When Alejandra Serret, a fitness pro and cycle instructor, found out she was pregnant, she cautiously approached it like a challenge. Could she keep up her physically demanding teaching schedule without compromising her health or the health of her baby?
Turns out the answer was yes. Alejandra now has a happy, healthy 18-month-old boy and she worked out hard for her entire pregnancy. How’d she do it and what advice does she have for other expectant moms? We sat down with Alejandra to get her top tips for working out while pregnant.
Listen to your body – not your competitive side
“The difficult thing about working out during pregnancy is that it’s very specific to each individual person,” says Alejandra. “I was able to ride until the day I had him, but what feels good for me doesn’t necessarily feel good for other people.”
She says that if any point you feel out of breath or overly hot, you should stop immediately. Otherwise, feel free to crank up the power.
“People who watched me and rode with me were shocked at how hard I went. They’d come up to me and ask me if my heart rate was supposed to get so elevated, which made me question if I was pushing myself too much,” she says.
“Luckily, my doctors really trusted me. They’d told me that I’d gotten pregnant as a fit person, so I could continue being a fit person and reassured me that as long as I felt okay, the baby would be okay.”
Keep it consistent
Alejandra says that typically, you can continue the same level of exercise you were doing before you became pregnant – but she cautions that if you’re looking to start a more extreme regimen, you should pump the brakes.
“If you’re not working out hard, now is not the time to push yourself. In those situations, a slower type of exercise is great and simply walking can be very helpful, especially in your third trimester,” she says.
“I watched this insane Crossfit athlete on Instagram and it blew my mind that she was eight months pregnant and doing things that my husband couldn’t even do. It made me realize that as long as your body is conditioned for high intensity, it’s not necessary to slow down.”
Give in to the cravings
While Alejandra already eats a clean diet with minimal refined cards, she says when she started craving bread and pasta, she allowed herself to have it.
“I would let myself have whatever I was cravings but I tried to eat a healthier version of it. For example, I fell in love with BLTs, so I’d make them with turkey bacon and add avocado to get good fats in at the same time. I also craved tuna salad, which is high in mercury and not recommended during pregnancy, so I’d make shredded chicken salad and load it up with dijon mustard.”
She also says that she snacked frequently – something she didn’t typically do before she was pregnant. “I figured my cravings and hunger were happening for a reason, so instead of depriving myself, I tried to satiate the craving without compromising my overall health.”
Hydrate like it’s going out of style
Your body produces 50 percent more blood when you’re pregnant, so it’s extra important to stay hydrated and pay attention to your electrolyte balance when you’re working out.
“Early on, I started getting cramps in my belly, which really scared me, but my doctor said it was just dehydration. From there on out, I was very aware of my hydration levels and paid special attention to getting adequate electrolytes,” says Alejandra.
“I got really into Gatorade and was worried that the sugar content was too high, but the baby wasn’t bothered by it and my diet otherwise was very clean, so I didn’t stress out about that one ‘bad’ food,” she explains.
If you’d rather have a no-sugar option, pick up a bottle of electrolyte mineral drops and squeeze a few into a glass of water. Sea salt and Himalayan salt are also packed with good minerals, so don’t feel guilty about picking up the shaker.
Adjust your work-out accordingly
During the first trimester, many women complain of fatigue and Alejandra says there’s no shame in giving in to the nap temptation whenever possible.
“I rested when I felt like I needed it, but my workouts didn’t suffer. As my pregnancy progressed, I simply had to adjust the settings on my bike to accommodate my bigger belly,” she says.
During this time, your breathing may also change due to the high levels of progesterone that signal your brain to lower carbon dioxide levels in your blood. In later stages of pregnancy, your breathing could be also labored as your uterus grows and pushes against your diaphragm.
“I slowed down if I felt like I was getting out of breath, but I still taught fifteen classes a week through my second trimester. I was teaching 9 classes a week at the end of my pregnancy,” she says. “Overall, I felt fine and even though I was tired, I told myself that every pregnant woman is tired, so that wasn’t an excuse!”
Getting ready for the real deal
Alejandra says that working out made her feel so much stronger when it came time for her son’s birth: “Labor is one of the most physically taxing things you’ll do in your life and being in better shape can only help with that process. Even though my labor was not ideal, I know I would have been more tired had I not maintained my fitness routine throughout my pregnancy.”
Disclaimer: Check with your doctor and health care team before implementing or continuing any work-out routine during your pregnancy.