If I'm being honest, I kind of feel like a tool writing this post, because it sounds like I think everyone is always running to me for advice, and I just know everything (errr...I usually know nothing about anything ha). There is much more I have to learn, but as I've said before, I always try to share what I DO know! Through being certified in personal training, women's fitness, and pre/postnatal exercise, and doings TONS of my own research, I've learned a thing or two along the way.
This ole' Good For The Swole thing has given me the opportunity to talk to lots of pregnant and postpartum women, and I find the same type of questions are asked over and over. If I don't initially have the answer, I research and study up so I know more and can be a better help for the next time it does. From emails, DMs, comments, and what not, I would say 80% of the questions are always along the lines of the ones listed below. I hope sharing this, and the answers I give, help a sista out (now or in the future)!
WHAT PROTEIN POWDER IS SAFE FOR PREGNANCY/BREASTFEEDING? WHAT PRODUCTS DO YOU TAKE?
The FDA has regulations that require ALL products (supplements included) to list "if you are pregnant or nursing, please consult with your doctor before consuming this product"...or something similar to those lines. That means that NO ONE should recommend a certain supplement for you to take unless they are your medical professional. Every pregnancy is different, and every body is different, and your doctor knows your unique situation. I will never tell you what supplement you can/cannot take because a) I am not your doctor and b) I don't know your pregnancy and your body. I always say to take a picture of the ingredients of a product you want to take, and show it to your doctor at your next appointment. They will let you know if it is suitable for you or not.
As for ME, I used Ideal Raw's protein powder throughout my pregnancy (and still do while I am nursing). My doctor's approved it for me and the ingredients are ones I feel comfortable using. I also use Vital Proteins collagen peptides every now and then (no specific reason why it's not daily. I just don't feel like I always have to have it). Besides protein powder, the only other products I take daily (whether pregnant, nursing, or not) are a prenatal, a probiotic, and a fish oil.
HOW MUCH WEIGHT SHOULD I HAVE GAINED BY "X" AMOUNT OF WEEKS?
I swear most of the other questions I can specifically answer haha, but this is another one that I can't tell you because it's simply not my place. Weight gain during pregnancy is SO unique. I'm sorry, but I just don't agree with the 25-35lb recommended weight gain. I know there has to be a range given, and it can be a helpful reference, but EVERY WOMAN IS SO DIFFERENT! There are women who gain less than that amount who are perfectly healthy, and have perfectly healthy babies, and there are women who gain much more than 35lbs (and who lose it all so fast!!), and who take such good care of themselves and also have perfectly healthy babies. There is never a "one size fits all" to pregnancy. Of course I'm not going to be able to tell you how much you should have gained by X amount of weeks, and how much is "too much". That is between you and your doctor.
I TOTALLY understand the stress that the scale can bring during pregnancy, because you just don't know what to expect or how your body will respond. With Piper, I would google "how much weight should I have gained at X weeks", because I wanted to make sure I was on track! Pregnancy is stressful enough! Why was I adding extra stress on top of it?! With Jack I didn't think twice about my weight gain because it does not matter (unless your doctor is concerned, of course). What I recommend focusing on is fueling your body properly with lots of REAL food, and staying active. Those are things that you can control and that keep both you and your baby healthy during pregnancy. Your body will gain what it needs to.
DO I NEED TO ADJUST MY WEIGHTS DURING PREGNANCY?
Unless you feel ANY sort of discomfort, no, you don't necessarily need to. Some women do need to bring the weight down and that's great! Some women feel fine and maintain the same weights they used pre-pregnancy, and that's also great! Keep in mind that the hormone relaxin does loosen your joints and ligaments during pregnancy, so if you can't keep your movements well controlled with weights, it may be a good idea to reduce the weights in order to keep good form and reduce your chances of injury.
WHEN SHOULD I STOP DOING "X" EXERCISE?
**I wrote a full blog post on Pregnancy Exercise 101 that goes into detail on this topic.
Generally speaking, you do not need to modify anything during the first trimester (unless you feel any type of discomfort or pain, or if your doctor tells you otherwise). Once you enter the second trimester, you want to start making changes to your routine in order to adapt to all the changes going on internally and externally. This is when you should stop doing "regular" core exercises - crunches, ab bicycles (or any twisting exercise), leg lifts, reverse crunches, planks, and also push ups. You also want to avoid being on your back for long periods of time from this point on. During the third trimester, you'll want to stay away from jumping type of exercises - jump squats, jump lunges, etc., because it can actually weaken the pelvic floor and your core. Other than that, it just depends on what feels right for YOU. For example, if running doesn't feel good, then switch to another type of cardio. If running feels fine, then keep doing it. Your body will let you know what's "too much".
WHAT EXERCISES ARE SAFE FOR DIASTASIS RECTI/WHAT SHOULD I AVOID?
Again, my Pregnancy Exercise 101 post addresses this. ALL of my pregnancy workouts in my guide, and on Instagram, are always safe for diastasic recti (you can get my guide HERE). If you have diastasic recti, you want to avoid the same type of core exercises that you would during pregnancy (crunches, twisting, leg lifts, planks, push ups, etc.) until it has healed. These exercises can make it much worse, and the gap from coming back together. The pregnancy core workouts and postpartum recovery workouts I post on Instagram are the type of exercises that will help!
HOW CAN I EAT HEALTHY DURING THE 1ST TRIMESTER WHEN NOTHING "HEALTHY" SOUNDS GOOD?
Ugh. I do not miss this stage. The only vegetable I could stand during both first trimesters was crunchy lettuce. I always say DO THE BEST YOU CAN! The first trimester is totally just survival mode. I was super nauseous 24/7 and threw up multiple times every.single.day. Bread and crackers were pretty much the only things that settled my stomach and stayed down, so I ate those a ton. Hang in there! It gets better and SO much easier to eat healthy. The baby is so tiny at this point, and gets all of it's nutritional needs from the prenatal, so just do what you can for yourself! I thought I was doomed and didn't see how I could possibly have a healthy pregnancy, but it does get better! Take advantage of the healthy foods you CAN tolerate, and be gentle with yourself.
I'M TOO SICK TO WORKOUT DURING THE 1ST TRIMESTER. WHAT DO I DO?
Again, hang in there because it gets so much easier! With Piper, I actually wasn't allowed to do any type of exercise during the first trimester because that was when I had the blood clot in my arm. It did take off a lot of the stress/guilt from not working out because I was following my doctor's orders, but I wouldn't have been able to do anything anyway because I was so sick. With Jack, I think I worked out 2x during the first trimester, and went on a few walks with the stroller, but that was the extent of it. Some women aren't as sick and can keep up with their routine, and others really struggle. Similar to what I said above, HANG IN THERE because it does get better!! Once I stopped being so sick (around 14/15 weeks), I was able to get right back to working out again! Yes, you can still exercise even if you didn't during the first trimester. You can absolutely still have a healthy/fit pregnancy, even if you weren't consistently exercising for those first few months. Do what you can! If you CAN manage a 10-15 walk - DO IT! If you feel well enough to do some resistance training - TAKE ADVANTAGE!
IF I WASN'T ACTIVE PRE-PREGNANCY, CAN I START EXERCISING DURING PREGNANCY?
One of the BIGGEST "healthy pregnancy" myths is that you can't start exercising if you weren't before you got pregnancy. What a load of cr*p!! Of course, pregnancy is definitely not the time to start training for like a marathon if you've never run before (duh), but of course you can start practicing healthy habits during pregnancy! It is never, ever too late to start reaping the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle. It is recommended to start with 15 minutes of exercise, 3 times a week. Obviously be gentle with yourself - there is no need to start pushing yourself like crazy person -but, while listening to your body, start moving and choose a form of exercise that makes you feel good! Body weight exercises, the stationary bike, walking, and swimming are all great places to start! As long as you are given the all-clear by your doctor, both you and your baby will benefit!
WHAT IS CONING?
Coning is when you can see a bulge popping out down the midline of your stomach. This occurs when you are putting too much stress of your abdominals, or doing an exercise that is not appropriate during pregnancy. If you ever notice coning in your stomach, try to avoid that exercise or movement as that stress on your abdominals is what can lead to abdominal separation and diastasis recti. The exercises I listed above under "what exercises to avoid" result in coning, but, like I said, if you notice anything else cause your stomach to cone, stay away from it until post-pregnancy!
SHOULD I GET A POSTPARTUM GIRDLE?
I think this is a personal decision and I don't think there is anything WRONG with wearing/using one. I personally don't use a girdle because I don't think it is a necessary for recovery. They do compress your stomach which CAN help reduce the swelling a little faster...but that swelling will come down on it's own regardless. It can help with lower back pain, but lower back pain is a result of a weak core - which pelvic floor strengthening exercises will help not only reduce the pain, but actually fix the problem. That's just my two cents. Again, I don't think it's bad if you want one, but those reasons are why I don't think it is a for sure necessity.
HOW IS THE TRANSITION TO TWO KIDS/HAVING TWO UNDER TWO?
I'm leaving this question for another day, because a) it'll require a whole post haha and b) it's all still pretty fresh and we're still making the transition now that we don't have people staying with us and we're back from spending Christmas in Utah. This has been the first week I've been alone with the babies, and I'm starting to figure out our new routine/schedule. I want to answer this in a couple of weeks after I actually have experience with all of that.