Continuing your fitness routine into pregnancy is important for the well-being of you and your baby.
Exercise during pregnancy, particularly by means of weight training, has been shown to improve maternal fitness and control the amount of weight gained without doing harm to the growth of the fetus. Continuing your exercise routine into pregnancy has numerous other benefits such as improved mood, increased energy and a more restful sleep. Challenging workouts such as kettlebell swings can be a great way to stay fit and prepare for the rigors of labor, but they are not safe for everyone.
The Cardinal Rule
The across-the-board consensus -- or "cardinal rule" -- is that if you were regularly participating in any physical activity before pregnancy, you should be able to continue it into your pregnancy. Obviously, there are some exceptions. You should not participate in any contact sport or anything that can take you off balance. Due to a hormone called relaxin, your joints loosen during pregnancy, making it easier to get injured. If you have been regularly doing kettlebell swings, you may be able to continue them. However, before you lift one kettlebell, talk to your doctor.
Consult Your OBGYN
The cardinal rule, or consensus, only applies to women with healthy, typical pregnancies. Consult your OB to be sure that your specific exercise plan is safe for you. Be sure to ask about each trimester of your pregnancy since some exercises that may be safe for the first trimester may not be safe for the third trimester. For example, you should avoid lying flat on your back after the first trimester because your growing belly puts pressure on a major vein called the vena cava, which can cut off blood flow and oxygen. If your doctor gives you the green light to continue kettlebell swings, it is important to know how to complete the exercises safely.
Pregnancy Kettlebell Exercises
Some kettlebell exercises -- such as kettlebell swings -- are safer than others during pregnancy. You should avoid exercises that put strain on your joints, such as windmills, and those that require you to twist your mid-section. You should also avoid any exercises that require you to lift a kettlebell over your head. Sumo squats, lunges, arm rows and triceps extensions should all be safe kettlebell exercises for pregnancy if you have been doing these exercises regularly prior to getting pregnant and your doctor gives you the go ahead on them.
Pregnancy Kettlebell Routine
Use lighter-weight kettlebells than you normally would to avoid strain to your loosening joints. Shoot for 15 to 20 repetitions of each exercise. Take your time and breath deeply throughout your workout. Do not hold your breath or use pressurized breathing when lifting the kettlebell. This is unsafe for your baby because it reduces oxygen flow. Two 20-to-30-minute strength-training sessions per week combined with a good cardiovascular routine will go a long way to keeping you and your developing baby healthy.