Before starting any exercise program, especially while pregnant, please consult your GP or Obstetrician, to ensure you are OK to exercise. If you are having a pretty straight forward pregnancy with no complications, you should be OK to do low impact/gentle exercise throughout your pregnancy, however please check with your specialist first.
My Number 1 tip when exercising while pregnant is to listen to your body. That is the most important thing to do. If you are feeling tired, exhausted, nauseous, light headed etc, don’t exercise. REST. If you feel any of these symptoms while exercising, slow down and stop.
It is OK to exercise while pregnant, even if you weren’t exercising before falling pregnant, as long as you have your Obs OK to exercise and you just need to take it slowly and listen to your body.
Make sure you:
- Wear comfortable clothing
- Wear a supportive bra, wear 2 or 3 if you need too
- Make sure you stay hydrated, drinking small sips of water often during the workout
- Don’t overheat your body, stay cool. It’s best not to exercise on hot days
- Can hold a conversation with someone throughout the workout, to ensure you aren’t pushing yourself too hard
Exercising while pregnant can offer loads of benefits, both physically and emotionally. They include:
- You will have more energy
- May help manage some symptoms of pregnancy
- Improved posture
- Weight control
- Stress relief
- Improved sleep
- Great preparation for the physical demands of labour
- Faster recuperation after labour
- Faster return to pre-pregnancy fitness and weight
- Increased ability to cope with the physical demands of motherhood
- Just getting some fresh air is also really beneficial
There are a few things that happen to your body during pregnancy which can affect how you exercise.
- When pregnant, the 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.
- When you are pregnant, 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). 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.
- 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.
There are a number of activities you can do while pregnant. They include:
- Pelvic Floors are SO important before, during and after pregnancy – so make sure you do them!
- Pregnancy friendly exercise classes – make sure the trainer is pre/post natal qualified.
- Pregnancy Yoga – make sure the trainer is pre/post natal qualified.
- Pregnancy Pilates – make sure the trainer is pre/post natal qualified.
- Water aerobics
- Stationery bike – outdoor bikes should be OK before 5 months – but that will depend on your balance
- Running – some pregnant women find running ok, especially if they did a lot of running before falling pregnant, this is the same with weight training. But 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 or get knocked in the tummy.
- 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
Exercise tips while in the first trimester:
Most women won’t know they are actually pregnant until they are 4-8weeks, so if this is the case, just keep doing what you have been doing! If you feel up to it!
If you are suffering from morning sickness, tiredness – all those fun things – listen to your body and rest if you need to.
If you feel OK, gentle exercise is fine, so go for it!
Exercise tips for second trimester:
By now you are hopefully feeling better if you suffered from morning sickness (or even all day sickness!), which also means you probably have a bit more energy, so if you feel up to exercising, go for it. Low impact, gentle exercise is fine, as long as you have the OK from your specialist. See above.
No more tummy exercises on your back and I would recommend no high impact – no jumping, tone down the running, switch to power walking instead!
Exercise tips for third trimester:
You are now on the home stretch! You have probably started to slow down, which is fine. 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.
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