If you have decided to get pregnant, and you have your own small family, it is time that you start taking care of yourself. The fitter the mother, the healthier will be the baby. Staying healthy during your pre-pregnancy period can also increase your chances of successful conception.
Staying fit while planning for a baby requires maintaining a well-balanced diet along with an exercise regimen to maintain an ideal weight. Apart from including all the essential food items in your meals, you must pay attention to your daily workout regimen. There are certain fitness dos and don'ts for getting pregnant that you should know, before you hit the treadmill.
Can I Exercise While Trying to Get Pregnant?
A lot of women are not entirely convinced about whether exercising while trying to get pregnant is a good idea. You might find yourself pondering over the question too - 'can I exercise while trying to get pregnant?' However, to put it in one line, loud and clear, for all to know:
Yes! You can (rather, you should) exercise while trying to conceive.
Exercise in general has a lot of benefits (which have been discussed below). However, one thing you should remember about working out while trying to conceive is that you should never over-do it. There is such a thing as 'too much exercise' (just as there is such a thing as 'too much food'). Your body needs to be well-rested in order for it to conceive. Pregnancy is a costly affair for the woman's body, and if you keep on exerting yourself by exercising too much, without allowing your body to replenish itself, that is going to go against your goal of trying to conceive.
How Can Exercise Help When You Are Trying To Conceive
Exercise is not something that is directly linked to pregnancy. However, all the positive benefits of exercising will no doubt make you predisposed to successful conception!
Exercise Decreases Stress
If you haven't been in the habit of exercising, then getting into it at this point can give you your much needed forty minutes to one hour of complete undivided 'me-time'. That in itself can be a great way to clear your mind and destress. Apart from that, the group of hormones called endorphins that exercise releases in the body alone are a great reason why exercise will help you destress.
Exercise Helps Maintain Regular Weight
Body weight and pregnancy are closely linked. It has been found that women who are overweight or obese find it much more difficult to conceive than women who are at a healthy bodyweight. In fact, being overweight is also linked to other issues around pregnancy – infertility, miscarriages, and high-risk deliveries, to name a few.
Exercise Helps You Sleep Better
One of the best ways to get rid of all sleep-related problems is to set yourself a regular and good exercise routine. It has been concluded from several studies that insomnia is a big factor in problems while trying to conceive. Exercise will help you tire your body out in a natural, healthy way, and you will be able to fall asleep without having to rely on any routine/habit (reading a book, watching TV, etc.).
Exercise Strengthens Your Core
Having a strong core is very important for a woman who is planning to conceive. This will not only help you in having a better posture, but it will also prove to be beneficial after the delivery of your baby. During pregnancy, a woman's belly grows, breasts become bigger in size and a lot of strain is put on her body, as the body needs to focus on the development of the foetus. Exercising your core muscles will strengthen the pelvic region, your lower back, and uterine muscles which are vital for carrying the weight of a pregnant belly.
Best Exercises to Get Pregnant
Not only does exercising help you lose weight, and keep you in a general overall good mood, but it can also help you conceive. Here are some of the best exercises you can try for working out while trying to conceive.
When you get in labour, neither you nor the doctor really knows how long it's going to last. Some women pop their baby out within a matter of minutes; others go through hours and hours of painful labour before they can hold their baby in their arms. However, women who have actively paid attention to their health and are in the habit of doing cardiovascular exercises on a daily basis, are better able to keep their stamina through labour. A good cardio routine will build your stamina and keep you strong through your entire motherhood journey – from conception to childbirth, and beyond!
The simplest, easiest, and most effective form of cardio is walking. What's more, you do not have to do anything extra/special to incorporate walking in your schedule. One way to get started on walking as an exercise is to first start walking while running your daily errands. Once you get into the habit of doing this, you can then engage in targeted walking for exercise. This kind of walking should be carried out non-stop for a minimum of forty minutes, and the pace should be brisk (a little faster than your normal walking).
It is advisable to not run if you are overweight. However, about a couple of months of walking can make you fit enough for at least starting to jog. If you have been wondering 'is jogging good for pregnancy', the answer is 'yes'. The best way to check your body's readiness for running is to assess how tired you feel during your walk. If you find yourself feeling comfortable even after your daily forty minute walk, it is time to speed things up!
Any form of cycling – whether it is the stationary cycle in the gym, the spinning cycle, or an actual cycle – will be beneficial for you if you are trying to conceive. The best benefit of cycling will be well-toned thigh muscles, which is a great plus during delivery.
Swimming is a great way to exercise your entire body, from head to toe. It takes care of your arms, legs, belly, and even your glutes! A good forty minute session can help you burn up to 600 calories! Isn't that great? Not just that, swimming will also help you tone your muscles and skin. Finally, it is a very low-impact exercise that is still very effective.
Yoga is undoubtedly one of the best exercise to get pregnant. The spiritual aspect of yoga is an added bonus that it offers, which other exercises do not. Yoga can help you keep yourself flexible, thereby making childbirth less painful, and can also help you destress and declutter your mind. An important aspect of exercising that yoga actively and consciously focuses on is breathing, especially deep-breathing. This will help you during childbirth too.
Another exercise that works on both body and mind is Pilates. Pilates can actually allow you to get in sync with your thoughts, whilst engaging in healthy physical activity. Another benefit of this form of exercise is that it is very flexible. Walking, or cycling, allows for only one kind of motion or movement. In Pilates, depending on the set of exercises you choose, you can focus on building strength of targeted muscles in the body.
Weight training is not just for muscle-building or body-building, and no you will not look all beefed up and manly if you do weight training! In fact, weight-training is an extremely effective way and a targeted approach to strengthening all the important muscles that need to be strong in order for you to have an easy delivery. One piece of advice: do not engage in weight training unsupervised. It is very easy to go horribly wrong and injure yourself. Exercise caution.
Tips on Exercising When Trying To Conceive
Exercise in general has a lot of positive benefits for the body. However, 'exercise' and 'getting pregnant' are more closely related/connected than we realise. From the point of view of exercising to conceive, here are a few tips you should remember.
Set an Exercise Routine
The expecting mother's health is directly related to the health of her baby. It is essential for every woman to exercise or adopt a fitness program to keep herself in shape. This proves helpful during the critical days of early pregnancy. Exercising on a regular basis will help a woman in avoiding a lot of problems an expecting mother might face during her later months of pregnancy, such as leg cramps, excess weight gain, bloating, constipation, gestational diabetes. It helps in improving stamina which will aid during labour and childbirth. Apart from it, it will also help a mother to quickly recover after her delivery.
Prepare an Activity Chart
Prepare an activity chart for the day. This will help you to stay active and energetic. If you are not able to follow the routine on certain days, you should plan on some alternatives like yoga or swimming. Swimming is an activity recommended by a lot of doctors during pregnancy. As discussed earlier, it has zero impact and helps in toning up the muscles in your entire body. This is especially helpful during the latter months of pregnancy.
Keep Yourself Hydrated
As clichéd as it may sound, it is indeed important to drink a lot of water throughout the day. Dehydration can be harmful for your body and your growing baby. Fluids are needed by the kidneys to efficiently filter the waste out.
Don't Do Intense Workouts / Don’t Over-Exert
Some women may be into a vigorous exercising routine on a daily basis. You must take it easy when you are trying for a baby. Modify your workout and cut-down on the high-intensity activities which make you jerk, stress, jump and pick up heavy weight for it may reduce your chances of conception. For those who cannot resist exercising, they can opt for walking, yoga and swimming after consulting a doctor. An over-stressed body is not a good ground for conception.
Don’t Focus On Losing Weight
Many of us strive to be in proper shape to stay slim and fit. However, when you are planning to get pregnant, you need to focus on a healthy diet and develop proper eating habits in order to maintain a healthy weight, rather than just look slim and trim.
Do Not Engage In Risky Activities
It is best to avoid activities that pose the risk of getting hurt, especially near the abdomen area. Keep away from sports that involve the risk of falling or injuring your muscles in activities such as horse riding, skiing, football etc. Keep these dos and don’ts in mind when you plan the big step in your life, so that you do not face any difficulties in realising your dream.
Do Not Overheat Yourself
Try not to exercise in a closed room where you end up overheating yourself. Go for an air-conditioned room or exercise outdoors so that you sweat a lot. Wear loose clothes that do not restrict the flow of air.
Get Your Workout Routine Approved By a Doctor
Once you get the good news that you have conceived, you must consult with your doctor about your exercise regimen. Your healthcare provider might ask you to abstain from certain exercises that can harm your baby. So check with him before continuing with your daily workout.
Sample Exercise Routine For A Woman Trying To Conceive
Benefits of Pre Pregnancy Exercise
From the point of view of trying to conceive, the benefits of pre-pregnancy fitness are as follows:
Exercise builds immunity. Exercise promotes the circulation of the 'lymphatic fluid' that helps in carrying antibodies around. Good immunity means good health, and a healthy body is better equipped to bear children than one that is unhealthy!
Regular exercising pre-pregnancy is shown to reduce risk of gestational diabetes. It has also been suggested that mothers who actively exercise before getting pregnant have a much lower chance of having to undergo a C-sectional delivery.
Exercise is known to have a positive impact on women suffering from PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome); it helps to regularise your ovulation and period cycle. Exercise is hence going to help you increase your chances of getting pregnant.
One of the biggest cause behind the cramping that women feel during menses is the excessive visceral fat that has built up in their body. Exercise will help you keep your fat levels in check, and will hence make periods less painful too, along with regularising them. And regular periods mean better chances of conceiving!
Exercise During Fertile Days
Your most fertile days are those around your ovulation (up to two days before and after ovulation). A lot of women complain of severe cramps during or around ovulation.
Cramping does not occur only during menses; it may also occur during ovulation. Cramping during ovulation is known as Mittelschmerz (German: mittel = middle, schmerz = pain; pain in the middle of the cycle). For some women mittelschmerz is also accompanied with a slight spike or drop of blood pressure. As a result, they may experience dizziness too.
Exercising under such circumstances may seem daunting for most women, and admittedly, it might not be safe – if you are feeling dizzy while you are trying to work out, you might fall and injure yourself.
Having said that, you can engage in very light physical activity to keep the discipline. Floor exercises that require less movement but yet allow you to work on your body might be good around these days. Refrain from getting down on all fours, performing core-strengthening exercises, or exercises that require you to balance yourself on your legs, or alternate legs.
The best kind of exercises would be stretches. For lower body stretching, sit down on the floor. For upper body stretching, you may sit on a chair or stool.
Fertility Boosting Exercises
Of all the different exercises that are recommended for pre-pregnancy fitness, Yoga is the one that has been found to be exceptionally beneficial.
There are different asanas in yoga that help people tackle with different issues with the body: some help you fight back-pain, other help you improve the tone of your arms and legs. Similarly, there are several yogasanas that can help you conceive.
WATCH: Yoga Poses To Boost Fertility
Speaking of the spiritual angle of yoga, there is a lot that women can benefit from this exercise. Yoga allows for you to truly unite mind, body, heart, and soul. We have all heard of 'what goes around comes around'; yoga give you a chance to use this powerful maxim in your favour. Seeding yourself with positive thoughts about your pregnancy, your baby, and visualising a fulfilling future for yourself might actually help you attract it in reality.
Exercise for PCOS to Get Pregnant
If you have PCOS and have already consulted a doctor about it, chances are that your doctor has already told you to get on the treadmill! Exercise is closely linked with PCOS and almost all women who have PCOS are told to get into a good fitness routine.
Exercise will help you shed weight, which works in favour of regularising your cycle and getting rid of PCOS. The best part is: even simple cardio like brisk walking is shown to have positive effects. So you don't have to get onto an extremely intense regime.
At the same time, if you have PCOS, chances are that regular/routine exercise may not be enough to keep your weight in check. Matters become worse if you have other problems like thyroid. Along with these two problems individually making it tough to conceive, together they will also make losing weight seem like an uphill task. In such a case, you might have to also start dieting.
However, always bear in mind that: none of these decisions should be taken individually. Consultation with a doctor is a must.
Risk Factors to Be Considered
If you are in the habit of exercising regularly already, your job is half done. All you have to do is consult your doctor and trainer about the specific exercises you can take to improve your chances for getting pregnant.
If, however, you are just starting out with exercising, there are several things you need to consider, which might prove as risk factors for starting to exercise:
Level of physical activity: if you are basically someone who gets up, does her daily chores, and goes to bed every day, without actively engaging in some sort of physical activity, you are going to have to start slow. Suddenly starting with an intense routine to 'fast-track' things might result in you ending up hurting yourself. Your body needs to gradually get into the habit of exercising. Start with walking, and then increase the physical intensity of your workout.
Level of sedentary lifestyle: do you sit for more than half of your waking hours? It's time for change! A sedentary routine is the biggest bane of our modern lifestyle. Add to that, our seating posture is often incorrect, and in the long run gives rise to different kinds of joint pains and body ache. If you are suffering from any such chronic pain, you need to address that first, before you start exercising.
Weight: if you are overweight or obese, it might not be a good idea to engage in heavy physical activity; especially, weight training and any kind of heavy-impact exercises are a bad idea. This is because, due to the additional weight that your body frame is supporting, you are going to end up hurting yourself more than you will benefit from doing these exercises. Imagine jumping down from a stool with no excess baggage, and with a gunny-sack weighing 10kg placed on your back – your knees might get hurt in the second instance. The same happens when you are overweight and do intense workouts.
Injury: if you have suffered any kind of injury in your recent past that limited your physical movement, you might want to check with a doctor before resuming your normal level of physical activity or engaging in an exercise routine.
Medical history/post-operative phase: if you have recently undergone an operation, or have a medical history that limits your physical activity, do not start an exercise routine without getting it approved by the doctor first.
So that was all about exercises to help get pregnant. As a parting thought we would like to say: a healthy body and mind automatically predisposes you to conceiving a baby. Rather than simply losing weight, or getting pregnant, exercise with the aim of becoming 'fit'. Once that is taken care of, everything else will fall in place. Good luck!