Fit Pregnancy For Dummies


by Catherine Cram and Tere Stouffer Drenth





About the Authors

Catherine Cram is an exercise physiologist who specializes in prenatal and postpartum fitness. Her consulting company, Comprehensive Fitness Consulting, LLC, provides maternal fitness certificate training courses for health and fitness professionals. She’s an expert advisor to and writes for Baby Years, Pregnancy, Women’s Health and Fitness, and Catherine has been featured in prenatal fitness articles for Fit Pregnancy, Parenting, Glamour, Babytalk, and The American Journal of Medicine and Sports, and is a contributing author of Women’s Health Care in Physical Therapy: Principles and Practices for Rehabilitation Specialists (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins). You can contact her at .

Tere Stouffer Drenth is both a full-time writer and a semiprofessional runner who works, trains, hikes, and lives in northern Michigan. A former cross-country All-American, Tere (which rhymes with Mary) writes about fitness and the outdoors in the hope that people of all ages and backgrounds will challenge themselves physically and reap the many rewards of exercise. She is the author of Marathon Training For Dummies (Wiley) and several other books. You can reach her at .



From Cathy: To the many women who have generously shared their unique and enlightening insights on pregnancy and motherhood with me through the years. Also to Beverly and Ramon Cram for their consistent support and encouragement. And in loving remembrance of Bertina Mikkelson.

From Tere: To all women who bravely undertake motherhood and dare to become and stay fit during those physically demanding 40 weeks of pregnancy.


Authors’ Acknowledgments

Writing a book requires an entire team of professionals, and we’re fortunate to have worked with the best. Natasha Graf, acquisitions editor at Wiley, first championed the idea of publishing this book and shared her vision with Joyce Pepple, acquisitions director, and Diane Steele, publisher, who gave their stamp of approval. Chrissy Guthrie, project editor, then took over the reins and skillfully drove this project to completion, despite some bumps in the road. Copy editor Kristin DeMint made the text flow smoothly and sound so much better. And Barbara Moore, production coordinator, managed the layout and proofreading of this project.

Special thanks to Ellen Houston, Natalie Hagen, Ann Wilson, Karen Dettinger, Joan Bonazza, Tina Lemon, Lorie Cahn, and Lana Turner for their assistance and for providing a humorous and honest view into the real world of motherhood.

We also want to send many thanks to our models — Barbara and Rachel Boulden, Lisa and Annika Sanborn, Jennifer Folmer, and Sheila Erbach McGinn — and our photographer, John Urban. Thanks to the University of Wisconsin Health Sports Medicine Center in Madison, Wisconsin, for the use of its facility and assistance of its staff during our photo shoot.


Publisher’s Acknowledgments

We’re proud of this book; please send us your comments through our Dummies online registration form located at .

Some of the people who helped bring this book to market include the following:

Acquisitions, Editorial, and Media Development

Project Editor: Christina Guthrie

Acquisitions Editor: Natasha Graf

Copy Editor: Kristin DeMint

Technical Editor: John F. Wagner, MD, FACOG

Editorial Manager: Christine Meloy Beck

Editorial Assistants: Courtney Allen, Elizabeth Rea, Melissa Bennett

Cover Photo: © Corbis

Cartoons: Rich Tennant,


Project Coordinator: Barbara Moore

Layout and Graphics: Amanda Carter, Brian Drumm, Denny Hager, Shelley Norris, Barry Offringa, Heather Ryan, Brent Savage, Julie Trippetti

Special Art: Interior photos by John Urban; illustrations by Lisa S. Reed

Proofreaders: TECHBOOKS Production Services

Indexer: TECHBOOKS Production Services

Publishing and Editorial for Consumer Dummies

Diane Graves Steele, Vice President and Publisher, Consumer Dummies

Joyce Pepple, Acquisitions Director, Consumer Dummies

Kristin A. Cocks, Product Development Director, Consumer Dummies

Michael Spring, Vice President and Publisher, Travel

Brice Gosnell, Associate Publisher, Travel

Kelly Regan, Editorial Director, Travel

Publishing for Technology Dummies

Andy Cummings, Vice President and Publisher, Dummies Technology/General User

Composition Services

Gerry Fahey, Vice President of Production Services

Debbie Stailey, Director of Composition Services




About This Book

Conventions Used in This Book

Foolish Assumptions

How This Book Is Organized

Icons Used in This Book

Where to Go from Here

Part I : Fit Pregnancy: Isn’t That an Oxymoron?

Chapter 1: Making Your Pregnancy a Fit Pregnancy

What Does “Fit Pregnancy” Mean?

Weighing In on the Benefits

Finding the Right Activities for You

Turning Your Fit Pregnancy into Fit Motherhood

Chapter 2: Recognizing the Benefits of a Fit Pregnancy

Coping with the Changes Your Body Is Experiencing

Preparing Your Body for Labor and Delivery

Passing the Benefits to Your Baby

Bouncing Back after Your Baby Is Born

Chapter 3: Designing a Safe Prenatal Fitness Program

Consulting Your Healthcare Provider

Developing an Exercise Plan

Monitoring Your Body

Modifying, Modifying, Modifying Your Routine

Knowing How Much May Be Too Much

Understanding Conditions That Make Exercise Off-Limits

Chapter 4: Knowing Which Activities Are Best (And Which to Avoid)

Discovering the Best Ways to Stay Fit While Pregnant

Considering Additional Activities, Depending on Your Background

Steering Clear of Certain Activities

Finding Activities Even When You’re on Bed Rest

Part II : Getting Up and Moving: Fit Pregnancy Basics

Chapter 5: Never Exercised Before? No Problem!

Finding Fun Ways to Work Out

Establishing Reasonable Expectations for Yourself

The Basics: Warming Up, Cooling Down, Stretching, and Hydrating

Debunking “No Pain, No Gain”

Setting Up Your First Fitness Routine

Staying Motivated

Chapter 6: Exercise for Fitness Buffs and Competitive Athletes

Understanding Physical Changes during Pregnancy

Modifying Your Workouts to Accommodate Your Pregnancy

Finding Alternate Activities

Easing Back into Your Routine after Delivery

Chapter 7: Dressing for Success: Finding Workout Gear

Sole Searching: Finding Shoes That Fit

Getting Underneath it All: Undergarments

Timing Yourself with a Sports Watch

Playing It Cool: Finding Summer and Indoor Gear

Playing Outside: Rain and Winter Gear

Water, Water Everywhere: Swimming and Water Aerobics Gear

Coming to Love Cycling Gear — Even Skin-Tight Shorts

Chapter 8: Stretching the Truth: An Honest Look at Stretching

Recognizing What Stretching Can Do for You

Getting Loose: Basic Stretches

Part III : Eating Well for Nine Months — and for Life

Chapter 9: Fueling Your Body with the Right Foods

Developing Good Eating Habits

Sorting through the Hype about Carbs and Fats

Getting Your Vitamins and Minerals

Drinking Enough Fluids

Recognizing Which Foods to Limit or Avoid Completely

Chapter 10: Healthy Weight Gain during Pregnancy

Adding Up the Numbers: Normal Weight Gain

Keeping Food Down during the First Trimester

Eating Enough without Overeating

Pickles and Ice Cream: Feeding Your Cravings

Part IV : Fun and Healthy Activities for Pregnancy and Beyond

Chapter 11: Balls, Bands, Bars, and Mats: Simple, Inexpensive Workouts

Introducing the Cheapest Exercise Equipment You Can Buy

Doing Core Strengthening Exercises

Working with a Workout Ball

The Irresistible Lure of Resistance Bands

No Holds Barred: Bars and Hand Weights

Chapter 12: Fitness Walking and Running

Fitness Walking 101

Running for Your Life

Deciding Whether to Buy a Treadmill

Chapter 13: Swimming and Water Aerobics

Finding Classes and Pool Time

Swimming with the Current

Aerobicizing Underwater: The Ultimate Low-Impact Aerobics

Chapter 14: Yoga, Pilates, and Low-Impact Aerobics

Yoga: Soothing Your Mind and Body

Pilates: Strengthening with Concentration and Control

Low-Impact Aerobics: Big Results with Little Joint Stress

Deciding Between a Class and a Video

Chapter 15: A Bicycle Built for Two

Investing in Cycling Equipment

Taking a Few Outdoor Safety Precautions

Basic Cycling Techniques: No Training Wheels Required

Wheeling through a Cycling Workout Plan

Chapter 16: Weightlifting and Indoor Machines

Indoor Machines: The Pros and Cons

Weightlifting: We Want to Pump You Up!

Stair-Stepping to Heaven

Elliptical Trainers: Combining Cycling, Skiing, and a Whole Bunch of Other Stuff

Skiing, Cross-Country Style

Row, Row, Row Your Boat

Chapter 17: Mixing It Up: Combining Different Exercise Routines

Finding Great Reasons to Begin Cross-Training

Incorporating Cross-Training into Your Routine

Part V : The Tenth Month and Later: Staying Fit for Life

Chapter 18: Recovering from the Labor Marathon and Getting Up and at ’Em

Resting Up First

Caring for Your Baby without Stressing Your Body

Deciding When to Exercise and What Activities to Do

Returning to Your Pre-Pregnancy Weight and Strengthening Your Abs

Chapter 19: Finding Time for Fitness and Motherhood

Deciding Where and How to Work Out

Getting Your Partner Involved

Making Fitness Last a Lifetime

Chapter 20: Starting Your Kids Off on the Right Fitness Foot

Understanding the Impact of Low Activity and Excess Calories on Kids

Helping Children Nurture Their Natural Love of Activity

Making Healthy Eating Your Family’s Hallmark

Part VI : The Part of Tens

Chapter 21: Ten Ideas for Staying Fit without Leaving the House

Pop in an Exercise Video

Set up a Low-Impact Circuit Routine

Take Up Yoga

Purchase a Treadmill, Stationary Bike, Stair-Stepper, and So On

Accept Offers of Exercise Equipment from Anyone

Keep Hand Weights or Resistance Bands by the TV

Dance Around

Garden with a Purpose

Clean the House Vigorously

Exercise in Unusual Ways in Usual Places

Chapter 22: Ten or So Ways to Get Family and Friends Involved in Your Quest for Fitness

Gathering Support While You Work Out

Getting Your Family or Friends to Exercise with You

Chapter 23: Ten (Plus One) Resources for Pregnancy Workout Gear

Your Local Discount or Sporting Goods Store

Athletic Specialty Shops

Maternity Clothing Shops

Your Partner’s Closet


A re you intrigued by the idea of working out during pregnancy, but think it can’t be safe? Are you unsure how the words fit and pregnancy actually make sense in the same sentence? If so, you've come to the right place. Fit Pregnancy For Dummies is your guidebook to a fit and healthy pregnancy, showing you how you can be fit and pregnant, whether you're new to exercise or have been working out for years, and whether you're in your 2nd week of pregnancy or your 32nd.

About This Book

Whether you’ve never exercised before or are a competitive athlete, this book helps you find the right type of exercise during your pregnancy and explains how to set up a workout routine that works for you. You find out which activities tend to work best for pregnant women and have a chance to read about activities you may not have tried before. You also get tips on eating enough to gain weight regularly, but not so much that you’re faced with a completely different body after you deliver. And you find out how to take care of your body after you deliver your baby, how to keep your workout routine going, and how to help your child grow up healthy and fit.

If you’re a first-time exerciser, you find chapters and sections just for you — ones that help you understand common fitness terminology and basic concepts about setting up an exercise program. You get the lowdown on getting started and staying motivated, and you’ll never feel as though this fitness stuff is over your head.

If you’re an old pro, you don’t have to wade through the basics; go ahead and skip chapters and sections that don’t apply to you. You do, however, find plenty of information about how to modify your existing workout routine so that you make sure your pregnancy progresses properly but that you still maintain much of your old fitness level.

Conventions Used in This Book

Like all For Dummies books, this book doesn’t use a lot of strange conventions that cause you to scratch your head in wonder. Instead, we keep the conventions and definitions simple, as follows:

bullet When we introduce pregnancy terminology or fitness jargon, we italicize the term.

bullet On those rare occasions when we suggest typing a term into an Internet search engine, like Google, we type that term in boldface.

bullet For those times that we direct you to a Web site for information or workout gear, the Web address is set in a special typeface, such as

bullet When talking about fitness, we use the term activity to mean the sport or other type of exercise in which you’re choosing to participate.

bullet The total time that you exercise in a day is called a workout, and a workout usually includes a warm-up, an activity (or more than one activity, if you’re cross-training — see Chapter 17), and a cool-down.

Note that workout is a noun — a thing. When we’re talking about the verb form of that work — for example, when we say, “In order to work out, you have to first warm up” — the term is actually two words. Yeah, we admit that’s a little confusing, but our grammar- and spelling- conscious editors wouldn’t have it any other way.

bullet Often, we refer to your overall workout plan as an exercise routine or workout routine, and it includes all that you do over the course of weeks, months, and years to keep yourself fit.

bullet We frequently recommend that you talk to a healthcare provider or healthcare practitioner, and by that, we mean a doctor — an obstetrician and gynecologist (OB/GYN), medical doctor (MD), or osteopath (DO) — a certified nurse-midwife (CNM), a nurse practitioner (NP), a physician’s assistant (PA), or any other qualified medical professional who’s assisting you with your pregnancy.

Foolish Assumptions

What foolish assumptions do we make about you, dear reader? Just two:

bullet You’re pregnant (or are thinking of becoming pregnant).

bullet You want to be as fit and healthy as you can be — whatever your current fitness level — without in any way jeopardizing your health or the health of your baby.

If this sounds like you, you’ve picked up the right book. But if you’re not pregnant, pick up Fitness For Dummies, by Suzanne Schlosberg and Liz Neporent (Wiley), which is your guide to general fitness. And if you’re looking for all- purpose advice on your pregnancy — not pregnancy workout advice — check out Pregnancy For Dummies, 2nd Edition, by Joanne Stone, MD, Keith Eddleman, MD, and Mary Duenwald (also published by Wiley).

How This Book Is Organized

This book is organized into six parts, each with chapters that relate to specific areas of pregnancy fitness.

Part I: Fit Pregnancy: Isn’t That an Oxymoron?

Striving for a fit pregnancy may sound like an oxymoron, but the fact that many women don’t try to become fit or even continue their current fitness levels during pregnancy isn’t physical, but cultural. Up until the past decade, most healthcare providers discouraged pregnant women from doing any exercise during their pregnancies for fear that exercise would cause problems like premature labor and very low-birthweight babies. Recent research shows that moderate exercise has a wonderful positive impact on pregnancy and doesn’t cause any additional health problems for you or your baby. Even so, many women are unsure whether exercising during pregnancy is a good idea, and few women know how to go about pursuing a fit pregnancy.

This part comes to the rescue, answering your most pressing fitness questions, helping you recognize the many benefits that a fit pregnancy brings to you and your baby, putting together a workout routine that fits your goals and lifestyle, and discovering the best activities to do while pregnant.

Part II: Getting Up and Moving: Fit Pregnancy Basics

Before you start working out, you need to think about a few basics. If you’re an exercise novice, the first chapter in this part helps you with the very basic basics, like what to wear while exercising and how to get started with a workout program. In fact, this part also includes an entire chapter on finding clothing and other workout gear for whatever activity you choose to pursue. And you also find out how to warm up and stretch so that you increase flexibility and keep yourself injury free.

If you’ve already spent time exercising, this part offers a special chapter that helps you decide whether to continue your current activity, discusses activities that you may be able to substitute and still maintain a high level of fitness, and gives advice on how to modify your current training program to maintain your and your baby’s health.

Part III: Eating Well for Nine Months — and for Life

Pregnancy is certainly a time for weight gain, but you want the gain to be only the amount your healthcare provider recommends — no more, no less — and you want to eat the foods that best nourish your body. In this part, you find out which foods are most nutritious, get a report on the latest carbohydrate versus fat controversy, find out which vitamins you need and how to get them from foods, and hydrate yourself with water and other beverages. You also get tips and tricks for keeping food down (if you’re struggling with nausea) and find out how to not give in to certain cravings.

Part IV: Fun and Healthy Activities for Pregnancy and Beyond

This part introduces you to a variety of activities that tend to be comfortable and safe for pregnant women. You’re introduced to the tools of the trade (the gear and equipment needed for each activity), get a few tips on the best technique to use, and discover ways to come up with a workout plan that works for you. This part also includes a chapter on cross-training to help you figure out how to incorporate two or more activities into a workout routine.

Part V: The Tenth Month and Later: Staying Fit for Life

Although the focus of this book is on your fitness routine while you’re pregnant, we would be remiss if we didn’t give you some tips for continuing your workout routine after you deliver your baby. In this part, you find chapters on how (and whether) to exercise in the days following your baby’s birth, how to continue exercising in spite of the demands of motherhood, and how to help your child grow up fit and healthy. This material could be a book all in itself, so you’re just getting a taste here, but we give you enough information to keep you working out throughout the rest of your life.

Part VI: The Part of Tens

Like all For Dummies books, this one has a Part of Tens — the last part in this book — that gives you quick, fun lists of ten: ten effective ways to exercise indoors, ten ideas for getting your family hooked on fitness, and ten great resources for pregnancy workout gear.

Icons Used in This Book

You know those roadside signs that you see during highway construction projects that inform you of lane closures, slowdowns, and other critical information? Because your fit pregnancy is a work in progress much like a construction site, this book offers icons that are structured like informational road signs, only they appear in the margins of the book instead of in six-foot-tall neon signs. Here’s what they mean:


This icon gives you tips, tricks, and techniques that, with time, you’d surely figure out on your own. But instead of spending years and years finding out the hard way, you get the benefit of our nearly 50 years of combined experiences as athletes and fitness advisors by reading these tips.


This icon highlights information that you want to tattoo on your brain. Keep these reminders in the forefront as you work out during your pregnancy.


Although this icon is called “Call the Doctor,” it really means that you should call whichever healthcare professional is guiding you through your pregnancy. “Call the Healthcare Professional” just doesn’t have the same ring to it, so we chose the word “doctor,” although we have no intention of suggesting that a doctor is a more appropriate pregnancy medical professional than the other options, such as a certified nurse-midwife, a nurse practitioner, or a physician’s assistant. This icon alerts you to signs, signals, and symptoms that may mean that you need to cut back on your workout program. Only your healthcare provider can help you decide whether your pregnancy is proceeding as it should, so contact him or her as soon as possible if you experience any of the warning signs flagged by these icons.


Are you tightening your budget as you get ready for your new little roommate? Or are you already saving for your baby’s college education? If so, this icon points out ways to save a bit of money on the many “essential” pieces of clothing, other gear, and equipment that the fitness industry tries to convince you to buy.

Where to Go from Here

Most authors expect you to read their books from cover to cover, and although you’re free to do that with this book and will gain a great deal of information by doing so, don’t feel as though you have to read the entire book or read it in any sort of order. You’re invited to skip around, using the Index and Table of Contents to find what you need, or rely on pure chance by flipping this book up in the air and reading whatever page is open when it lands.

If you’re brand new to exercise, think about reading Chapter 5 first — it’s meant just for you and includes a lot of pointers about how to get started. If you’re not yet ready to commit to exercising during pregnancy, read Chapter 2 for a look at the many benefits. Chapter 3 tells you how to devise an exercise plan that fits your goals, lifestyle, and current fitness level. And if you’re not sure which activities are best to take up while pregnant, visit Chapter 4 for a listing, and read how to get started in and/or continue doing these activities in Chapters 11 through 16. Also, visit Chapters 18 and 19 for postnatal fitness advice.

Part I

Fit Pregnancy: Isn’t That an Oxymoron?

In this part . . .

You find out that having a fit pregnancy is not only possible — but it’s also the preferred approach to pregnancy. And it’s so much healthier for you and your baby than sitting in front of the TV for nine months!

This part answers your most important fitness questions and helps you better understand the multitude of benefits that a fit pregnancy brings your way. You discover how to design a workout program throughout each trimester and find out which signs and symptoms to watch for as you exercise. You also get a quick glance at which activities tend to work best for pregnant women.