I’m not an anxious person. I may tend to overthink some decisions and conflict gives me hives but overall, I’m pretty chill. That may be why I was caught off guard when I developed anxiety with my current pregnancy, even though it’s quite common, especially after experiencing pregnancy loss.
The anxiety has become significantly more manageable in my second trimester (as of this date I am currently 24 weeks) especially after several beautifully uneventful ultrasounds and NIPT bloodwork confirming that our baby girl (!) is healthy. Still, part of my head and heart can’t help but remember the pain I experienced with our losses and fears it might happen again. It’s reassuring to know that my feelings are natural and I am fortunate to have found ways to manage them by seeking out support when needed and taking good care of myself.
What has been particularly helpful to me on both an emotional and physical level is staying active. When exercising, my mind is concentrated on my physical body and it stays focused there rather than creeping into the dark places my anxiety wants to go. The endorphins seem to be doing their job and I always feel more positive during and after a workout. I know I am doing something that is good for both me and the baby and I love that feeling.
In this post I’ll share some examples of what is working for me for prenatal appropriate fitness and link my favorite channels, instructors and classes, but first I want to clarify that I have discussed my fitness program with my doctor, and she has cleared me for all the exercise I am participating in. It’s very important to discuss any new exercise programs with a doctor especially if you are expecting.
I started taking barre classes both in a studio and at home regularly a few years ago after the birth of my son. Until recently, at home I used the back of a stool as my ‘barre’ but it swiveled and while then I considered that bonus core work, I figured now would be a good time to invest in something more stable. I received the Booty Kicker barre as a Christmas gift, and I love it. It’s sturdy, portable, has a place to store my free weights and it’s adorable. Jessica Diaz, a local barre instructor here in Boston, recommended it to me and I encourage anyone who is doing barre at home to check out her link for $20 off the Booty Kicker and a free bender ball (great for thigh and glute work). Additionally, Jess’s website offers some great barre workouts including prenatal specific classes and she just added a labor prep stretch video that felt awesome on my back.
I’m also finding great barre classes on the NEOU app. Along with hundreds of other workouts (not prenatal unfortunately), NEOU has over 60 classes from Forme Barre Fitness. I reached out to Lauren and Christina from Forme Barre on social media to ask about modifications to continue the workouts during pregnancy and they both gave me great advice for modifications and what exercises to skip all together (see ya in the fall planks!)
HIIT, Strength Training and the YouTube Rabbit Hole
It was really fun to pour over YouTube in search of prenatal specific workouts and I was excited to see not only the quantity of what was available but also the impressive variety. Cardio, kickboxing, dumbbells, HIIT, and Pilates were just some of the options and a range of durations so if I wanted to get in an hour workout or just had 20 minutes there was a video for me. One of my favorites has been Babyfit by Amy with Amy Kiser Schemper. Amy’s channel provides over 40 videos for all stages of pregnancy. I am working my way through all her classes, but I especially like the Tabata workout. The pace is appropriate, but it goes by so fast!
Finally, I have to share my love for prenatal yoga. I have had an on/off relationship with yoga for many many years but when I’m pregnant it’s my favorite way to take care of my body. There is so much prenatal yoga content available online I could probably take a different class every day. I appreciate how the prenatal specific classes focus on a pregnant body’s needs like strengthening the back, conservative balance postures and avoiding twists and supine poses. Many of the classes also teach breathing exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor and give great tips for relaxation poses that you can do anytime. At this stage of my pregnancy, I have begun to feel my baby moving around and its very reassuring to sense her activity. If I’m having a tough day or feel the anxiety drifting back in, I grab my yoga block and do a series of breaths in a supported bridge pose. The positioning gives her a little more room to stretch out and I can feel her tiny body adjusting inside me as soon as I settle into the pose.
As for my favorites, I have really been enjoying Root Yoga Therapy with Jasmine and Andrea Bogart Yoga. Jasmine offers a yoga class for each week of pregnancy so you can look forward to a different practice for each week you progress and it feels beautifully customized. Andrea’s prenatal practices can be found on the Alo Yoga channel on YouTube and the How to Practice Yoga app where you can find a lovely practice on their IGTV and she is about to release a five class prenatal series this month. I have developed a huge friend crush on Andrea – and only partly because she used to be on General Hospital (RIP Abby Haver).
Committing to moving everyday and finding time to focus my body has been incredibly helpful physically, mentally, and emotionally for this pregnancy. My hope is to continue until I give birth making any necessary adjustments to my body’s and baby’s changing needs.
Please comment or message me with your suggestions and recommendations for more prenatal appropriate workouts. Variety is essential to not lose momentum and I’ll be sure to continue sharing my favorites on my social media channels. I can’t wait to hear your ideas!