Assessing Your Needs and Abilities
Looking at these three categories of fitness, you might think you fit neatly into one of them. However, you should only use the fitness level category as a starting point.
Some women prefer to have a professional evaluation of their fitness level. This can be done in most major fitness centers, including some hospital gyms. If you are having trouble finding someone to perform this assessment, you might try a professional association that trains fitness instructors or personal trainers. Fitness evaluation is a basic skill of personal trainers and fitness instructors.
A few practitioners might require a professional evaluation before giving you the go-ahead to exercise. If your doctor or midwife requests one from you, ask if he or she has a recommendation for where to have your fitness levels tested. In most cases, you will be able to use self-evaluation to figure out where to begin your exercise routine.
If you choose to have a professional evaluation, be sure to ask your evaluator about his or her certification in this area. Choosing a certified fitness instructor or personal trainer might make a huge difference in your evaluation.
Begin your self-evaluation by asking yourself the following questions about your body, your pregnancy, and exercise:
What injuries have you experienced in the past (including broken bones, accidents, falls, previous surgeries, or other problems)?
Do you have old injuries that still require nurturing? If so, can you find ways to alter different exercises to accommodate this injury?
What medical conditions, if any, did you have before your pregnancy (e.g., chronic conditions including high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, etc.)? Are they under control now? Do you have any specific concerns about these conditions?
Are you suffering from current pregnancy discomforts (e.g., swelling, nausea, backache, etc.)?
Have you developed potential complications during pregnancy, like gestational diabetes, anemia, or pregnancy induced hypertension (PIH)? If so, how can you still fit in exercise? Will there be restrictions on which exercises you are able to complete?
Have you had trouble sticking to an exercise program before? The best advice is to find an exercise buddy to help you stay motivated to exercise. This person doesn't have to be pregnant, but he or she has to be someone on whom you can call for support. It does help if he or she can exercise with you, though this is not a must. The important part of this relationship will be accountability.
Regular Consultation with Your Practitioner
You will be meeting with your practitioner often throughout pregnancy. Initially, your visits will be monthly, and then later they will become weekly, so there will be an opportunity for constant re-evaluation during pregnancy. Your practitioner can help guide you as you grow in your pregnant body and continue to exercise.
Your practitioner will be able to answer questions about the need for changes in your exercise plans and about how to help you accommodate your growing body. Never hesitate to talk to him or her about your questions and concerns.