Thinking about exercising during pregnancy? Join Natalie, our pre and postnatal fitness specialist to find out her top tips for what to include and what to avoid.
Exercising during pregnancy is a really good idea
For years there’s been the common misconception that woman should avoid or stop exercising whilst pregnant as it may potentially cause harm to the baby.
But many studies have since proven that there’s actually many benefits for both Mum and Bub if you stay active during your pregnancy. Some of these include:
- Reduced risk of pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia
- Healthy and steady pregnancy weight gain
- Less pregnancy related aches, pains and discomfort
- Improved sleep
- Higher energy levels
- A quicker labour and recovery
- A quicker “bounce back” to your pre-pregnancy weight
Things to AVOID when exercising during pregnancy:
- High impact activities such as plyometric or ballistic training, due to increased joint laxity from pregnancy hormones you’re at higher risk of injury.
- Exercise intensity or duration where you feel hot, exhausted or excessively sweaty. A good rule of thumb – stick to an intensity where you are still able to hold a conversation.
- Exercises that place a significant load on the abdominal or pelvic floor muscles such as: frontal planks, sit ups, crunches, regular push ups, twisting movements such as Russian twists, exercises with both feet of the ground such as leg raises and heavy weighted squats. These exercises increase your chances of developing postnatal complication such abdominal separation or pelvic prolapse.
- Supine exercises (lying flat on your back) after 16 weeks as the weight of baby can put pressure on your vena cava and restrict blood flow.
- Holding your breath during any exercises, as this could deprive the baby of oxygen. It also puts excessive strain on your core and pelvic floor muscles.
- Contact activities such as boxing that could result in a blow to the abdomen.
Things to INCLUDE when exercising during pregnancy:
- Modifications to exercises as your pregnancy progresses
- Pelvic floor, core and postural muscle strengthening
- Labour preparation
- Plenty of fluids whilst working out
- Flexibility training to comfortable range of motion
If you were exercising prior to falling pregnant you can generally continue what you were doing pre-pregnancy, whilst taking the above guidelines into consideration. If you weren’t active prior to conceiving you can make a start, you just have to start off at a gentle pace and work your way up from there. A good guide would be starting with 20-30 mins of moderate cardio 3 times per week and 2-3 days of basic resistance training.
Be sure to get consent from your GP or OB before starting any form of physical activity. Stop exercising immediately and consult with your health care provider if you experience any of the following:
- Vaginal bleeding
- Rupture of membranes
- Chest pain or palpitations
- Excessive shortness of breath
- Dizziness, fainting or blackouts
- Severe headache
The main thing to remember is to listen to your body. Each woman and pregnancy is different, what works for one may not necessarily work for another.
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