Monday, January 31, 2011

30 Weeks and My Prenatal Exercise Routine

Hey greenies, I'm in the process of being "snowed in" as we speak! They're calling it "The Blizzard of 2011" here in the Midwest. The snow was pretty light this morning, but it has been steadily increasing as the day's gone on and they're predicting that we may get 18 inches or more! With that in mind, school has already been cancelled for tomorrow- woo hoo! B is home with me as well, and we're having a nice relaxing snow day with our two dogs...it would be way more fun if Avery was here too, but I'm sure we'll get to experience that next year! One of my favorite things about snow days is getting caught up on my blog posts, so here's a little update for you! I'm in my 30th week of pregnancy now and things are going great. As you can see from the pic to the left the students in my class (which range in age from 3-5 years old) have had a fun time watching my belly grow and feeling Avery move around and kick. You can see more pics of my 30 week belly in the exercise pics that follow. ( :

Last night we met with our midwife and that went great. She checked my blood sugar for gestational diabetes and my number was right on target at 95 (I wasn't fasting or anything and had a green smoothie about an hour beforehand) . She also measured my belly (or the more official term is measuring the "fundal height") which is the length in centimeters from my pubic bone to the top of my uterus when I'm lying down. Usually you want the measurement to be around the number of weeks you are pregnant (give or take 2 cm) and I'm at 30 weeks and I measured 30 centimeters. Way to go Avery! It's kind of fun because she uses the same paper tape measure each week, so we can look back and see what I measured back in November (when she started doing these measurements) to see how much I've grown since then and at the first measurement I was 20 centimetres. Keep on growing Avery! The last thing she checked was her heartbeat which sounded nice and clear. We will see our midwife again in 2 weeks, as our appointments are now 2 weeks apart instead of 4 since I'm getting closer to the end of my pregnancy! He he! ( :

Moving on, something I've been interested in posting about for awhile now is my prenatal exercise routine. Before I was pregnant, I would work out for about an hour and a half each day (1 hour-long workout in the morning before work, and then 30 minutes of yoga when I got home) and I feel very grateful to say that I've been able to keep that up throughout my pregnancy. Obviously my workouts have changed a little bit in how they are much lower-impact, and with more of an emphasis on stretching, but I still try to keep with that same amount of time. In fact, I can't imagine my pregnancy without my workouts! On those days when I feel lousy, large, and uncomfortable, I workout and I feel 10 times better! I feel like it helps with my mood, my overall energy level, coping with the common aches and pains of pregnancy, and the way I feel about my growing and changing body. There have been many interesting studies done on the benefits of exercise during pregnancy, one of which I will mention below, and another you can find here which found that a 20-minute exercise bike ride was found to be as effective as insulin given to pregnant women with gestational diabetes! Seriously, a 20 minute workout instead of taking insulin? Rock on prenatal exercise!

Let's get our workout on!

Let me share some details, resources, and pictures of my prenatal exercise routine. I will mention several workout DVDs below, all of which I tried out first on Netflix. I highly recommend you do that as well with any exercise DVD, because it gives you some "trial" time with it, so you can see if you like it before you end up spending your money on it. All of the DVDs I'll mention can be found on Netflix.com. Don't have a Netflix account? Try your local library or at least get them used on Amazon.com if you feel inclined to buy them first. Now on to the workouts...

Time to walk.
Walking: So one workout that I do every other day is to walk on the treadmill. Back in my pre-pregnancy days, I would run on my treadmill, but that stopped around month 2 or so of being pregnant because it just didn't feel comfortable and my energy was kind of low in the first trimester. Now I walk...but I do it for an hour. To challenge myself in this workout, I try to raise the incline every 5 minutes, so I end up at about 8.0 or 8.5. I used to increase the speed a little as well, but around week 28 or so, I started to get a little tightness in my abdomen when I did this, so I took it as I sign that I need to chill it out a little bit, so lately I've been keeping the speed a little lower. I love having a treadmill in my basement for a number of reasons: I can go workout anytime, I can watch tv (usually I'll pop in one of my favorite documentaries or shows I've "Tivoed" which currently include: The Biggest Loser, The Bachelor, or just some old episodes of The Office), or I read...I know reading on the treadmill is kind of weird, but I like it! Nearly all the topics I've posted about on this blog have come from books I've read while working out on the treadmill!

Fan, book, treadmill...and a bathroom near by, perfect for
a pregnant mama!

Here's my little treadmill set-up to the left featuring my "ghetto-rigged" fan, something I am infamous for (what can I say, I love air blowing right on me when I work out- lol!). This fan works great and it just sits on a chair, and although it's not exactly the best decorating feature of the room, it works for me! As you can see I usually have a book set up on the "dashboard" of the treadmill, and I alternate between reading or watching TV. One more benefit of working out at home is that I have a bathroom nearby at all times, which is a good feature when you have a baby pressing on your bladder when you're trying to workout!

Pilates time!
Pilates or Strength Training: The other workout that I alternate with walking is to do pilates. I found a great DVD in my early weeks of pregnancy that I do often called 10 Minute Solutions Prenatal Pilates. It is 50 minutes total and it has 5, 10-minutes segments: standing pilates, core pilates, pilates for buns and thighs, total body pilates, and pilates for flexibility. One of my favorite sections is "Core Pilates" because I figured that once I was pregnant, I couldn't do a single ab exercise for nine months, but that's not the case! In this section you do a variety of exercises (all with the support of a large pillow...I use a small couch cushion as you can see with the pic to the left) that help strengthen my abdominal and back muscles. Another feature I like about this DVD is that the pace is very quick. Since there are only 10 minutes allotted for each section the instructor, who is 36 weeks pregnant herself, goes very quickly through each exercise, which I love! Sometimes pregnancy workout DVDs go slow stinking slow it drives me mad...just because I'm pregnant doesn't mean I need to move as slow as a turtle, come on! So I love that this DVD doesn't waste anytime.

Still working those abs!

Before I was pregnant, I would alternate my treadmill workouts with a strength training workout, something I just created based on a number of workout DVDs I'd used in the past, taking a lot from Core Secrets (with an exercise ball and some free weights) as well as some Winsor pilates, and P90X. But since I'm pregnant, I tend to stick with this Prenatal Pilates DVD, and luckily it utilizes some strength training in two of the sections for which I use 3lb. weights, and it works well for me. Here I am to the right doing some more of the pilates DVD, a lot which takes place on your hands and knees...a common theme in prenatal workouts, but I don't mind. Pilates' emphasis on stretching and flexibility has really helped me feel great throughout my pregnancy and I think it's kept my body feeling strong and lean, despite the use of mega dumbbells or a heavy impact workout.

Here is a preview of the 10 Minute Solutions Prenatal Pilates DVD I mentioned above:


Yoga: The last workout I do on a daily basis is yoga. I love the way it feels as I stretch, practice deep breathing, and relax from my day. As if I wasn't sold enough on yoga as it is, I came across an interesting study that found if pregnant women did yoga for an hour a day (as compared to walking for an hour a day) that they were: less likely to have preterm labor, less likely to develop hypertension, and more likely to have an ideal-weight baby. Go yoga mommies!


As I mentioned before, I used to do yoga for about 30 minutes a day after getting home from work and since I've been pregnant this has continued...only now I do prenatal yoga! Granted some days when I'm feeling really tired, I just take a nap instead of yoga...but on most days, I try to do both. Back before I was pregnant, I posted about my favorite yoga DVD series: Namaste Yoga, in this post. And although I still love it, it moves a little quicker for me now and I find myself having to modify nearly every exercise so that I can comfortably do it. So, it wasn't long before I began searching for a good prenatal yoga DVD to take it's place. I believe I've found it with, "Anna Getty's Divine Mother Prenatal Yoga Series" DVD. I've scoured the Internet to try and find a video clip that best shows this DVD, but none were available...grrr, so I'll settle for a picture of the DVD I suppose! I love this DVD because it utilizes Kundulini yoga, a practice that I hadn't had much experience with in the past, but I've found that it feels extremely good now that I'm pregnant.

When I first started doing this DVD, I would finish and feel so much more energetic and more connected to my baby...probably because the movements are tailored to increase blood flow to your abdomen and baby, as well as stretch those areas that get tense and tight (back, hips, etc.) during pregnancy. Although there are additional sections on the DVD, I primarily do the "Floor Exercises" and "Standing Exercises", which together total about 45 minutes. Despite the old looking, retro-DVD cover, the DVD is actually very modern and features great music and a beautiful background...see note below about alternate DVD title. I also love that Anna, the instructor, has a voice-over narration during the workout, so that she isn't trying to lead the workout and talk at the same time (a yoga DVD pet peeve of mine). There are many exercises in this DVD that I feel help me prepare my body for labor and delivery, and some that I may even utilize during my labor so I love that! I highly suggest you try it out! *Just a note if you have a Netflix account, it is listed under the DVD title: "Anna Getty's Pre and Post Natal Workout". There are two discs included and the one with the workout I describe above, is on Disc 1. Not sure why there is a change in the title of the DVD, but this is the DVD I use for this workout.

Another yoga DVD that I like is: "Living Room Yoga with Eva Barash: Prenatal Workout". This workout is one hour long, so I usually don't do this one after work, but I do sometimes throw it in my morning workout rotation when I'm tired of treadmill, pilates, treadmill, pilates! I didn't think I would like this workout much because it seems kind of low budget, but the instructor does a good job of keeping the pace going and having a good balance of stretching and strengthening exercises that feel great for my growing pregnant body!

Here's a preview of her Living Room Yoga DVD Series (which does feature a few scenes from the prenatal yoga DVD):


The last yoga DVD I use often is "Yoga Journal's: Yoga for Your Pregnancy with Kristen Eykel". Although this DVD could be turned into an hour-long workout routine, I typically do the "Energizing Practice" which is about 30 minutes. I like using this DVD because it provides some variety to my yoga practice, the stretches feel very good as my belly continues to grow, and it helps me to relax. Two things I don't like about this video are: the slow speed, and the fact that the instructor takes forever to talk about each pose. As you can see from my discussion of the pilates video above, I like my workouts to flow right though from one exercise to another so when I have to pause for a minute or two in between each yoga position, it gets a little annoying. I try to just relax during those "talking breaks" and focus on my deep breathing, instead of trying to rush things along. All in all, it's a decent yoga DVD that gives me some variety, but it can't quite compare to the Anna Getty Yoga DVD to me.

Here's a preview of this DVD:



No matter how you workout when you're pregnant,
just make sure it's fun! ( :
So that's a nice long review of my prenatal exercise routine and some of my favorite workout DVDs that I use on a daily basis at this point in my pregnancy. I'm interested to see if I continue with the same workouts as my pregnancy progresses, or if I need to modify things a bit more as I get closer to the end. Either way, I'll keep you all posted! Feel free to post any questions you may have about my workout routine, or if you have any good prenatal exercise tips or favorite DVDs that you've used in the past. I'd love to hear about them!

3 comments:

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  2. Ashley, thanks for the inspiration! Your article is so thorough and comprehensive, great job. I'm a personal trainer and pilates instructor, and I'm 13 weeks pregnant. I have always loved working out, but never knew how challenging it would be for me to get up and go, until I became pregnant. I came across your blog during a week when I was feeling really fatigued and defeated. You have definitely motivated me to stay with my routine, even if I'm having a tough week and can only get in 3 workouts that week. Thanks again.

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  3. Hey Danielle! Glad you liked the post, I hoped it would be helpful for some other pregnant mommies out there, so I'm glad you could relate to it! That's so cool that you're a personal trainer and pilates instructor...I love pilates. Congrats on your pregnancy as well. Don't get discouraged with your decreased energy and motivation right now, I was in the same boat in those first trimester weeks. I remember thinking..."Oh great...I know all the benefits of exercising when pregnant, but if I can't even exercise now what am I going to do when I'm really big and pregnant?!" Luckily, my energy really increased when I entered into my 2nd trimester, or around weeks 15 or 16, and I felt stronger and back to my pre-pregnancy energy levels. So hopefully that will be coming up for you too!

    Keep up the comments on here, I'd love to keep hearing how your pregnancy is going! ( :
    Ashley

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