How Your Training and Nutrition Should Change Throughout Pregnancy

Image: Getty

Image: Getty

When we’re pregnant we want to do our best to eat healthy and be active, but that isn’t always easy when nausea kicks in or it feels as though we’ve swallowed a bowling ball. Not to mention the judgement from seemingly everyone questioning everything from if that salad for lunch is enough to sustain mum and baby to whether a running pace is safe. It can all make many women feel like spending 40 weeks beached on the couch knee deep in Netflix and carbs. While that’s obviously OK on some days, research is clear that when it comes to pregnancy, ANY activity is better than no activity, even if it’s just a short, slow walk through the neighborhood.

“If you’re dealing with a lot of morning sickness or a lack of energy, I recommend talking to your doctor about supplements or medications that will help you feel better so you can move more, even if it’s just light exercise,” says Nancy Anderson founder of Move Your Bump. “Something’s better than nothing and when you do start to feel better, don’t be afraid to start ramping up your intensity. The benefits of moderate exercise for your baby and you are just too great to miss out on, so do it if you can.”

That said, pregnancy can be tough for some women, and they can end up feeling very dehydrated and fatigued, especially in the first trimester. “For these mums, I think it’s important they don’t force themselves through tough workouts. Even if you feel good most of the time, there’s no need to push yourself through a workout when you really just don’t have the energy for it.”

What about “bad” food cravings during pregnancy? 

Ideally,  Anderson says, you’ll start to optimize your diet before you’re pregnant so you can go into pregnancy with better habits. “This includes getting things out of the house that you know you tend to crave or overeat!”

That said, we all know that food cravings and aversions are common in every trimester of pregnancy and sometimes they stem from your body asking for something that it needs for optimal function. “But I think it’s important to note, if your brain is a bit ‘hijacked’ by grains and sugar, then you may be more triggered to want more and more of those types foods, which may not be your body asking for something it actually ‘needs,’ but more something that it’s craving, which can get you stuck in a cycle of even more intense food cravings that may not be the healthiest choices for Mum or baby,” says Anderson. “For better or worse, the solution is simple: prioritize lean proteins, fruits and veggies. When you make whole nutrient-dense foods the bulk of your diet, you’ll start to rewire your brain and gut so that you’ll naturally crave the foods that are actually nourishing you and your baby. Then, you can choose to enjoy unhealthier foods in moderation, provided that a treat here and there doesn’t turn into an entire day of sub-optimal food choices.” And don’t forget to drink plenty of water! Especially in the first trimester when the ground work is being laid out for the baby, it’s so important to stay hydrated.

On the flip side, for the active mum who is super eager to keep training at the level she’s been training at, Anderson says she continue to do so as there is good data to support its safety. “This is, of course, assuming she’s having a normal healthy pregnancy and watching for signs of intolerance, like urinary leakage or increase doming in the abdomen.”

That doesn’t mean, however, that women can continue their training and nutrition regimen without any modifications – no matter how in shape they are. “Some women may end up needing to modify or avoid certain movements at different stages of pregnancy simply because they start to lose the ability to maintain good form and function while doing so, and not necessarily because it’s dangerous, but this is on a highly individualized basis and not as a general rule,” says Anderson. “And the thing is, we really don’t want pregnant women training with poor form, poor posture, or core dysfunction because that can make postnatal recovery so much harder. Whether you’re a lightly active person or a competitive athlete, it’s smart to incorporate breath work, core and pelvic floor training and posture work into your pregnancy exercise plan. It’ll help you stay functional, avoid diastasis and pelvic floor dysfunction and also help you recover easier once baby arrives.”

How important are supplements in this equation?

Supplements are extremely important with pregnancy, according to Anderson. “Between stress levels, the standard American diet, food processing and handling practices, environmental toxins, and other factors, it’s just really hard these days to get all the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients we need through our diet alone, even if we’re eating the best quality food we can find and fit into our budget. When you become pregnant you are now nourishing two people instead of one, you end up drawing even more from your body’s well of nutrients. Taking supplements is a good way to make sure that well is deep!”

While she underlines that it’s important to work with your doctor to optimize your supplement routine throughout your pregnancy journey, broadly speaking, Anderson says, most women do well with a general prenatal, something for their gut health (like a high quality probiotic), magnesium, vitamin D3 and omega 3 fatty acids. If you’re dealing with nausea at the beginning and can’t keep anything down speak with your doctor about a simple iron/folic acid combo as they tend to be easy to swallow and are both vital during pregnancy.

Did you pay attention to training and nutrition while you were pregnant?

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