Exercise and Pregnancy

I insisted on getting my exercise while pregnant, even if it was simply a 10 minute walk.

Pregnancy is awesome, but can be miserable if Mom is out of shape. Studies validate that Baby, too, suffers from a Mom who doesn’t take care of herself. It’s good that expectant moms ask themselves, “How can I be in better shape while I am pregnant?”

I started slow with my last one (I delivered #16 just 19 days ago). The first trimester I had morning sickness. I felt yucky and could not pull off trips to the gym or going outside to hike or walk. It was tough to make healthy food choices when everything made me nauseous.

Before too long, I started feeling out of shape and more tired than I knew I should. My exhaustion wasn’t necessarily because I was pregnant, though no one would have blamed me if I settled for that excuse. I secretly knew better: it was because I was out of shape and eating poorly. I suspect most mothers throw in the towel at this time.

Around the 16th week I started walking 1/2 mile and stretch exercises prescribed by my chiropractor. By 22 weeks, I had a routine down and was going to the gym everyday. The consistent exercises helped alleviate my minor pregnancy problems like leg aches, back ache, head ache, insomnia, lack of appetite, energy level, constipation, heart burn and so on.

Here’s the key piece of advice: exercise. Don’t settle with “poor me, I’m pregnant and can’t do anything but get out of shape.” You don’t need to knock yourself out, just go for a simple walk. On days that I could not make it to the gym I would still do my stretches at home. If the weather was cooperative (I was pregnant through the winter) I would maybe go for a walk. Even 10 minutes of walking was helpful.

I cover this idea in my book. Specifically on Page 104:

Pregnancy is no time to stop exercising and become gluttonous. Medically, it is old school to think pregnancy is a reason to do so. The most recent studies have blown many of the old wives’ tales out of the water. Women used to think exercise would drain the body of nutrients or that the baby would suffer from proper dieting. These myths have actually been proven to contribute to complications during pregnancy. (Love in a Diet, p. 104)

Really, any excuse can be given, not just pregnancy. I suppose that’s just my most common excuse. Busy moms can claim menopause, their monthly cycle, homeschool crazy busyness, whatever. It’s best to just wipe those excuses off your mind and get on with steady exercise.

I’ll cover eating during pregnancy next time. I’d love to hear your ideas for exercising. Use the comment section below.

About Wendy Jeub

Yes, Wendy Jeub has brought 16 children into the world, and loves each and every one of them. So much so, she'd welcome more!

  • Jennifer Speulstra

    Thank you for this!  I am 32 weeks pregnant and will be following along with the Love in a Diet group.  I have read it once, and will be reading it again as this pregnancy winds down :)  I have not felt as well this pregnancy, and I think its because I have not exercised like with my last ones.  I have actually become more active during this last trimester than I was in the beginning . I look forward to following along! 

    • Wendy Jeub

       Good for you Jennifer!

  • Jennifer Speulstra

    And as far as what exercise – walking or hiking.  We live in a suburban area, so we are able to walk to much of our activities.  It saves on gas too 😉 

  • Lynn

    Keeping in shape can help you feel great during pregnancy. I think it makes labor so much easier too. Just be sure to clear exercise with your doctor! Unfortunately, my babies tend to come too early and my doctor has suggested I stay off my feet as much as possible this time around.  Gaining a few extra pounds now instead of NICU time later is worth it though.

    • Wendy Jeub

      Thank you for your input. If you have have my book then you know that I advocate healthy choices, and this includes overextending yourself. Even on bed rest you can still make healthy eating choices.

  • Heather

     I love this.  I actually find that I feel MORE healthy during pregnancy!  This is baby #4 for me, I am at 22 weeks and so far have gained 5 pounds.  I can’t do a lot of walking, as this pregnancy just like my last one I am slowly leaking amniotic fluid.  The more active I am, the more I leak -eek!  Last baby turned out just fine although I had to be induced early, but I had to stay off my feet as much as possible.  I go to the doctor this week and I am going to ask her if I can do some upper body exercises while sitting in a chair, my arms feel flabby, LOL!

    • Wendy Jeub

       Wow Heather! That is a whole different ball game. I am praying for you. I do hope all is well. Yes do all you can to keep baby in there and safe for as long as possible. ((Hugs))

    • Karen

      Wow I didn’t know that Heather.  Will be praying for you!  (it’s me your friend, Karen!)

  • Wendy Jeub

    A nice note … “Hi Wendy

    I just finished your diet and
    fitness book! I loved reading it – it has given me inspiration to
    loose my 8 lbs. I’ve gained since Christmas and and 2 lbs. I brought
    home from vacation. I’m a life-time Weight Watcher and I’m only 8lbs.
    away from my goal. After reading your book, I’ve decided I don’t need
    to spend $40.00 a month to loose 8 lbs. I’m trusting God that I can do
    it myself. Your words were words of wisdom (coming from a short person
    to a short person) I gave my book to my daughter and the extra book I
    bought to a friend. She’s expecting her 5th child and really loves
    children!! I’ve also been looking through your cookbooks and have
    enjoyed reading “all the wisdom nuggets” as well as good recipes. I
    love to garden and raise tomatoes – I can’t wait to try your fresh
    tomato soup recipe!! (from the tomatoes you raised in Minnesota) It
    was good meeting you. – I really hope to see you sometime again. In
    the mean time, I’ll keep up with your website……May God continue to
    bless your family……..Barbara H.”

    Thank you Barbara!  You can do it!

  • Lulu Allevato

    I think a treadmill is a great piece of equipment.  I got mine for $100 at a yard sale.  A treadmill takes away all of the “weather” excuses, takes less time than a gym because there’s no traveling, and you can use it in your pajamas!  You can also start very slowly on those morning sickness days and work your way up on the days you feel better.

    • Wendy Jeub

       Lulu – You are absolutely right!! You go!

  • Briannacorinne

    My midwife and I are trying together to figure out what is healthiest for me during pregnancy. I test borderline for gestational diabetes. 

    My first child was 1 week early and 8 lb 10 oz. I gained 26 lb. My midwife was really surprised that he was so big, and said I hid him well. My second child was 10 lb 4 oz who got stuck at the shoulders (thankfully, my midwife resolved it beautifully.) I was eating way too many carbohydrates that pregnancy (though many were fruits and whole grains), trying to keep milk for my first baby who was just 4 months old when I got pregnant and wasn’t thriving on formula. I gained 35 lb with that pregnancy.With my 3rd pregnancy, I was on the diet for gestational diabetes. (Very low carbs spread out throughout the day) Following the diet, I couldn’t gain any weight because I have a high metabolism. I had to up fats and proteins, but I still felt hungry and miserable all the time! I wasn’t exercising enough, but was eating well. My little girl was 8 lb 12 oz. I gained 27 lb. I just had number 4 last month. During that pregnancy, I only gained13 lb. I ate well, though I told myself that I should not feel hungry and like I’m starving my baby all the time, so I had more nuts and milk and beans, which are part carbohydrate. I exercised 30 min-1 hour every day on my exercise bike. I was making healthy food choices, and yet my baby was still 10 lb! I didn’t eat nearly as poorly as I had with #2, though I did eat more than I had with #3, partly because I was exercising. Anyway, I’m  not sure where to go from here! I am scared of having too big of a baby at home, and my midwife says that I hide big babies better than anyone else she knows! I am not overweight, 5’7″ and 140 lb not pregnant. Is my dieting doing any good? Should I not exercise as much so I can avoid more calories without being hungry? Do you know anything about this stuff?~Brianna

    • Wendy Jeub

       Brianna, (Hugs) It sure sounds like you are trying hard. I don’t know the answer to your dietary problem but I would suggest speaking with a dietician who understands pregnancy and diabetics.

      I do pray your find the right answers for you and your baby.  

  • Liz

    Yoga! Yoga is absolutely awesome, both pre-natal and post-natal. My husband and I also love to run. We typically run 2-3 times a week, on the hike-and-bike trail here in Austin. It’s great exercise to push the jogging strollers too! Now that I’m pregnant again, we’ve slowed it down to a brisk walk, but we still go 2-3 times a week!

  • Jan

    by my 3rd pg i had this down pat. A 30-45 min walk in the morning, a 60-90 minute walk in the afternoon. Eating was a challenge because i just wasn’t all that hungry. But anything i did eat was as nutritive as possible & drank plenty of water. I had the easiest labor and delivery! It was amazing.

  • Mary

     I wondered if our age has anything to do with it as well. I am 41 and cannot lose the last 20 pounds after having six kids. I did lose it after baby number 3 and 4 but not baby 5 and 6. But I was much younger. I am back to tracking my eating on LiveStrong and exercising. I did not have to do that when I was younger. I so notice that I eat more than I use too. 
    I have read your book and I am going to get it out again and follow along with you. 

    • Wendy Jeub

       Hi Mary, Age has everything to do with it. We slow down as we age. We have to watch our food closer and move more. Glad you are following along.

  • Gabe

     I noticed a huge difference during the first trimester of this pregnancy (#7), if I was exercising and eating well.  When I took the time and effort to go for my walks and cook using whole foods I felt fairly well.  However after a few missed days and some quick meals I started feeling awful, and it was hard to pull out of that!

    • Wendy Jeub

      I really can understand how that is. When I was pg I was very sensitive to what I ate and it left me feeling bad if I missed 1 healthy meal. Keep up the good work! You can do it!

  • Dawn Huffmaster

    Just stopping in to say I’ve enjoyed reading your posts on this topic lately! Keep up the good work, and congratulations again on your newest addition to the family! 

  • Dawn

    Just stopping in to say I’ve enjoyed reading your posts on this topic
    lately! Keep up the good work, and congratulations again on your newest
    addition to the family! 

  • Bethany

    Wendy, could you write a post describing the stretching exercises you do while pregnant? I’m 36 weeks with #3 right now and so stiff and sore. I think stretching would feel really good, but I’m unsure what to do. Thanks!

    • Wendy Jeub

      I can point you to some links. The key is to start slow and to not do anything that is a strain.

  • Kimberly Hancock Tisor

    Dear Wendy!!  You have been on my mind lately.  I was beginning to wonder if you were expecting another blessing, so I decided to check out your website…and YES!!…you have a new bundle of joy!  Congratulations!!!  You are an inspiration.  Why don’t more people take an eternal approach to having children and see that each baby is one more soul to glorify the Lord and sing His praises!!  He deserves a mighty chorus!  Blessings to your entire family!

    • Wendy Jeub

      Hi Kim, I think of you too! We should get together for some coffee.
      Thank you for your wonderful note.

      Hugs and Blessings.

  • WarrenTribe

    Hi Wendy~! Great post.  I am 19 weeks pregnant. This will be our tenth child.  I get hyperemesis with each pregnancy and can’t keep anything down during the first trimester so I have to do the whole IV thing.  I am improving now, off IVs, but still on the Zofran.  I am exhausted all the time, and know I am super out of shape since I have had limited activity due to being so sick.  Now anytime I go anywhere, I feel totally wiped out.  I have been feeling like I need to do something to get back in shape and rebuild my strength.  My diet is as best as it can be….whatever stays down, basically.  So your article is the confirmation I need to get going with exercising, which for me, will have to be simple walking since I am still quite weak.  But I look forward to getting started and regaining my energy!!    Thanks for writing all your books. I got the package and have enjoyed reading them! 

  • Anna Peach

    Dear Wendy,
    This is so true! Ive kept active through this No.6 pregnancy, in fact I was able to maintain light Jogging until week 30, and then changed to x2 walks a day morning and evening. I struggled at first with painful varicose veins in my right leg, but although the veins are there, Im sure the walking etc has stopped the pain. The other night I missed my evening walk and after sleeping I woke with really sore/stiff hips, Im sure the walking keeps my hips supple.
     One of the Best things about my daily walks, is the time especially early morning, to Talk/Pray with my Heavenly Father which sets my day off so well. Then in my evening  walk I either take one of my older children or hubby and have conversation time its such a Blessed time and would reccomend this to all pregnant mums.
    Now overdue by a week,and hoping/praying for my first homebirth to go really smoothly anyday, meanwhile I keep on walking. I live in a small village in UK, people watch me walking by each day, and know Im expecting. Some people are waiting to not see me go by to know Ive had our baby!!
     I have invested this time in a Mountain Buggy Jogging  pushchair so wont be long after and baby and I will be out excercising again to lose this excess weight Ive gained too.
    Im now 40 and hoping for more blessings after this baby so need to keep in shape.
    Thank you for your encouraging posts.