably toughest for working adults, who need to deal with a number of professional and personal commitments. There’s work and managing finances on one hand, and family and relationship responsibilities on the other. So many problems, so little time.

For couples who are TTC, it’s a mini juggling act all on its own. There’s just so much to take note of when you’re trying for a child, from the best time to have sex to the type of supplements that will help boost your fertility levels. It’s physically and mentally exhausting for both parties in a relationship.

However, ladies will benefit from finding an extra gear while they TTC. Squeezing some exercise in throughout the week is crucial to prepare your body for pregnancy, even though it might not seem like that’ll happen anytime soon.

Find out why, along with the best exercises that you can incorporate into your daily routine to prepare your body for pregnancy.

 

Why should you exercise to prepare your body for pregnancy?

Keeping fit while you’re TTC helps keep your fertility levels up [1]. You don’t need to commit to a full workout at the gym either. It can be as simple as brisk walking, skipping, or a quick Tabata training session. As long as your heart rate goes up and you’re moving your body, it counts as a physical activity. No, grabbing a snack while watching the latest horror film doesn’t count.

Another benefit of exercise would be that it helps you to have a pregnancy and childbirth that’s both healthy and safe. During these 9 months, your entire body will undergo dramatic changes as you progress through the trimesters, so it pays to build yourself up for this physically demanding change [2]. 

Lastly, staying physically active while you’re TTC reduces your stress levels. When you exercise, the levels of stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) in your body are reduced while the production of endorphins is stimulated [3]. High stress has the potential to affect your fertility in the short term as well, so you’d do well to keep it at bay [4].

 

What’s considered the right amount of exercise?

Fortunately, you won’t need to clock body builder-esque hours in the gym to prepare yourself for pregnancy. All you need is a consistent and moderate level of physical activity, which translates to around 30 minutes or more per day [5]. You can split your daily sessions up as well, so there’s no need to exercise for a full 30 minutes at one go.

However, if you’re a professional athlete or just someone with energy to burn, you’ll need to ensure that your diet is able to keep up with your exercise routine. You do not want to fall into an energy deficit because your body won’t be able to function optimally and your fertility starts to take a hit as well [6]. Maintaining a BMI that’s between 20 and 24.9 is ideal.

Either way, moderation is key. Likewise for your partner, who will benefit from incorporating exercise into his daily routine too. Research has shown that regular exercise can boost sperm quality [7], but too much of it can have the opposite effect instead.

The following 6 exercises are just some of the best ones out there that will help you to prepare your body for pregnancy.

Exercise 1: Swimming

Swimming is an activity that you can partake in while you’re TTC and after you become pregnant. It’s an enjoyable aerobic exercise that builds up your strength while having a relatively low impact on your body [8]. Furthermore, cold water or open water swimming has the potential to boost your immune system [9].

Exercise 2: Yoga

Practising yoga is a great way to relieve stress while keeping fit. There are many styles available that cater to practitioners of different experience levels. For women who are TTC, you’d want to pick up Hatha, Iyengar, Yin, or Restorative styles as these are gentler on the body [10]. Enter the poses at your own pace and don’t overstretch.

Exercise 3: Strength training

Don’t worry, you won’t need to approach the squat rack or stack the barbells silly. However, you will need to perform exercises that strengthen your abdominal and back muscles, like dumbbell rows or Russian Twists while you’re holding a weight. This is beneficial because your centre of gravity shifts when you’re pregnant, affecting your balance and posture [11].

Exercise 4: Kegel

Kegel exercises help to strengthen your pelvic floor, preventing problems like urine leakage or haemorrhoids from occurring when you’re pregnant [12]. Simply tighten your pelvic floor muscles for 5 seconds before relaxing for 5 more, repeat this several times every other day. As you progress, increase the length of time that you tighten your pelvic floor muscles for.

Exercise 5: Brisk walking

If you loathe running but find walking a chore, brisk walking provides a great balance. It’ll get your heart rate going but you’ll still be able to hold a conversation while making your way through the park or neighbourhood. What’s more, research has shown that regular walks can improve your chances of conceiving [13].

Exercise 6: Barre

Like swimming, barre is a relatively low-impact exercise. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t intense, with small, isolated movements that wear out your muscles during the workout. To be exact, barre workouts focus on strengthening your core and legs, which will ensure a more comfortable pregnancy and smoother delivery [14]. 

 

How can I ensure that I stick to my exercise routine?

Firstly, you can rope your partner in. Having someone accompanying you during your workouts will do wonders for your motivation. Take brisk walking for example. You can use this opportunity to catch up with your partner after work while you both sweat it out. It’s easier if both parties form a shared routine, rather than you just going at it alone.

Secondly, track your progress, whether it’s on a weekly or monthly basis. Having concrete evidence that your exercise routine is working will be a serious morale booster. It’ll serve as an excellent form of motivation to continue exercising even after you conceive. Additionally, you can add some milestones in the mix, encouraging you to put in a few extra reps or minutes into the mix.

Lastly, reward yourself. Sure, the main goal of exercising while you’re TTC is to get your body pregnancy-fit. However, giving yourself a nice pat on the back validates all your hard work. Whether it’s a cheat meal or a day out shopping, you deserve a treat for working extra hard to get your body in shape.

 

In closing

It’s not easy incorporating exercise into your daily routine while you’re trying for a child, but the benefits are more than worth it. Not only do your fertility levels benefit, but your body becomes ready for the 9-month-long challenge ahead.

It’s definitely a challenging juggling act, given how busy our days are as it is, but you’ll thank yourself for creating an exercise routine and sticking to it. It’s a wonderful habit that you’ll bring into pregnancy as well.

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Sources:
[1] Tommy’s, The Benefits Of Exercising/Being Active When Trying To Conceive, https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/planning-a-pregnancy/are-you-ready-to-conceive/being-active-when-trying-conceive
[2] Dotdash Meredith, Training For Pregnancy: How To Prep Your Body For Having A Baby, https://www.parents.com/pregnancy/pregnancy-training-how-to-prep-your-body-for-having-a-baby/
[3] Harvard Health Publishing, How Does Exercise Reduce Stress? Surprising Answers To This Question And More, https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/exercising-to-relax
[4] Dotdash Meredith, 7 Stress-Related Factors That Can Make It Harder To Get Pregnant, https://www.verywellfamily.com/can-stress-keep-you-from-getting-pregnant-1959951
[5] What To Expect, Exercise When You're Trying To Get Pregnant, https://www.whattoexpect.com/getting-pregnant/health-and-wellness/safeguard-your-health/exercise-before-pregnancy.aspx
[6] Nova IVF, How Much Is Too Much Exercise? The Relationship Between Exercise And Fertility, https://www.novaivffertility.com/case-study/how-much-too-much-exercise-relationship-between-exercise-and-fertility
[7] BBC, 'Exercise Boosts Men's Sperm Count', https://www.bbc.com/news/health-38206920
[8] Healthline Media, What You Should Know About Swimming During Pregnancy, https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/pregnancy-swimming
[9] Fertility Help Hub, Top 5 Recommended Exercises For Improving Fertility, https://www.fertilityhelphub.com/blog/natural-conception/exercises-for-fertility/
[10] Healthline Media, Try These Yoga Poses To Increase Your Fertility, https://www.healthline.com/health/infertility/fertility-yoga
[11] Dotdash Meredith, Fitness Dos & Don'ts For Getting Pregnant, https://www.parents.com/getting-pregnant/pre-pregnancy-health/exercise/fitness-tips/
[12] National Association For Continence, 4 Moves To Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor Before Getting Pregnant, https://www.nafc.org/bhealth-blog/4-moves-to-help-you-strengthen-your-pelvic-floor-before-you-get-pregnant
[13] University Of Massachusetts Amherst, For Women With A History Of Pregnancy Losses, Walking Is Associated With Increased Chance Of Becoming Pregnant, https://www.umass.edu/news/article/women-history-pregnancy-losses-walking
[14] Dotdash Meredith, The Prenatal Barre Workout You Can Do at Home, https://www.parents.com/pregnancy/my-body/fitness/prenatal-barre-workout-at-home/