When monitoring intensity of exercise while pregnant, it's important to use the "talk test." This means that if you can talk comfortably while you are exercising, the intensity is just right. Doctors used to recommend that a pregnant woman's heart rate not exceed 140 beats per minute, but that rule no longer applies. The "talk test" is an easier and effective way to monitor your exercise while pregnant. Depending on your stage of pregnancy, you might not be able to get into certain positions, like lying on your back or on your stomach. In order to keep your core strong during and after pregnancy, planks are a fantastic exercise (see video in post Challenge #2 - Water & Exercise). While you probably don't want to take up any new sports or try to learn a completely new way to exercise while pregnant, you can safely continue with your current regimen while modifying as needed (always check with your doctor!). If you need extra help, seek out a pre/post natal exercise specialist in your area. I also highly recommend checking out some pre-natal yoga classes!
You know your body better than anyone else. Listen to it.
Your doctor will give you the necessary vitamins and supplements to take during your pregnancy, and typically these will include the following: Vitamin B12, Folate, Vitamin D, Calcium, Iron, Zinc, and Fatty Acids. During your second and third trimesters protein intake should also be increased by about 25 grams per day. LOTS of lean protein and veggies are key. In fact, a pregnant woman can easily follow the 5 Simple Tips to Eating Healthier I recently posted. Always choose whole foods over supplements as a way to get all important vitamins and minerals.
You are going to gain weight when pregnant, and the best way to ensure a quick bounce back after you deliver is to focus on high quality foods and to keep moving! Sugars, transfats, fast foods, and all of those bad foods that taste good are bad for pregnancy. If they are bad for you, certainly you don't want your baby to ingest them! By eating a whole food based diet, most women should expect to gain the following amounts of weight (Precision Nutrition):
-Underweight/average women gain 25-35lbs
-Overweight women gain no more than 15-25lbs
-Women 5'2" and under gain 10-25lbs
Of course your doctor will give you the specific details on what you individually should expect out of your pregnancy with guidelines to follow. It is likely that you can continue the same nutrition plan you were on while pregnant when you are nursing.
What are they keys to a quick bounce back? Stellar nutrition focused on whole foods (lean protein, fruits and veggies, whole grains) and commitment to an appropriate exercise routine. Take care of yourself better than you ever have while you grow your baby. The reward is not only a quicker return to your pre-pregnancy state but also a healthy, happy baby!