Experts agree that keeping active during pregnancy is important for both mum and baby. It can minimise pregnancy weight gain, give you an energy and mood boost, and can even make labour and delivery easier.
During the first trimester when morning sickness and fatigue often take over, it may feel like the last thing you want to do, but exercise may be exactly what you need to feel better. Always check with your obstetrician first and when they give the okay, ask them any questions you have about what you should/shouldn’t do.
If you’ve already got a stable workout regime, you can probably pretty much stick to it as long as you doing overdo things. It can be dangerous to start a new exercise regime if you’ve been inactive prior to falling pregnant, so consult a professional first if you are thinking about taking on new activities.
Obviously, doing high-intensity workouts, training for too long and trying to lose weight are not good things to be doing during this time. However, low-impact and light cardio exercise is ideal to keep you healthier and happier throughout your pregnancy.
Some key things to remember for exercise during pregnancy
Baby can’t regulate his or her own temperature so it’s important to remain cool throughout your training session. If you feel like you’re starting to heat up too much, have a rest to bring your heart rate down, try to find a cool fan and take a drink of cold water.
This brings us to hydration – make sure you drink plenty of water before, during and after your workout, if you’re thirsty you’re already likely to be dehydrated.
One other thing to remember is that pregnancy does some amazing things to your body, and one of these is that your joints loosen to allow for a more comfortable delivery. This means you need to take care with certain activities that may place stress on your joints as the last thing you want to be doing is dealing with an injury.
Running and walking
If you’re already a runner and provided your medical professional has given the thumbs up, running should still be okay at least for your first trimester. You do need to bear in mind that, as we previously covered, overheating can cause problems with your baby (especially during the formative first few months) so if you find your temperature going up too much, slow down. Now is definitely not the time to be training for a marathon!
If you haven’t run before, it’s a good idea to take it down a notch and stick to walking which is low-impact but still a great form of exercise.
This low-impact activity is fantastic for pregnant women – normal pool water has a cooling effect, plus the weightlessness can provide temporary relief against stress/pressure in your joints from any additional weight; especially in your third trimester.
If you’re not confident doing ‘regular’ swimming, take up water walking. It’s not just for the oldies and if you drag a friend along it’s a great opportunity to catch up at the same time! Just make sure you skip the sauna and the hot tub as you don’t want to overheat.
Yoga, pilates and weights
Certain yoga poses, pilates and weights exercises are not so great for expectant mums, so if you’re going to classes, turn up a little early and have a word with the instructor. Introduce yourself if you haven’t already, ask them if there are any exercises you should avoid and what you could substitute instead to make sure you’re remaining active throughout the session.
This is particularly important when it comes to anything that places strain on your abdomen such as flat on your back crunches which are a no-go. For that matter, anything in the supine (lying on your back) or prone (lying on your front) positions after your first trimester should be avoided.
Gentle work on core strength and improving your pelvic floor muscles, however, can be very useful! Light weight training is generally okay. Also, your centre of gravity changes during pregnancy as your baby adds weight to the front of your body, so balance exercises are good to limit your risk of slips and falls. See an exercise professional who specialises in prenatal training if you would like a specific programme.
Remember to go at your own pace and if it doesn’t feel right, it’s a sign to stop.
Photo / Flickr.com – Lululemon Athletica