I've always heard you should keep doing the same physical activities you're used to during pregnancy. For me though, that would have meant sitting in front of my computer screen all day long. No way that was going to happen. I wanted to take good care of the little one growing inside me, and of myself, to prepare for delivery. I wanted light activities, that I could easily build up and maybe even continue after giving birth.
I remember thinking I would never EVER do yoga, it was much too weird, those positions, the heavy breathing, why would anyone like that? I had no idea how amazing it actually is. When my masseuse suggested it to me I kind of laughed in my head. On my way back home though, I figured why not? She'd always given me very good advice and I trusted her. This was BY FAR the best activity I did for myself; I even returned during my 2nd pregnancy. I have to be honest though, it really depends on the teacher, and how serious you are about it.
My first teacher was awesome, she showed us basic positions and encouraged us to try harder variations depending on our capacities. The cat/cow pose did wonders for my lower back pains (it was also the most amazing way to push during the last phase of labor!). The child's pose helped me a lot with relaxation and deep breathing (even during labor!). The butterfly pose was great for helping widen my hip bones and the goddess pose allowed me to practice muscular endurance combined with breathing exercises (which helped prepare me for dealing with the pain of labor).
The most important thing I learned though, was how to breathe and not feel stupid about doing it loudly. We worked on vocal ohms during most poses (my second teacher didn't do this and I was quite disappointed). What is ohm you ask? It's a deep breathing sound that comes from deep within. The weirdest thing ever, seriously, I felt like I was mooing like a cow. You know what though? This was probably THE BEST thing to practice for delivery. During labor, this is one of the only things that helped me stay focused and relaxed. Instead of thinking about the pain, I would thing about those very long deep sounds I was making. Magic.
I've always loved water so naturally, I had to inquire at the pool if they had prenatal programs and they did! So I registered. I remember thinking I looked pretty silly jumping up and down in the water and walking around waving my arms. At first I didn't think it was helping me much, but after a while, I discovered that the intensity of the workout depends on how much energy you put into it. I pushed a little bit harder every class. I'm not sure how much this activity actually helped me physically, but it was nice to think about something else for a while and get out of the house. I didn't end up doing this activity for my second pregnancy but I'm glad I tried it out.
By the way, this is probably one of the times you'll be wanting to wear a bikini. I've always been shy about my body, but being pregnant is just so beautiful that I felt super comfortable showing off my new curves. Which worked out well because I didn't have to buy a completely new bathing suit. Although I did have to change the top because my breasts engorged so much that my existing one ended up looking like tiny little triangles. Lol.
I really enjoyed walking during my pregnancy. It was a nice way to get some fresh air, spend some quality time with my husband, and get moving. This is an activity that I continued doing with my children once they were born. It's good for everyone, forces us to spend some time together, and it's a great activity to give you a break from entertaining your kids (especially if you don't want to use the television as a distraction).
If you don't already do this on a semi-regular basis I strongly suggest it. Even if it's just once a month, it's totally worth it. Getting all those tensions out of your muscles is a must, especially during pregnancy. All the changes going on in my body caused me discomfort, and this was an amazing way to ease my body into accepting these changes. I did this for both of my pregnancies and continue to do so when I need some "me" time.
Restaurants, operas, plays, weekend escapades, or even just to the movies. I tried to go out as much as I could before I had my first child because I knew it would be a while before I would be able to do so again. I'm glad that I did and would most likely do it WAY MORE than I did because now I know how much "no time for myself" actually means "no time for myself". I figured I'd have at least an hour to myself every day. Nu-hun. Nope. Nada. Even when/if I can find a little time to go out, I either end up feeling guilty or thinking about my kids the entire time. I'm sure this is something that will fade over time, but for now, it's a little bit overwhelming. In any case, I quite enjoyed taking the opportunity to go to the movies and eat out during my pregnancy.
The most important thing I got from doing these activities though, is some time to reflect on my pregnancy; what I wanted to get out of it, what I hoped for my little one, how I wanted my delivery to go and what role I wanted my husband to have in the process. It also gave me the opportunity to make friends with other women that were going through the same thing as me.
Disclaimer: I am not a health professional, I am simply sharing my personal experience hoping to encourage future mothers. What worked for me may not work for you. Always consult your obstetrician with questions concerning your pregnancy.