Are you Fit Enough To Be A Mom? What You Need To Know About Exercise & Conception

A lot of women ask me if they should ease on their workout regime or stop exercising when trying to conceive. They consciously plan for a baby and naturally wonder if too much exercise can hurt their chances.

There are few questions that need to be answered when it comes to exercise and getting pregnant.

  • Can physical activity negatively affect conceiving?
  • Do I need to reduce or increase the intensity of training when I’m planning to conceive?
  • What should I focus on in my exercise?

There are no clear guidelines when it comes to exercise and conception. It all depends on your health care provider who most likely will encourage you to do some exercise, but there is not enough research on what’s the optimal amount of exercise that would be good for conception. Most likely your training won’t need to change that much. What research confirms, is that a daily dose of exercise will improve your fertility and reduce the risk of infertility brought about by ovulation disorders.

If you are a professional athlete with very low body fat, your training will need adjustment. In your case, excessive training will affect your fertility in a negative way. You will need a little more body fat for your body to carry a pregnancy. If you are a professional athlete whose body fat is normal, but you train at high-intensity levels for more than an hour a day, you will need to adjust your training as well.

Dr. Schoolcraft says that intense exercise sessions cause the body to break down the protein into muscle, producing ammonia, a pregnancy-inhibiting chemical. The bottom line is: if your weight is healthy, have a normal menstrual history, can effectively manage stress, exercise will positively affect your fertility. Keep exercising; there is no need to reduce on your workout routine. In some cases, you may need to increase the length of your daily routine to 30-1h of moderate exercise every day. The key is finding balance.

A pre-pregnant workout should be specific. You should focus your training on:

  • Pelvic stability,
  • Core strength,
  • Flexibility.

You will be ahead of the game if you focus on these three elements in your training.

When I say pelvic stability I don’t mean you should only do Kegels. And when I say core strength I don’t mean crunches. Six pack is not a sign of core strength. It is a sign of low body fat.

Pelvic stability and core strength go hand in hand. Pelvic stability refers to the ability of the torso, the hip, the pelvis and the surrounding muscles to keep the spine and pelvis in optimal alignment. In short your butt, lower back, pelvic floor, and upper back muscles are a part of it. Train them. Include different variations of hip bridges, planks, and rotational movements. Become aware of the “pulling in and up” movements on your pelvic floor muscles when you are engaging your core. Rows and pull-ups should be a part of your strength training too.

Remember that we all have a certain degree of pelvic instability, and postural instability (rounding of upper back) caused by our lifestyles, repetitive motion etc. All these instabilities will most likely increase due to hormonal changes during pregnancy, and the resulting changes in your body to accommodate the fetus. Try to work on these instabilities before you get pregnant. You will get stronger and hopefully avoid lower back pain, pubic pain, sciatica pain etc. There is a popular belief that lumbar lordosis increases during pregnancy, but research has shown that this is actually not true. The opposite happens, so lower back pain during pregnancy may be caused by hormonal changes and weight gain. If you work on strengthening your back before you get pregnant, hopefully, you will avoid the pain. Your core muscles will be challenged by pregnancy. They will work overtime. During labor, they will play an essential role in pushing the baby out. Get them ready.

When it comes to flexibility, increased production of relaxin may lead to over flexibility in some women. In that case, don’t push it. Keep your joints within the normal range of motion.

Stretch gently on regular basis. Open up your hips and hip flexors. Certain stretching positions will help you relax.

Now that you have the right information, go ahead, hit the gym, have some fun and wait for a positive pregnancy test. It will come.

Sources

  • The Athletic Mom- to – be: Training Your Way Into Pregnancy and Motherhood. Jennifer Faraone; Dr. Carol Ann Weis.
  • http://www.spineuniverse.com/conditions/back-pain/back-pain-during-pregnancy
  • http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/health/pregnancy/how-exercise-affects-fertility/
About the Author : Ania Schietzelt
Ania Schietzelt
Ania Schietzelt NASM Personal Trainer and mom of 2 living in NYC. On a mission to find healthy balance through exercise in her life and help other women to do the same, because “the greatest gift you can give your family and the world, is a healthy You”.

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