You’ve found out you’re pregnant, but you’re a bit of an exercise nut and are now Googling (other search engines available 😉) what you can and can’t do and it’s just bringing up a minefield of information and contradictory advice. Being pregnant can bring its challenges as it is without the worry about what your exercising might do to your growing peanut, so I’m going to lay out the bare essentials to help you make informed choices. Here’s your checklist:
Have you spoken with your healthcare professional about your desire to keep fit? How your pregnancy is going can indicate whether you need to take a step back or whether you’re ok to continue in a lower impact way. There’s no reason it shouldn’t be safe to exercise if your pregnancy is going well.
Are you doing one of these sports? Exercises such as gymnastics, horseriding and cycling need to be done with caution, because of the risk of falling. Your balance is affected during pregnancy so even expert sports people can be affected. Contact sports such racket sports and netball should also be avoided, so as not to be bumped/hit. Quick changes of direction can also cause issues
Are you thinking about your alignment? The hormone relaxin makes your joints (pelvis and knees especially) less stable and certain moves will put extra pressure on these areas, leading to discomfort. Exercises that can exacerbate this are running and breast stroke to name a couple. Running puts a lot of pressure through our pelvis so if you’re not used to doing this then don’t suddenly take it up. Breast stroke legs if done too much can put strain on the pelvis as you’re continuously moving the hips in opposite directions.
Can you hold a conversation and breathe properly while exercising? Tone it back a bit if not – now is not the time to do high intensity workouts. You shouldn’t be getting breathless as this can put strain on you and your baby’s’ blood flow
Are you doing crunches? Strengthening your core and back is essential, but crunches and bicycle leg type moves (anything where you’re flexing the torso causing the abs to bulge) aren’t the way forward and can lead to future abdominal issues. There are plenty of crunch-less alternatives. Happy to give you some ideas.
Are you incorporating pelvic floor strengthening into your exercise? It’s really important to engage your pelvic floor and contract the abdominals when doing a move. For example, with a squat you want to breathe out on the way up and at the same time pull up the pelvic floor and engage the abdominals. The synergy of breath, core and pelvic floor will help you with a multitude of things going forward!
Are you lying on your back too much? Lying on your back for long periods is not advised, particularly after your 1st trimester. A few glute bridges to strengthen your back, glutes and core are ok
Are you hydrated? Don’t forget your water – it’s really important to keep hydrated when exercising anyway, but more so when pregnant as our body temperature is higher.
Are you tired/ struggling to keep up? Stop and rest when you need to. Don’t feel you have to keep up with an exercise class or with a Youtube video. Listen to your body and stop when needed.
Are you holding a position for a long period? Don’t hold positions for long periods (anything over about 10 secs)
Hopefully that clears up a few concerns.
I also just want to say that your body is going through so many changes and what you can do easily in your first trimester may be next to impossible in your third (and potentially contraindicated), so overall the key is to be mindful of your body and be sure to modify as you go through the trimesters.
And, if you're picking an exercise class and not just doing at home, please make sure you pick an instructor with qualifications in prenatal exercise. Someone without this isn't insured if anything were to happen to you and they simply won't be able to advise you on the right modifications.
Overall, exercise is great for you and the development of your baby, and to ensure a healthy 9 months (and beyond!), so use this checklist to guide what you do.
If you need any advice, or you’d like to attend my BumpFit pregnancy class or do personal training, please drop me an email or call 07980 554324.