Congratulations! You’re pregnant! Welcome to the journey of the next nine months – not to mention the next 18 years and the rest of your life. You’re probably wondering what you can and can’t do in terms of exercise now that you’re expecting so I’m going to give you a few ideas.
Even if you’re not used to exercising, pregnancy is a good time to start because there’s loads of benefits from exercising while pregnant – physical and emotional.
First things first though, before starting any exercise program, but especially while pregnant, please consult your GP or obstetrician, to ensure it’s okay for you to exercise. If you’re given the all clear, here goes!
* Listen to your body. It is the most important thing to do. If you are feeling tired, exhausted, nauseous, light-headed, don’t exercise. REST. If you feel any of these symptoms while exercising, slow down and stop.
* But also remember pregnant women can do a lot in the vast majority of pregnancies.
* Make sure you:
- Wear comfortable clothing
- Wear a supportive bra
- Stay hydrated, drinking water often during the workout
- Don’t overheat your body, stay cool.
- Can hold a conversation with someone throughout the workout, to ensure you’re not pushing yourself too hard.
* There are a few things that happen to your body during pregnancy which can affect how you exercise.
* When pregnant, the protein hormone relaxin loosens your ligaments, which could increase the risk of joint injuries.
* When you progress through your pregnancy, your body’s centre of gravity moves, which can alter balance and co-ordination. So take extra care on things where you need to balance.
* Your resting heart rate increases, so rather than using a heart rate monitor, another method to work out the intensity of your workout is use the Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE). This means you want to be able to have a conversion with someone; you don’t want to be too red in the face; and you don’t want to push yourself as hard as you would if you weren’t pregnant.
* There are a number of activities you can do while pregnant. They include:
- Pregnancy Yoga – make sure they are pre/post natal qualified.
- Pregnancy Pilates – make sure they are pre/post natal qualified. These are especially good for focussing on pelvic floor exercise which help during labour and recovery.
- Water aerobics
- Stationery bike – outdoor bikes should be okay before 5 months – but that will depend on your balance
- Running and weight training – if you did either of these before being pregnant, it’s generally fine to continue. But do not start them up now if you haven’t previously done it! And again, listen to your body and consult a professional if you have any questions, especially in relation to strength/weight training.
* There are a few things to avoid while pregnant, such as:
- Contact sports or activities where you are more likely to fall over.
- Be careful lifting any weights over your head, especially if you tend to get light headed or dizzy.
- After about 14 weeks, it is not recommended to do any exercises on your back. The weight of the baby can slow the return of blood to your heart and also your bub.
- Abdominal exercises – crunches, sit ups etc can be ineffective during pregnancy and may make the condition known as diastasis recti abdominis (a painless splitting of the abdominal muscle at the midline) worse.
- I would also minimise any high impact/jumping exercises. Instead keep them low impact.
In a nutshell
1st trimester: Keep doing what you’ve been doing if you feel up to it. If you’re suffering from morning sickness or tiredness – those fun things! – listen to your body and rest if you need to.
2nd trimester: Hopefully, you’re over the morning sickness so you probably have more energy. If you feel up to it, go for it! Low impact, gentle exercise is fine – but no more tummy exercises on your back; no jumping; and switch from running to power walking. In the second trimester, your blood pressure drops, so it is important to avoid rapid changes of position – from lying to standing, and vice versa – so as not to experience dizzy spells.
3rd trimester: You’re in the home stretch! You’ve probably started to slow down. I walked every day of my pregnancy and as the days went on, it became more of a waddle. I was walking the same distance, just getting slower and slower! I even walked the day I went into labour! As long as you feel comfortable, have no pain, get out there and get some fresh air at the same time! Do what you feel up to and don't push yourself too hard.
After the baby: Once you’ve had the okay from your obstetrician, get back into your exercise routine gently and at the right pace for you. You can always check out my Mummy Bootcamp!