Pregnancy – The do’s and dont’s of exercise

pregnancy resistance band training

Pregnancy, possibly the most exciting and daunting time of a woman’s life. There is so much information to take on board about things you should and shouldn’t be doing, it can become a little overwhelming. Team that with crazy hormones and an ever changing body and you can feel a little bit nervous about carrying on with exercise.

This blog is just going to outline a few tips to help you workout as safely as possible throughout pregnancy. As with everything, you should get the go ahead from your Doctor or midwife prior to exercising and always listen to you body throughout.

Should I exercise during pregnancy?

So lets start with whether you should exercise or not. For most people, pregnant or not, exercising and moving your body makes you feel better due to the release of endorphins etc. So as long as you are allowed to exercise, doing something is going to be great for you mentally as well as physically. Its important to remember that exercise can be as much or as little as you want it to be. From a gentle outdoors walk to a weighted workout in a gym, you are in control of what you do. So I highly recommend that you exercise.

Exercise is going to be brilliant for preparing your body for its biggest challenge yet, birth. You wouldn’t go off and run a marathon without training, so don’t head into childbirth without prepping your body. It is really important to keep strength in your glutes, lower back, upper back and keeping some cardio fitness to power you through that labour.

Post-birth, you are going to be tired, your body is going to need lots of recovery time and you now have a tiny human to care for. So preparing your body by keeping your strength up during pregnancy can only aid this more. With all the extra lifting, holding and pushing that parenting requires, you want to make that as easy on yourself as possible.

Thats all great, but how should you be exercising during pregnancy? The answer is however you can. Whether you are happy with gentle walks and maybe some pregnancy yoga, or your body is used lifting heavy weights, do what works for you. The key during pregnancy is to maintain your fitness, you aren’t looking to gain in fitness. If you were weightlifting before, you will be looking to perhaps adapt some moves but ultimately maintaining your strength in the basic movements pre-pregnancy. Exercises like squats, rows, bicep curls are all perfectly safe during pregnancy if conducted in the right way.

How to adapt exercise during pregnancy.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to listen to your body. You will know if something feels right or doesn’t. The main tips are:

  • To not lie on your back for too long once into your second trimester. It restricts blood flow and can make you feel faint. You can easily get around this by propping up slightly on a cushion or bench.
  • To not perform moves that encourage stomach doming. If you feel outward pressure or see bling within your stomach, you want to stop that move and regress it so you can control your stomach muscles. This helps to alleviate pressure through your abdominals and assist in preventing a wider diastasic.
  • Avoid moves that put your tummy at risk. Often as bump gets bigger you want to take moves out that risk knocking your stomach. Things like clean and press etc.
  • Avoid moves that you are not used to. If you weren’t doing headstands and CrossFit pre pregnancy, now is not the time to start.
  • Be more cautious of your balance. With a growing bump, your centre of gravity gets knocked out. Team that with relaxin making everything a bit looser around the joints, ad you can feel a bit more off balance.
  • Your heart rate will go up quicker during pregnancy, which is fine, but make sure you are taking slightly longer rest breaks to manage this. You will also sweat more due to hormones.
  • Further into pregnancy, you want to avoid putting too much strain on the pelvic floor. Lots of jumping and high impact moves like that may cause more damage than you realise at the time.
  • Focus on breathing techniques to assist you with the moves. Engage the core muscles and work on that pelvic floor.

These are just a few tips to follow during pregnancy. Obviously take lots of rest days, ensure you keep walking, keep hydrated during sessions and if in doubt, ask for professional help.

Training in pregnancy is meant to work with your body to set you up for carrying a growing baby, labour and beyond. Please always ensure that whoever is training you, whether as a personal training session or class instructor, is fully qualified in pre and post-natal training.

If you need any help, please feel free to contact me. It is always worth checking out the NHS website for their advice on exercise in pregnancy as well.

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