Meet Mia, a yoga teacher and certified nutritionist who focuses on exercising her body and mind on a daily basis through yoga, weight training, swimming, and cardio. She drowns out the noise of pregnancy exercise myths by staying connected with her body and trusting herself.
What was the biggest pregnancy exercise myth told to you that you know (or now know) isn't true?
I was told a few things – “you shouldn’t lift weights”, “you shouldn’t bend down", “if you exercise every day your baby could measure smaller than normal”. Since I've been in the health industry for a while I was lucky enough to know better than to trust these scare-mongering comments. But it's definitely still annoying and draining to hear them on a regular basis. Although I know deep down that they are myths, when you're told something over and over again you start to question yourself, especially as a first-time mum. You worry if you’re doing the right thing or not. It’s not fair to women who are just trying to be healthy for themselves and their baby to have to deal with that constant commentary.
What was your exercise routine before becoming pregnant?
Before I was pregnant I was very active. I’m a yoga teacher and Nutritionist and I would usually teach about 10 yoga classes a week at various studios, at corporate organizations, and I'd teach several private yoga sessions. On top of this, I would do my own training at the gym about 5 days a week, with a mixture of cardio and weight training. I truly believe that being in good health and fitness before pregnancy has helped me have a healthy pregnancy so far.
What does your exercise routine look like now?
Now I’m in my 3rd trimester and I still go to the gym about 4 days a week where I basically do lighter weights but more reps. I also use the stability ball to support me if I lift weights above my head. I used to do squats and lunges with weights in my hands and now I just use my own bodyweight. I now teach 3 yoga classes a week instead of 10, and I do other forms of exercise like power walking instead of running, and some days I might swim with a float to feel weightless, or do some light yoga and meditation which I’m practicing as part of a hypnobirthing course I’m taking. Ultimately, I try and include exercise for both mind and body.
Right now I’m 35 weeks pregnant and things are slowing down for sure. However, I still make time every day to really connect with my body. The body was not designed for sitting and there is so much research showing that women who are active in their pregnancy go on to have quicker and less complicated births. I have found actually that my increasing my reps and using lighter weights I have more definition in the smaller muscle groups, giving me a more feminine look instead of bigger, bulkier muscle.
What has been the biggest challenge in pursuing physical fitness and exercise during pregnancy?
I guess the first trimester for me was the hardest. I didn't have a lot of vomiting, but I had very strong nausea from about week 6 -12, and I'd get dizzy at times when trying to exercise, so working around that was tough. As I have hit my third trimester I got a varicose vein in the groin (also known as Vulvar Varicosities) so some mornings after I wake up the first few steps are quite tender and I limp a little until I get going and then I’m back to normal. So right now my challenges have been primarily physical.
How did you overcome this challenge to Shape Your Pregnancy?
In terms of nausea, I knew it was important to rest but I also know that light activity is equally important - both mentally and physically. I still trained but sometimes it would be a power walk instead of weight training and even if I could only manage to do 20 minutes a day I tried to do something. Yoga worked really well for me at this time as well, as I could be as soft or as dynamic as I liked. I also put my cardio sessions on hold for a few weeks until I felt more up to it.
As for my angry looking varicose vein, I've focused on staying active to allow blood flow to that area instead of sitting still for long periods of time, which is worse for them. I also bought a pregnancy support band to take pressure off of my groin especially if I’m walking far or training in the gym. It has been one of the best investments for me and it has little pockets in the back which is handy to put phone and keys when training.
What message would you want to share with other expecting and new moms?
Pregnancy is a time when hormones are all over the place, and as we watch our bodies change it can impact our self-esteem. Keeping active and exercising will help balance your hormones and release feel-good vibes. Make time to workout so you can look in the mirror and not just admire and love your bump, but love yourself too. Also - training during pregnancy is the best way to prepare yourself for post-birth recover, healing, and repair. It's so true that what you do now can impact how easy it is to get your body back to its optimum shape after birth!
Love your body and the miracle it's making! Inhale love, exhale gratitude xx