I write this with most of my stomach firmly on my lap. I am in my 38th week of pregnancy and have hooped in every trimester, and at least half of the days in this pregnancy. I have found it to be a wonderful chance to partner dance with my womb companion. This is my third pregnancy where I have used prenatal hooping as my primary form of exercise. There are some tips and tricks I wanted to share with you about hooping through each trimester. As with any exercise regimen in pregnancy, your doctor should give you the okay first! Hooping doesn’t have to mean hooping on your waist either! Off-body tricks can result in increasing your heart rate and providing a creative outlet as on-body hooping.
The First Trimester:
For me this was the only time I was ever sick to my stomach. That being the case I did not want to be spinning in circles so I found myself with a much larger hoop early on. The larger hoop was great because I didn’t need to spin around to keep it up. And after my heart rate was up and I downed some fluids my stomach ache went away most of the time. Hooping for 3 hour stretches until your abs are sore is not recommended. Save that for postnatal hooping! Take it easy! If you haven’t gotten a set of minis yet – do that! The minis or double hoops will be your go-to when it comes time to transition mostly to off-body in the last trimester. For other hoopers who are not sure what size hoop they should get – a “slow” or “medium” speed hoop that can have segments added on if needed is best. I do carry an add-on called “shrink with me” for those who want bigger hoops that can get smaller over time – but guess what – you can do the opposite too!! All hoopmakers can do this easy attachment if you let them know about it – and if not you can always come ask me!
What about the seasons? If you are finding out your child will be coming in the dead of winter and you don’t have an indoor hooping space, now is the time to find one! Is there a gym/YMCA/community rec room you can use? Find a space now if you happen to be somewhere that snow falls. Is your baby due in late summer? Expect to enjoy hooping much more in the early trimester because towards the end you’ll be HOT and SWEATING. A recipe for edema and dehydration! So get yourself a cooler hoop space in mind for the long haul.
The Second Trimester:
This has always been my favorite time for prenatal hooping! My energy was at a good level thanks to proper hydration and nutrition. Diet makes a big difference in making this possible so make sure you’re taking your prenatal vitamins and eating whole foods over processed ones (I’m sure you know this but hearing it over and over tends to happen when you’re looking for solutions to pregnancy ailments). You may finally notice your belly getting in the way of tricks like wedgies and moving the hoop from your legs back up to your waist. The hoop may be falling down quite a bit now, actually. I picked up more of my off-body tricks during this time to prepare for my third trimester when I knew the hoop would be near impossible to keep up around my waist. Shoulder hooping was also my main go-to. You can practice breaks/reversals if you are still using a medium/fast speed hoop (smaller diameter than an on-body hoop). But if you want to mix it up a bit you should really hoop on your legs more! Leg hooping is great for getting those legs pumping the falling fluids throughout the body. If you can manage single-leg hooping without getting hurt that will help strengthen those legs too! Your legs are going to need a muscular boost for the third trimester. Another great practice is going for walks with your hoop. You don’t need to be waist hooping while you walk but adding a little upper-body flow while you’re walking up a low grade hill will give you a ton of muscle for that third trimester baby transporting system. I’ve never had vericose veins either. Not sure if its hooping related or genetic but my mother and grandmother both got them in pregnancy and my strong hooping legs always were able to keep those veins away!
The Third Trimester:
Your waist is no longer your own at this point. Its also not a waist, welcome to the dilemma of the apple-shaped hooper. Is hooping on your waist possible? Yes. Is it difficult? Yes. Will you want to give up waist hooping? Probably. Is it safe? Well, that is really something you should discuss with your doctor. Their recommendation for women with normal/healthy pregnancies is that you should be able to do any exercise you did before pregnancy. What if you started hooping after you became pregnant? It is possible you could hurt yourself with on-body hooping in pregnancy. Yes! I said it – why is that?
Its a little something called “Diastasis Recti.” Basically after your womb has stretched apart the muscles of your waist they are inclined to stay separated if you happen to continue to use those muscles as if they were not stretched apart. They will contract just as normal when hooping. A very large hoop is easy to keep up when your belly is big, and I’ve found if your stomach doesn’t hurt at all at the end of your workout then you did it right. You should limit the time to 15-20 minutes in the last trimester because you don’t want to overexert yourself but you do want to keep your body circulating at max capacity!
I’ve definitely had an oblique muscle tinge after waist hooping too much on-body in my third trimester. If you ever feel this you know you’ve gone too far and you should rest, recover, and stick to off-body stuff for awhile. It really isn’t worth the risk no matter how bodylicious you feel! If you do not want to possible permanently stretch your abs apart then you should stick to off-body in your third trimester. Its only a few months and right after baby comes you can waist hoop like crazy!
Image of what happens in Diastasis Recti: https://mutusystem.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Diastasis-Recti-V3.jpg
What kind of hoop do you buy for prenatal hooping??
1.3 x your waist = slow speed hoop
1.2 x your waist = medium speed hoop
1.1 x your waist = fast speed hoop
For beginner pregnant hoopers you should get a lightweight hoop (125 psi 1/2″ ID Polyethylene or 3/4″ OD Polypro/HDPE) with a medium speed if you know how to hoop already or a slow speed if you do not. Fast speed hoops may already be in your hoop stash and these or minis are great for doing off-body tricks throughout your pregnancy – but may be the bulk of your hoopdance in the third trimester if you find waist hooping difficult or impossible (which I have found to be the case 2/3 pregnancies).
So if your waist around the navel is 30″ you’d need (1.3 x 30″ = 39″ hoop)…. For the second and third trimester its very helpful to have a hoop that can go up in size. A single 12″ segment will be good if you are on schedule with your weight gain (it adds 4″ to the hoop circumference). If you happen to get a little larger than most women in pregnancy (I gain 50 typically and have friends who have gained 100) I’d suggest 12″ segment for your hoop for every 25 lb you gain.
What does your checkout look like? 1×39″ hoop, and for a woman who gains 50lb: 2x 12″ hoop segments.
If you can get a hoop that also breaks down into two smaller hoops that would be ideal! Then you can transition from your lightweight body hoop to two mini hoops!