Staying in Shape Through Pregnancy: What’s Your Motivation?

It’s getting to be warm outside. And humid. I’m getting to be rounder. And heavier. And tired-er. And it is getting to be a little harder to find the time/make the time/have the desire to go outside and make myself move to the point of sweating profusely. Because it is that time of year when, if you do that, you will basically never be fully dry again. Ever.

So I’m constantly reminding myself why staying in shape through this pregnancy is important to me. Yes, I have a race to run – but I’ll be done with that next Saturday and I’ll still have seven more weeks, give or take, to be pregnant. That’s kind of a long time in the heat of the summer, and I’d better have some pretty good motivations for keeping in shape if they are going to get me out of my sometimes-air-conditioned apartment and on to the hot streets of Brooklyn.

Here’s what I’ve come up with:

It will make giving birth easier. I firmly believe that the stronger my body is, the easier it will be for me to birth my baby. That is extremely important to me as I have had two unmedicated births and am planning to do it again this time.

It will make the weeks following the birth more comfortable. Taking care of a newborn is no easy task. Getting up multiple times in the night to feed/change/soothe a tiny person is hard under the best of circumstances, but harder if you spent the past several months doing as little as possible because you didn’t want to sweat. At least that is what I am telling myself.

I won’t have to think about losing the baby weight. Mostly because there isn’t that much baby weight to lose. In fact, just about all the weight is baby.

I’ve done it before and I can do it again. I was pregnant with Manchild in Hawaii where it is warm and humid just about all the time. I ran until the day before he was born. It took a little bit of juggling to find the best time of day, when I wouldn’t worry about overheating, but I did it. Same with Squish. I wasn’t as far along in the heat of the summer, but still. I’ve done it before and I can do it again.

It is good for my mental health. And no one wants a crazy, cranky, irritable person for a housemate.

It keeps pregnancy pains away. I’m fairly certain I’ve been able to avoid back pain/swollen feet/etc. by keeping my body as strong as I can. There maybe something to be said for the actual shape of my body as well (long torso), but that doesn’t really motivate me, so let’s ignore it.

It’s good for the baby. I keep remembering how they monitored the boys’ hearts in the hospital when I was laboring with them. It was, of course, uncomfortable for me since I really would have preferred walking around, standing up, squatting – anything besides lying in a bed watching my contractions on a machine – but it was nice to see that the boys hearts’ handled it well. And it makes sense. Exercising while pregnant does strengthen the baby’s heart.

There’s my list. What have I missed? What would motivate you to keep moving when it would be so much easier to . . .  not move.

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  1. I’m really curious about the pregnancy weight gain part. So do you only gain around 15 pounds your entire pregnancy (or less)? What about the dr recommendation of 25 pounds? Does it effect your milk supply after having the baby?
    As far as I remember you have never had a problem with that, I’m just really curious about this aspect of pregnancy and the reality of it compared to what most of us believe.

    P.s. I currently am 20 weeks pregnant and work out daily but have zero desire to run! You have a will of iron! Totally impressive!


    lizzie Reply:

    With Squish I gained about 15 pounds. WIth Manchild it was closer to 20. I’ve gained about 10 pounds so far with this one and I have 9 weeks until I’m full-term, so I’m not likely to gain more than 20, even if I gain a pound a week from here on out. I haven’t had any problems with milk supply or nursing or anything. My midwife has said she doesn’t care if I gain 10 pounds of fat or not as long as the baby is growing well, which she is, so I’m not sweating gaining less than the recommended amount. I’ve always thought those recommendations were a little strange since every body is different and handles pregnancy in a different way.

    And super congrats on being pregnant! And staying active! I understand not having the desire to run . . . for me it is such a part of my life that it is practically habitual. 🙂


  2. I don’t want to sound negative, but I wanted to add a different perspective…Coming from someone who has been sick almost the entire time for my current and previous pregnancies – it’s not just about the desire to work out, I honestly can’t during that time, at least on any sort of regular basis…I am going to say that of your list the #1 most important reason is your own personal mental health. I think working out can definitely enhance the other areas you talked about as well 🙂 Thankfully, even though I haven’t been able to work out regularly, I tend to have very quick and smooth deliveries (what a blessing!) and have a hard time gaining the recommended 25 lbs. Afterwards, the weight seems to just melt away as I breastfeed (lucky me 🙂 And during labor, I just lay there and relax or get in a jacuzzi tub and let my body do the work while my mind relaxes (I do hypnobirthing). Anyway…I guess on behalf of those who either CANNOT work out because they are too sick, or have other health issues to consider (what about the poor ladies on prolonged bedrest? Yikes!) I can give hope that all will turn out well and in the end you can have a great experience in the delivery room and after. Even if you maybe feel like crap or somehow guilty that you can’t run marathons while pregnant 🙂 Just tossing that out there…and by the way, props on your running through the whole pregnancy! I usually like to run (have run ONE marathon) but even in my short runs up and down the stairs of our townhome it is uncomfortable for me to think of the baby bouncing around in my belly. I guess that’s why I stick to my very occasional yoga or lap swim 🙂

    All that aside – good luck with your last few weeks! Keep cool! Keep hydrated! Keep running! 🙂


    lizzie Reply:

    Oh I always appreciate a different perspective. The reason I write these posts (aside to keep myself motivated) is for those women who may not know that it is okay to stay active and be fit during pregnancy, or who may be on the fence about trying, or who could be active but have always thought of pregnancy as a time to take it really easy, eat whatever they want, and not do too much “heavy lifting.” I realize there are those who want to stay active, but can’t for one reason or another. I hope that those women do not feel that I am condemning or judging them in any way. It is certainly possible to have an unmedicated birth, a quick birth, a healthy baby without taking any pains to stay in shape, but I do think there is benefit to trying to keep yourself as healthy as you can, which is what I am trying to promote.

    As far as the baby bouncing around in the belly when I’m running . . . I don’t think that is anything to be concerned about. From everything I’ve observed and felt, if she is bouncing, I can’t feel it, and I can feel her move a lot. As far as I can tell she (and my boys) have been soothed by the motion and slept through the whole thing.

    I hope you have a comfortable last few days/weeks as well! Can’t wait to see how things go with the third!

    (I also think the “recommended weight gain” is kind of weird. Every body is different and has different needs. No reason to shoot for a goal that is way too high.)


  3. This is a great topic. I’m a tiny bit jealous of you and Tysha who gain so little while pregnant. I’m about 27 weeks along and have already packed on 18-20 pounds and will likely gain at least 10-15 more before it’s all over. I really feel that makes a difference on working out too. I also work out every day, but the sheer amount of weight starts to get taxing after a while. It’s crazy because it’s also all baby for me. I don’t think the rest of my body has changed at all this pregnancy, which is incredible with that much weight already. Women’s bodies really are totally different. I couldn’t believe how fast the weight melted off after Spencer when I had gained close to 40 pounds. It’s truly amazing.

    Anyway, I’m with you on all the reasons it’s good to exercise. I mentally feel a lot better this pregnancy than last because I know it will be easier to start working out again post baby because I’ve worked out for so long while pregnant. I’m also going for an unmedicated birth this time around, so I’m hoping all this yoga and strength work and the occasional run will help me with that too. I had an epidural last baby, so that’s still a wild card part for me. So keep up the good work and we’ll keep motivating each other to get up and out each day!


    lizzie Reply:

    Thanks for the response, Jolena. It really is amazing how bodies react differently to pregnancy. I don’t gain much weight at all for the first half of the pregnancy, but I know women who have gained 5 pounds before they even take the pregnancy test.

    I hope you are able to have the unmedicated birth you want! And even if it doesn’t work out, you’ll be strong and ready to take on the challenge of having two little munchkins to care for.


  4. Oh I’m enjoying reading everyone’s comments (as well as your post! :))….I want to reply to each and every comment, b/c this is such a huge issue for so many women. I agree w/ all of your reasoning. It is great to stay fit during pregnancy, though I never kept running to the end–I did stay active in some way or another (teaching fitness, fast walking, etc.) In all four pregnancies I gained the most early on, but it slowed down later. You are so right–every body is different! I encourage everyone who feels bad b/c they gain more to not get stressed–mine came off every time, and I think I feel better physically now than before all four babies! 🙂 (That feels good to say!)
    Anyways, fun topic!


    lizzie Reply:

    Thanks for your insights. And I feel similarly about afterwards – I have started each of my pregnancies in better shape than the one before.


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