The Change-Up: Strength-Training

Adjusting your workout for your pregnant condition with Michelle Mason of Uplift Studios.

The Change-Up: Strength-Training

If you’ve got a baby on the way, you’re going to be doing some heavy lifting. Sure, at first the little one may not even weigh as much as a bag of flour, but pretty soon that newborn grows into an infant, then a toddler, then a kid. And you’re the gal that gets to carry that growing person around. But should you reel in your strength training regimen while that baby is still cooking?

You don’t have to, says Michelle Mason (above), the general manager at NYC’s super-hot women’s-only gym, Uplift Studios. Mason, now eight-months pregnant, is living proof, and has the fabulously toned muscles to show for it. “You'll need to make certain modifications,” she says, “for example, you are not supposed to perform exercises while laying flat on your back as you progress into your second trimester.” But it’s not just about how hot your pregnant bod will look when you’ve got a regular strength-training routine. “Research has shown that women who remain active during their pregnancies can have easier deliveries and recoveries from birth,” adds Mason.

To show how easy it can be to give your workout the old change-up, Well Rounded NY is teaming up with Uplift and Fitbump for an evening of exercise, fitness fashion, healthy food and delicious mocktails this Wednesday, Aug. 14, from 6-8 p.m. Get your sweat on, then do your body good with some snacking and sipping at Uplift’s beautiful Flatiron studio. Sign up here.

If you’re jonesing for some action before the event, check out Mason’s tips on how to adjust a strength-training workout for your new pregnant condition.

Can you weight-train while pregnant?

Absolutely. Weight training is incredibly important for all women, and during pregnancy is no exception. After all, in a few months you'll be lifting heavy strollers, diaper bags and carrying a baby around -- you need to be strong for that! You should aim to complete two to three strength training workouts per week.

Are there areas of your body you can safely weight train during pregnancy?

You can safely work the muscles of the arms, back, chest and legs, doing most of the same exercises that you did before you were pregnant.

What about exercises you’d caution against?

Abdominal exercises where you're laying flat on your back should be avoided, as well as exercises that involve deep spinal rotation/twisting, as this can contribute to diastasis recti, which is a separation of the abdominal muscles (some separation is normal, due to the relaxing abdominal muscles and growing uterus; however, exacerbating this condition can make healing much harder). Planks and bird-dog exercises are generally safe for working the abdominals.

What strength workouts/exercises in this category are particularly beneficial for a pregnant woman?

Squatting is really beneficial for pregnant women; all pregnant women should perform exercises like squats and lunges to build lower body strength, which can really help during labor. Strengthening the back is also very important; focusing on exercises like standing or seated rows and reverse flys will help counteract the postural changes that happen during pregnancy (shoulders rounding forward due to heavier breasts, and lordosis of the lower back due to the weight of the baby changing your center of gravity). These exercises will help beyond pregnancy as well, especially when lifting your baby off of the floor or out of their crib.

My village lives far away—but my Target baby registry helped them support me from afar

Virtual support was the next best thing to in-person hugs

They say you shouldn't make too many major life transitions at once. But when I was becoming a mama for the first time nearly five years ago, my husband and I also moved to a new town where we didn't know a soul, bought our first house and changed jobs.

To put it mildly, we didn't heed that advice. Luckily, our family and friends still made it feel like such a magical time for us by supporting our every move (literal and otherwise) from afar. They showered us with love through a virtual baby shower (expectant parents nowadays can relate!) featuring the unwrapping of gifts they were able to ship straight to me from my Target registry.

Here's one piece of advice I did take: I registered at Target so I could take advantage of the retailer's benefits for registrants, which include a welcome kit valued over $100, a universal registry function and more. Fast-forward a few years and Target has made the registration perks even better for expectant parents: As of August 2020, they've added a Year of Exclusive Deals, which gives users who also sign up for Target Circle a full year of savings after baby is born on all those new mama essentials, from formula to diapers and beyond.

Honestly, even without the significant perks of a free welcome kit with more than $100 in coupons, additional 15% off coupons to complete the registry and a full year of free returns, registering at Target wasn't a hard sell for me: Even though the experience of shopping for baby items was new, shopping with Target felt like returning home to me… and the comfort of that was such a gift.

And of course, Target's registry plays a vital role right now, as expectant parents everywhere are being forced to cancel in-person baby showers and navigate early parenthood without the help of a hands-on village. A registry like this represents a safe way for communities to come through for new parents. If you're anything like me (or any of the other mamas here at Motherly), you certainly have emotional ties and fond memories associated with Target.

What to register for at Target was also an easy talking point as I began to connect with moms in my new community. I will always remember going on a registry-building spree with my next door neighbor, who had young children of her own. As we walked the aisles of Target back in 2015, she suggested items to add… and we laid the foundation for what has since become one of my most cherished friendships.

Even as I made connections in my new hometown, I was nervous that expecting my first baby wouldn't feel as special as if I were near family and friends. But my loved ones exceeded all expectations by adding the most thoughtful notes to gifts. They hosted a beautiful virtual baby shower and even encouraged me to keep the registry going after my baby made his debut and new needs arose.

In the years since, "community" has taken on a wonderfully complex new meaning for me… and, in these times of social distancing, for the rest of the world. I've come to cherish my newfound friends in our local community alongside those long-time friends who are scattered around the county and my virtual mama friends.

Now, as my friends' families grow, I'm so grateful that I can show them the same love and support I felt during my first pregnancy. I sing the praises of Target's baby registry—especially in light of the pandemic, since I know mamas can do everything from a distance thanks to Target's website and the added benefit of getting trusted reviews and helpful registry checklists.

And now that I'm on the gift-buying side of the equation, I've found new joy in picking thoughtful gifts for my friends. (Because goodness knows Target has something for everyone!)

For my friend who is a fellow runner, I teamed up with a few others to give the jogging stroller she had on her registry.

For my friend who is a bookworm, I helped her start her baby's library with a few books that are also well-loved in our home.

For other friends, I've bundled together complete "sets" with everything they need for bathing or feeding their children.

I know from my own experience that, yes, the registry purchases are so appreciated, but the thoughtfulness and the support they represent means even more. Because although my village may have been distant, the support they showed me was the next best thing to in-person hugs.

Start your own Target Baby Registry here to experience a Year of Benefits including a Year of Exclusive Deals through Target Circle to enjoy for a full year following your baby's arrival, a year of free returns, two 15% off completion coupons and a free welcome kit ($100 value).

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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