Top exercising tips and advice for mums to be
Exercise might be the last thing crossing your mind if you’ve recently become pregnant. However, it’s a valuable practice with lots of benefits for mums-to-be.
Exercising while pregnant can have a really positive impact on your health. Throughout the pregnancy journey, regular exercise can help to keep you fit, improve your mood and manage your weight. It has been also shown to reduce the risk of blood pressure related conditions, among others, brought on by pregnancy. Avoid jumping right into a normal fitness routine though. Consult with your doctor first and research appropriate exercise plans.
REASONS TO EXERCISE DURING PREGNANCY
There is a long list of reasons to exercise during pregnancy. It has the potential to alleviate symptoms brought on by pregnancy and make you feel better in general. Naturally, it’s also good for the health of your baby!
Getting a little bit of exercise done while pregnant can help you to sleep better throughout this challenging but exciting time. It can also give you an energy boost when you’re needing it most. Countless studies have shown that exercise has an almost unmatched positive effect on your mood. With all of the hormonal changes during pregnancy, it’s a great idea to move a little in order to manage your stress levels and prevent any bout of anxiety or depression.
Pregnancy can be a real pain in the back!
Carrying around your little one for months before giving birth puts a lot more strain on your back. Gently working out can strengthen the muscles in your back, giving you a stronger foundation and reducing back pain. It will also help with posture – which can be negatively affected in pregnancy. This exercise will also help mums to manage their weight as their body changes.
Training for motherhood
One less talked about benefit of exercising during pregnancy is how it prepares you for what’s to come. It goes without saying that labour can be very physically challenging. You can give yourself a great chance of having a less difficult labour by trying your best to stay in shape in the lead up. It can also ensure that the delivery of your newborn is a little easier and that you bounce back more quickly after giving birth. Last, but certainly not least, putting in the work during pregnancy will make sure that you’re well able for the physical challenges that come with being a mother of a new baby.
EXERCISING WHILE PREGNANT – WHAT’S DIFFERENT?
Exercising while pregnant is unlike any other time. Your body will be going through so many changes and it’s vital to take these into account when considering a workout.
Changes in weight
A mother’s weight will naturally increase during pregnancy to accommodate their new baby. Due to the baby bump, the distribution of weight will be unlike other times, making thinking like balance and coordination more difficult.
Heart rate and blood pressure
Your resting heart rate will increase while pregnant so it’s best not to use heart rate as a marker during exercise. Professionals advise that you listen to your own body and work out to a level that suits you, without pushing too hard. During the second trimester your blood pressure will drop, so to avoid dizzy spells try not to change position too quickly during exercise.
Loosening of joints
When a woman is pregnant, their body loosens up which leaves them much more prone to spraining or twisting joints. So be wary of any movements that may lead to this and tread carefully!
EXERCISING WHILE PREGNANT – WHERE TO BEGIN
Before starting on your pregnancy exercise routine, make sure to speak with your doctor and any other relevant medical professionals that you’re in contact with. They will know your specific case and be in the right position to give you exercise advice suitable to you. These initial conversations are crucial as they can flag any potential issues that you may not be aware of and you will know how to proceed safely.
If you were not particularly active before becoming pregnant, ease yourself into it. A great place to start is with less intense exercises, including walking or gentle swimming. Once you get used to this level of exercise, gently increase the amount and intensity to keep challenging yourself but not straying too far from your comfort zone.
If you are someone who regularly exercised prior to pregnancy, feel free to exercise up to seven days a week for at least half an hour. Don’t overdo it though and don’t exercise too vigorously. Aim for a medium intensity that doesn’t tire you out too quickly but does make you work up a sweat.
In all cases, listen closely to your body. Keep your doctor updated regularly on your activity levels so that they can guide you to continue exercising in a safe and healthy manner. If at any stage, you become uncomfortable during exercise, get in touch with them right away.
GREAT EXERCISES FOR PREGNANT MUMS
If you’re wondering where to get started with exercise after becoming pregnant, there are plenty of great options.
Walking or jogging
A brisk walk or gentle jog will be sure to improve your fitness, while getting you out into the air. Take it slowly at first and allow your body to dictate the pace.
Swimming is a great option during pregnancy. It provides a workout for the whole body and yet is gentle due to the lack of impact. Plus, slipping into the pool can be very soothing!
Cycling is another great low-impact activity for mums-to-be. If you’re at all concerned about balance or falling, you can still get pedalling on a stationary bike. It’s a safer alternative and if you get too tired, you can stop at any time.
Yoga and pilates
Yoga and pilates are both brilliant ways to exercise, especially if you’re pregnant. Some poses may need to be adjusted but you can improve your strength and flexibility while also de-stressing.
There are lots of exercise classes that take place exclusively for expecting mothers. So check out your local gym to see what’s available and you might meet some other mums on their pregnancy journey.
ACTIVITIES TO AVOID DURING PREGNANCY
There are a few activities that should be avoided during pregnancy for both the health of the mother and the baby.
It’s necessary to avoid any sports that involve contact with other people or with objects. Examples of these include soccer, basketball and hockey. It’s also worth avoiding sports where you strike a ball with a bat or a racquet, like tennis. The force experienced by your body in these may be harmful to your pregnancy.
Lifting heavy weights can require that you engage your core quite a lot. It can also increase your heart rate quite dramatically during each repetition. While pregnant, it’s best these are given a miss. If you still want to lift weight, do so with lighter weights with a higher number of repetitions to keep the intensity down.
Lying on your back
Many exercises require you to lie on your back, especially during yoga. The weight of your baby can restrict your blood flow while in this position. Most poses will have an alternative that you can do that doesn’t involve lying flat on your back.
Balancing or anything that could result in a fall
Falling during pregnancy should be avoided at all costs and so should any activities that might cause this to happen. Examples include cycling outdoors (unless you’re very comfortable on a bicycle), jogging on uneven ground or hiking.
YOU CAN DO IT!
Exercise is a key component of staying healthy during pregnancy and getting you physically prepared for both labour and the challenges of being a mother. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t exercised regularly before, you can start while pregnant. At all stages, consult with your doctor for exercise information tailored to you and your needs.