Only one in four women get enough physical activity during pregnancy, according to a 2010 article from WebMD. Among female endurance athletes, however, the scale sometimes tips the other way.
You might have heard the stories: Professional athletes training for and running marathons while pregnant, amateurs pushing themselves too hard and women gaining inadequate weight due to exercise to the detriment of both themselves and their babies.
More: Pilates for Pregnancy
Is there a happy medium—a way to exercise, promote wellbeing, and gain weight adequately? It's possible, if you follow a few nutrition rules.
As an endurance athlete myself, I ran and worked out through all four of my pregnancies, and delivered healthy babies each time.
Here's what you need to know to have a healthy relationship with fitness during your pregnancy.
A Few Warnings
Before you get started, keep these four important rules in mind.
1. A pregnant women should always get clearance from her health care provider before continuing to exercise.
2. The information here is for healthy women with low-risk pregnancies and no complications. A great resource for pregnant female athletes is Fit Pregnancy for Dummies by Catherine Cram, MS.
3. Be honest with your provider about your workout plans. If your doctor is ill informed he or she could give you the wrong advice such as providing the out-of-date recommendation that you must maintain a maximum heart rate of 140 beats or less per minute. In this case, it's important you find a new provider or further explore the subject with your current one.
4. Exercise should never be used as a means to gain less weight. Most healthy, fit women should aim to gain around 25 pounds during pregnancy. To gain this amount while you work out, you must be proactive and maintain proper pregnancy nutrition.
5 Pregnancy Nutrition Recommendations
1. Pre-Workout Snack
Always consume pre-training fuel before working out. If you exercise first thing in the morning, hydrate with up to 8 ounces of fluid before, and eat a snack of 15 to 30 grams of carbohydrates such as a banana or two dates.
During pregnancy, blood sugars are more susceptible to moving out of their normal range. With all the extra demands on your body, proper pregnancy nutrition requires you to take in an adequate amount of carbohydrates. This will help your body sustain healthy blood sugar levels throughout your workout.