Exercise has many benefits – including during pregnancy. Research continues to prove there are many health benefits for both mum and baby. Exercise protocols change during this period, and it’s important to understand some of the do and do not’s as pregnancy exercise is a specialist area.
Exercise has many benefits through all stages of life – including during pregnancy. Research continues to prove there are many health benefits for both mum and baby. However, exercise protocols do change during this period, and its important to understand some of the do and do not’s which many general trainers may be unaware of as pregnancy exercise is a specialist area requiring additional study.
So, what do you have to adapt to stay safe and healthy as your baby grows and your body changes?
As a caveat, while these sort of internet lists are fun – they aren’t a replacement for informed care. Specifically; educated trainers, physios, doctors and midwives should all form part of your pregnancy team. It takes a village to raise a child and this starts right at the beginning of the pregnancy journey.
As a Midwife and a Certified Pregnancy Trainer, this is what I recommend as your Exercise Do and Do not’s in Pregnancy:
HERE ARE THE DOs
Movement has so many benefits for your heart, muscles and mind – all of which you will be sharing with your growing baby.
- Do exercise to the weakest link and listen to your body.
What that weakest link is, will change every day during pregnancy. Some days your knees might be the weakest link, the next day sciatica or breathlessness. For many, its pelvic floor control. If your form is suffering or you’re experiencing pain, it’s time to adapt and potentially regress the movement / workout. A qualified Pregnancy trainer can help you with all the modifications you require to remain active.
- Do see a Women’s Heath Physio.
Your pelvic floor and transverse abdominus are about to become incredibly important and they are not visible externally. This means many women have never learned how to correctly contract and release these muscles. A Women’s Health Physio can provide the information on whether you’re moving correctly and help make the link between brain and the physical movement. I recommend seeing someone prior to pregnancy and/or in your 2ndtrimester.
- Do focus on maintaining strength.
Pregnancy is not the time to reach new PBs and grow your muscles. You’re growing a baby which is more than enough. Time will come again to make gains, but for a short time, give yourself space to just be. Focus on stability and general strength training to help your body minimise aches and pains and to assist with your birth and recovery.
- Do add pelvic floor and safe core exercises.
We’ve mentioned it before, and we’ll mention it again. Your pelvic floor and core are doing the brunt of the muscle work during pregnancy, constantly holding your baby up and in. A functional pelvic floor will help you labour, maintain continence and have great sex, while your core will minimise back pain and abdominal separation and control the mum tum which is what many desire postnatally. Again a certified trainer can provide all these safe exercises.
While some muscles need to strengthen, functional muscles also need to relax. Your weight distribution and body movements will change during pregnancy and place stress on various muscle groups. Be kind to yourself and stretch out, roll out with a foam roller or acupressure ball, or enjoy a pregnancy friendly massage.
Receive the RIGHT advice on your exercises and education with a team of qualified health experts at your fingertips.
HERE ARE THE DON’T’s
Your body is changing. It’s different. But different doesn’t mean bad. Find support. Educate yourself. Knowledge is a great way to fight off fear.
- Don’t ignore your pregnancy.
Your body is different and going through massive changes. Recognising that and making some minor adjustments will make a world of difference. Crunches, jumping, hopping, skipping etc can wait till you’re not pregnant again, and fully recovered. Right now, there are other safer options.
- Don’t use your heart rate to set your effort.
When pregnant your blood volume will increase and so will your heart rate in order to transport that blood around your body. A safer metric to use to measure your exertion during this time is your ability to hold a conversation. If you are breathless slow down, its OK to do less.
- Don’t Skimp on a good fitting bra.
If you didn’t notice, your breasts are not the same during pregnancy. Invest in some comfy sports bras and ditch the underwire.
- Don’t exercise on your back from approx. 16-20 weeks
Exercising on your back after 20 weeks is not recommended as you can become breathless, feel faint and even pass out. Focus on standing, sitting lying on your side and all fours.
- Don’t relate your self-worth to your appearance.
You are more than what you look like. You are not lesser if you have a big bump, little bump, mum tum or a 6 pack. You are more than what you look like. When you start teaching values to your newborn, will you be teaching them that they are intrinsically valuable, no matter your size? Instagram can be a brilliant communication tool but beware the comparison and watch for reliable content. Some (re mum safe sites) provide brilliant inspiration, but others are down right dangerous.
You’re gorgeous. You’re unique. You’re worth it. Train for you.