Are You Pregnant & Exercising? Here’s What You Need to Know

Pregnancy is not the time to kick start a brand new training program nor is it the time to start one if you have been sedentary for a while.  Pregnancy is a time to look after yourself, nourish your baby whilst nurturing each phase of growth and adjusting to the developments that come with it.  Now is not the time to be sweating it out in a spin class, pounding out miles on the treadmill or lifting excessively high weights in the gym. 

I exercised for most of my pregnancy yet adapted my normal routine extensively and shifted focus to kinder, gentler exercise styles and I would highly recommend this for any woman whilst she is carrying her bump.

Exercising whilst pregnant has a number of benefits including a healthier easier pregnancy, reduced aches and pains as well as positive mental endorphin release.  Walking, swimming, gentle stretches, pregnancy yoga and meditation are the best options. 

If you are exercising regularly, here is what you need to know to ensure safety first for your bump and you.

  1. Wear a heart rate monitor and avoid raising your own heart rate above 140 beats per minute.  When you are at rest and not exerting yourself your bump’s heart rate sits about 120-160 bpm and as you exercise, both your heart rate and body temperature rise.  This has a direct impact on the comfort of your baby with their heart rate and body temperature also being affected.
  2. Your body is flooded with hormones during pregnancy, one in particular is Relaxin which is released to ‘relax’ the pelvic ligaments to allow for labour.  However it also affects all joints in the body so it is important to not over stretch, even though you feel more flexible, make sure you don’t push too hard into a stretch
  3. Avoid any sort of abdominal crunch move, especially after 8 weeks.  Your abdominals are trying to stretch lengthways and width ways during pregnancy to allow for growth of the baby so switch to static holds instead.  For example being on all fours and sucking your belly in is a good option in the early stages of pregnancy
  4. Do your pelvic floor exercises– suck it up and suck it in!  Make this a daily habit to prevent issues post birth
  5. As you get bigger your centre of gravity will shift and you may find yourself becoming unbalanced so ensure you perform exercises supported on a chair and with both feet on the ground
  6. Avoid laying down on back after around the 17 week mark as this could interfere with the flow of blood and nutrients to the placenta of the developing baby as well as cause dizziness for mum
  7. Avoid high impact exercise as this puts undue pressure on the pelvic floor area which is already becoming stretched as the pelvis widens to prepare for labour
  8. Always ensure you can maintain a conversation whilst exercising and limit exercise sessions to 30 minutes max, stay hydrated, wear loose comfortable clothing and have fun!  Never push yourself to do something if you are having a tired day, it’s just a sign your baby is growing again.

As always, do ensure you have your midwife or GP’s approval to exercise and follow any advice you have been given specific to you by a professional