When it comes to working out during pregnancy, many people have differing opinions. Many women are worried that physical activity during pregnancy can harm their babies, I am so pleased to tell you that this is not the case, especially if you have been given the all clear from your Doctor.
The NHS states that the more active and fit you are during pregnancy, the easier it will be for you to adapt to your changing shape and weight gain. It will also help you to cope with labour and get back into shape after the birth.
Keep up your normal daily physical activity or exercise (sport, running, yoga, dancing, or even walking to the shops and back) for as long as you feel comfortable.
Exercise is not dangerous for your baby – there is some evidence that active women are less likely to experience problems in later pregnancy and labour.
The developing babies of pre-natal exercisers have more efficient hearts than those of non-exercisers, and this higher cardio fitness level seems to last into the childhood years.
Pre-natal Fitness Do’s
Do listen to your body. Your body was designed to do incredible things like giving birth to another human! Firstly, a warm up prior to exercise is essential as it lowers the risk of causing an injury. Whilst exercising, make sure you listen to your body as it will tell you everything that you need to know. If you get dizzy, sit down. If something hurts, stop doing it. Your body knows its own limits better than anyone else so take it easy and do what feels right.
Do make sure you are hydrated and fuelled properly before a workout. At least 1 hour prior to your workout session, make sure you eat a good well-rounded meal as well as taking on board plenty of water. Too little food or water can result in an increase of fatigue and dizziness during workouts. An ideal pre-workout meal is a small bowl of Porridge Oats and fresh fruit.
Do aim for at least 30 minutes of cardio per day whether that be on a bike in the gym, Swimming at your nearest pool or a walk in your local park. Cardio is fantastic for the pregnant body! It not only strengthens your heart, but the baby’s cardiovascular system as well. Cardio is also a great way to control weight gain throughout pregnancy. Make sure your Doctor/Midwife has approved it!
Pre-natal Fitness Don’ts
Don’t perform any exercises while lying on your back for a lengthy amount of time after 12 weeks. Lying on your back can cause your uterus and growing baby to put major pressure onto the major vessel that returns blood to your heart. This reduces the blood flow to the placenta as well as to the rest of your body causing you to feel dizzy and potentially harming baby.
Doing moves such as crunches, sit ups, planks, and twisting movements can cause your abdominal muscles to split into two halves. This condition is known as Diastasis Recti and it is very hard to heal depending on the severity.
Don’t forget to stay hydrated! Hydration one of the most essential things to be aware of. By staying hydrated during your workout, your body is less likely to overheat itself. Overheating can be a danger to not only you, but your unborn baby-not to mention that we already know that dehydration can make you feel weak and dizzy. If you feel weak and dizzy, you are more prone to hurting yourself during your workout.
Which exercises / activities are recommended during pregnancy?
If your body is well-conditioned, you can do most activities that you were participating in prior to pregnancy, with your doctor’s approval. Exercises such as walking, swimming, jogging, and running are fantastic forms of cardio and should be done at least 3-5 days per week. Lifting weights is safe if you lift within your capabilities and don’t put excess strain onto your body. If your body is not used to heavy weight lifting, then pregnancy is not the time to start. Yoga is a great relaxing option for expectant mothers as it provides training which will improve and increase flexibility while decreasing pregnancy aches and pains. The breathing techniques with postures are adapted for pregnancy. Some notable moves to try are Mountain pose, Triangle pose, Goddess pose, Cat/Cow pose, and Child’s Pose.
Which exercises/activities should I stay clear of during pregnancy?
Any sudden, jerking motions are usually discouraged during pregnancy due to the hormone called Relaxin which really loosens up your body’s joints and ligaments to prepare itself for delivery. These jerky movements can put strain on your joints and ligaments and you might hurt yourself. Other moves to avoid are ones that challenge your balance or that could cause you to fall as well as contact sports. As mentioned above, no moves lying on your back are considered safe. Also, make sure that you stay away from working out in extreme temperatures.