Working out when you’re pregnant is hard. When you’re carrying around a baby-to-be in your belly, it completely changes your body. As a result, it also completely changes your workouts. So, imagine working out while carrying more than one baby. If you’re pregnant with multiples (like twins or triplets), the changes—to your body and your exercise routine—are even more intense.
“Working out with multiples is basically twice [or] triple as hard as carrying a single. Everything in your body is basically doubled—blood volume, placentas, water weight,” says Aaptiv Trainer and mother of twins Rochelle Moncourtois. She knows all too well how being pregnant with multiples can throw a wrench in your workout routine.
Carrying multiple babies is an exciting experience—don’t let it deter you from exercise. Read on to learn more about what to expect, how to protect yourself and your babies, and how to stay active—safely—throughout your pregnancy.
Weight Gain and Workouts
Obviously, women gain weight when they’re pregnant. But when you’re pregnant with multiples, that weight gain also multiplies. That additional weight has a huge impact on how your body feels.
“When you are having more than one, you will be expected to gain more weight,” says Aaptiv Trainer and pre/postnatal fitness expert Jaime McFaden. “You might feel more tired and other pregnancy symptoms might come sooner. Back pain is very likely in pregnancy—and even more with multiples. There are more changes going on in your body, so you will feel things sooner.”
“When you are having more than one, you will be expected to gain more weight. You might feel more tired and other pregnancy symptoms might come sooner.”
And, all those weight gain-related changes mean that working out is just more difficult. Plus, being pregnant with multiples means that there are some workouts you just can’t do. For example, a lot of women love to run during their pregnancies. But, running while pregnant with twins? Out of the question. “While I was pregnant with my twins, I had to stop running right away because my joints became so loose, I didn’t want to cause injury to them or to myself,” says Moncourtois. “Whereas, if I would have been pregnant with a single, I probably could have run the entire pregnancy.”
Or, for another example, women pregnant with multiples need to be hyper-aware of any exercises that put too much weight on their backs. “With multiples, you also have to be aware of exercises that are done laying on your back,” says Moncourtois. “I had to stop performing those exercises at a certain point because my stomach was too heavy and there was too much pressure on my back.”
Risks of Working Out When Carrying Multiples
There are certain risks associated with working out during pregnancy—and with all that extra weight gain (and the changes it causes in the body), those risks are amplified when you’re pregnant with multiples. “There are many risks associated with pregnancy such as overheating, dehydration, putting too much pressure on the cervix, headaches, dizziness, [and] early contractions,” says McFaden.
Being pregnant with multiples also presents its own unique set of challenges and risks. “Being pregnant with multiples means [that] your joints become even looser than with a single,” says Moncourtois. “The hormones relaxin and progesterone relax the muscles and ligaments, which can be dangerous with certain exercises … the biggest risk is pulling a muscle from your loose joints.”
If you’re pregnant with multiples, talking to your doctor before you begin any workout routine is non-negotiable. Your doctor can help evaluate you and your babies’ health and figure out a workout routine that not only keeps you active but also keeps you safe.
How to Work Out While Pregnant With Multiples
Clearly, there’s a lot to consider when working out while pregnant with multiples. Here are some tips to guide your workouts during pregnancy.
Take it easy.
First things first, being pregnant with multiples is not the time to train for a marathon, try HIIT for the first time, or push yourself in the gym. Take your pregnancy as an opportunity to slow down and engage in workouts that are easy on your body.
“Take it easy! If your doctor gives you the green light to work out, you can bet they will tell you to take it slower than you normally would—[and] with good reason,” says McFaden. “Things like swimming, stretching, and light bodyweight exercises are a great way [to stay active while pregnant with multiples.]”
Pay attention to how you feel during your workouts. If a certain exercise puts too much stress on your body, switch to something low impact. If you start to feel tired, stop and take a break. Don’t push yourself too hard, and enjoy taking a more relaxed approach to fitness.
Get the right support.
All the extra weight that comes with a multiples pregnancy can put a lot of strain on your body—so getting a little extra support during your workouts is a must. “I gained 60 pounds with my twins and my waist went from 25 to 45 inches! This had a significant impact on my workouts towards the end,” says Moncourtois. “I had to wear a Belly Bandit that helped support the weight of my stomach so [that] I could perform safe exercises.”
Supportive gear (like a Belly Bandit) can help support your tummy during workouts. This will lower the impact your pregnancy weight gain has on the rest of your body and make exercising while you’re carrying multiples easier and safer.
Check in regularly with your doctor.
Again, before you start any workout routine while pregnant, you need to talk to your doctor. But, that’s not the end of the conversation! Your doctor may give you the green light to work out when you’re three months pregnant. But that doesn’t mean that you should still be doing the same workouts in month six or month eight.
“I recommend asking your doctor every trimester if you’re cleared to work out. Most will probably tell you to take it easy at a certain point—unless you have no limitations or complications during your pregnancy,” says Moncourtois. “I had to stop working out at about seven months into my pregnancy…for me, my stomach became too heavy to maneuver around!”
Make sure to check in with your doctor regularly to make sure that you’re good to continue exercising. And, if he or she puts the kibosh on your fitness routine? Don’t worry about it! Give your body the rest it needs to support your pregnancy. The gym (and your workouts!) will be waiting for you after the birth.