Your body goes through many changes when you become pregnant and it’s important you change your mindset to go with it. Washboard abs won’t be on the dream board for a few months but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep fit during pregnancy. Here’s everything you should know about exercising while pregnant.
Do what feels right for you
Some women can’t bear the thought of skipping 9 months of workouts while others relish in the idea of low-intensity fitness all year round. It’s totally up to you what sort of exercise program to maintain and it doesn’t have to stay the same throughout your pregnancy. Alicia Fistonich is a pre- and post-natal trainer, from Move The Weight, who decided lifting weights during both pregnancies was right for her. She says your exercise regime should ebb and flow to suit your energy levels throughout your pregnancy:
“Exercising while pregnant is a personal choice and does depend on the overall health of your pregnancy. If you have a low risk pregnancy and were exercising and lifting weights before becoming pregnant it is still pretty much business as usual!
The main things to avoid are:
- Lying on your back for exercises like bench press after about 20 weeks
- Any explosive movements like box jumps, skipping, sprinting and sudden turns are best to be avoided due to how elastic all your ligaments become
- Making sure you stay well hydrated and don't overheat
The previous recommendations for maintaining your heart rate in a certain range have now been removed and it is more based on how you are feeling. I still squatted and deadlifted for both pregnancies up to 38 weeks and only stopped because of Pelvic Girdle pain, I was still doing prowler sprints at 28 weeks!”
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Recovery is twice as important now
Rest and relaxation are an essential part of any fitness program but they’re extra necessary when your body’s resources are being used to grow a baby. Getting a great night’s sleep after exercise is all it takes to support your muscles in their recovery stages. Make sure you’re getting the best support and comfort with a new mattress from MyDeal. Or take the time each day to kick your feet up and decompress on your cushioned sofa.
Low-intensity workouts are safest
Pre- and post-natal exercise specialist, Jody Secker, from MumaBubs has written a great blog about her own journey and includes practical advice to keep you fit while pregnant. One of our favourite tips is below:
“Low impact, low intensity exercise will assist in protecting your joints and pelvic ligaments, which are more vulnerable during pregnancy due to pregnancy hormones, altered posture and weight gain.
It is crucial that you do not place too much strain on your back, pelvis or pelvic floor during pregnancy, therefore low impact activities, such as walking, swimming or aqua classes, low impact exercise sessions or pregnancy specific exercise sessions are recommended.
The recommended intensity of an exercise session will be different for each expectant mum as every pregnancy and every woman is different. However, I recommend the intensity of your exercise sessions during pregnancy should result in you feeling energised, strong and invigorated, and not exhausted or sore.”
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Walking is an ideal exercise for pregnant mums with young kids. It’s an opportunity to save time and combine social activities with exercise by inviting other mums or friends along. Plus you can easily fit in a casual stroll with your other children in tow and the fresh air will benefit both of you. All you need is an adjustable stroller that keeps them safely seated or napping while you get your heart rate pumping.
Get your OM on
Yoga addicts are in luck - it’s one of the best exercises suited to pregnant women. However, your may need to branch out from your regular class for a while. Prenatal yoga teacher Stacey Astley-Clark from Buddha Babies provides pregnancy yoga classes to women in Sydney. She’s also a hypnobirthing practitioner and offers courses to help you achieve a calm, smooth labour and birth. She shared with us a typical yoga class:
“Prenatal yoga is the perfect activity for pregnant women as it not only builds strength and flexibility, it is also the perfect way to prepare for labour and even start to bond with your baby.
A typical prenatal yoga class comprises:
- Relaxation breathing to switch off sympathetic nervous system and connect with baby
- Cat cow for back ache
- 'Happy Hips' (forearms and knees and sway) to help get baby into optimal position (and great for turning posterior baby in labour)
- Modified sun salutes
- Hip circles and 'dancing' with baby
- Tree pose
- Squat and ujjayi breath to practise for contractions
- Side lying hip opener (leg kicks out and up)
- Legs up the wall (with bottom on a bolster) to help with swelling”
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It’s less about selfies, more about support
If you’re aiming to keep fit to shed the baby weight faster or social share your whole pregnancy then you’ve developed the wrong perspective. Exercise is about health and supporting your body - looking good is just a side effect. Make sure your goals are healthy and realistic such as building up a strong pelvic floor and maintaining great back support for the later stages of your pregnancy. And remind yourself often that continuing to exercise while pregnant is going to give you a headstart on bringing your body back to normal post-birth.
A fit mum is a happy mum so get out the trainers and find a light workout program you can stick to. Always consult a medical professional and/or accredited health instructor before beginning new exercise programs or to find out what is the best routine for you.