Starting a family is one of the most exciting times in your life. Whether you are conceiving naturally or via in vitro fertilization, you should maintain an active lifestyle- especially if it is something you have always partaken in. I am certified to train pre and postnatal women in all stages of pregnancy. As long as you get the clearance from your doctor before you start trying, there is no reason to stop working out and to go on bed rest UNLESS instructed by your doctor to do so.
Here I debunk myths that I have learned from my experiences from working with women while doing IVF.
Myth #1: It’s NOT safe
Short answer is YES it can be! By no means do you need to stop all physical exercise while doing IVF (unless instructed by your doctor). However, you should ditch high-impact workouts like biking, running, any jumping, plyometrics, or other intense cardio, because they could lead to falls and injuries and you also have an increased chance of your ovaries swelling and becoming twisted which obviously would not be so good. I do recommend you getting at least 20-30 mins of exercise 2-3x a week. This can range from walking, lighter weight training, swimming, light yoga or body weight exercises. Moving is good and low impact is where it’s at during this time.
Myth #2: I can continue at the speed I have been going - nothing needs to change
Not so fast - you should actually cut back on not only the intensity of your workouts, but also the frequency. At least until you get past the first cycle and egg removal process. (You should stop all activity the week leading up to egg retrieval). IVF is a complicated and sensitive process. In the beginning, when you are taking all the hormones and administering all the shots, you should be focusing on rest and nutrition more than keeping up with your workouts. You by no means need to stop completely, but you should consider taking the intensity down and also the frequency by at least by ⅓ of what your normal routine has been. Once you get past the egg removal process, consult your doctor and see what they say about working out going forward.
Myth #3: I should work up a sweat
False. Elevating your core temperature while doing IVF isn’t the best idea. Sure your heart rate and body temp will increase, but by no means do you have to be dripping in order to make your workout efficient. Avoid heated exercise classes, like Bikram yoga, and avoid working out in the heat in general. Getting over-heated can lead to various complications while doing IVF. Try to work out early in the morning when it’s cooler if you are an outdoorsy kind of gal or workout indoors in a cool environment. Also try to wear breathable workout clothes to keep yourself cool.
Myth #4: I’ll lose all my muscle and get fat if I don’t workout 5x a week
Not true! It takes a good 3-4 weeks of basically doing next to nothing to lose most of your muscle and although you will feel bloated and extremely uncomfortable, if you are consistently eating well and not overeating, you will not gain fat. You may feel like you are but your hormones at this time can not only make your moods swing, but also that scale weight. Try not to get so fixated on it. If your doctor has instructed strict bed rest or you feel you rather be safe and put all exercise to a halt, that is OK! If you continue with swimming and walking and try to do some bodyweight exercises 1-2 days a week, you will maintain some of your muscle. And if you don’t? Well there's this thing called muscle memory and it’s a real adaptation mechanism our bodies have. Once we build muscle, the good news is it that it doesn't take that much work to get it back again. So stay positive and keep your head up.
Remember IVF is a short term and damn expensive process! You want to give your body the best chances to build and sustain that life inside you! This is (hopefully) a once in a lifetime experience and is temporary. You will get back to taking care of yourself and you will do it happily after all is said and done. Be patient and listen to your body and your doctor in the meantime.
Have questions about your pregnancy? I can help!