Body Changes During Pregnancy

Updated: Apr 7, 2020

Breast Tenderness

Breast tenderness usually shows up early in your pregnancy and can definitely throw a wrench in your workout plans! Moving around with boobs that hurt every time they are jostled is not comfortable at all. Here are a couple recommendations that may come in handy:

  1. Try wearing two sports bras to strap those puppies down and keep them secure! Another solution that might work for you is buying a padded sports bra. These typically have more support than a regular, thinner sports bra and might keep the girls from moving around so much.

  2. On days that are especially bad and even two sports bras won’t work, do a low-impact workout that won’t cause so much jostling of your boobs. A few ideas for low impact workouts include resistance work with weights or bands, cycling or taking a walk.

Center of Gravity/Balance

As your belly grows, you may find that it’s harder to stay balanced. Imbalance is perfectly normal, and even expected during pregnancy – you’re carrying more weight on the front half of your body. A common mistake in pregnancy, as your belly gets bigger, is to tilt your booty in and stick your belly even farther out to compensate for that weight. However, there is a better way to counteract the imbalance you are dealing with. Stretch out those tight muscles at the front of your body – such as your quads and hip flexors – and work on strengthening your postural  and booty muscles. (Postural muscles are the ones that keep you in an upright position – the muscles in your back and sides.)

As far as workouts go, don’t be afraid to use assistance when needed for exercises that feel unstable. There’s no shame in that at all. Your body may adjust to these changes and you may find your balance again or you may need to use assistance and/or modify throughout your whole pregnancy and that is A-ok! When working out at home, you can use a chair, countertop, wall or anything else that is readily available to help you balance. 

Joint and Ligament Pain

Your growing body puts a lot of stress on your joints and ligaments and can be painful at times! This added stress or pain can have an impact on your workout routine and put you at risk of injury.

To lower the risk of injury or additional soreness make sure that your properly warm up, cool down, and stretch or foam roll any time you workout. And keep in mind that the amount of time needed for these activities is different for every person. Make sure you are listening to your body and taking the proper amount of time that YOU need. If you’re doing a video and you don’t feel warm enough, pause it and continue warming up until you’re ready. Same thing goes for stretching. If a workout ends and you don’t feel cooled down or stretched out enough, take a few extra minutes to cool down and stretch. (Check out my “Stretches to Give your Relief” article to give you some ideas for stretching!) Keep in mind that stretching is also very individualized. The later in pregnancy you are, the less you should be stretching as the laxity in your joints increases. Try foam rolling instead of stretching.

For days that you are really feeling unstable or sore, take it easy! There’s no shame in taking a day or two off to let your body rest and recover. If you feel good enough to workout, but not totally yourself, do a low-impact workout that doesn’t require a lot of side to side movement.

Body Temperature

As your body works overtime for you and baby, you may notice that you get hot quicker and sweat more easily. You may have heard that, as a pregnant woman, you should not let your heart rate get over 140 beats per minute. This is not necessarily true. An easier way to monitor you effort level is through what we call the Rate of Perceived Exertion. Take the activity you are doing and rate it’s difficulty level for you on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the most difficult thing you could be doing. If you are getting up into the 8-10 range, you are probably working too hard and should dial down a bit. Conversely, if you’re working out and your RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) is only at a 2 or 3, you should probably ramp it up a bit. Another way to track your exertion level is through a ‘talk test’. If it is relatively easy for you to carry on a conversation while doing what you are doing, you are probably ok. However, if you are finding it hard to talk, you should slow it down. Keep in mind that these are just tools for your tool belt. There is not one size fits all solution and you need to do what feels best for you.

Another helpful reminder is to drink LOTS OF WATER. You can easily dehydrate during exercise if you are not drinking enough water consistently. And I don’t mean just during the workout – you need to be drinking water all day long! But during the workout, don’t be afraid to pause or step away from the class or session if you are feeling thirsty and need a break. Step away, rehydrate and get back at it!

Cardiovascular Changes

One of the great benefits of pregnancy is that your heart becomes much more efficient at pumping blood throughout your body. You may find you’re better at cardio exercises than you were before – listen to your body and see if you can go for a few minutes longer than normal! Now, you may not be better at your maximum cardio output, i.e., you probably won’t be running sprints faster; indeed you probably should not be running sprints. But you may find that at a moderate cardio level you may be able to do more than you’d think. Please keep in mind to monitor your heart rate and how you feel. If you feel you are breathing too fast or getting light headed, take a break and rest. (Look back up to #4 for some ideas on how to monitor your heart rate)

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