Being pregnant doesn’t mean you have to stop enjoying regular exercise. In fact, pregnancy exercise has now become far more popular and it has plenty of benefits. By staying fit during your pregnancy you help improve your energy levels and mood, prevent backache, improve your core and lumbo-pelvic strength, help prepare you for labour and make it easier to get back into shape once the baby is born.
BUT there are some things you must be careful of as your body goes through such big changes. Here are some top tips:
1. Get the green light from your doctor
Make sure you check with your doctor before exercising during pregnancy. If you are experiencing any complications you may need to avoid exercise so if in doubt, ask the doc.
This is essential before any exercise as it prepares your muscles to prevent injury and decreases post workout aches and pains.
3. Be consistent.
Shorter, more regular workouts are better than longer sessions that are less frequent.
4. Keep an eye on your body temperature.
In the first trimester especially, it’s very important not to over-heat. So make sure you drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise, and avoid over-exerting yourself. Most of our clubs have air conditioning so make the most of it and position yourself in a nice cool spot. Wear loose fitting clothing that doesn’t soak up sweat, and wear layers that you can remove easily as you get warmer.
5. Stay hydrated.
Drink water before, during and after exercise. Sipping slowly but regularly will help to avoid heartburn.
6. Make sure you’ve eaten enough.
Avoid low blood sugar and fainting by making sure you’ve eaten enough before you begin. Carry a snack in your gym bag in just in case – this needs to have some protein – cashew or brazil nuts with a banana or apple is always a good option.
7. Get support.
Wear trainers that give you good support and cushioning and be sure to wear a sports bra. Sweaty Betty have some good bras and a range of supports.
8. Find a specific Antenatal Exercise Class with antenatal qualified instructors
Tell your class instructor about your pregnancy before you start and they will be able to offer you advice or lower impact options.
9. What to do if you have gestational diabetes.
If you have gestational diabetes you need to take particular precautions with exercise: monitor blood glucose levels, regulate meal times, incorporate rest periods and monitor baby movements and uterine contractions.
10. Tune into your body.
If you start to feel unusual – headaches, dizziness, shortness of breath – stop the exercise. And if you can’t hold a conversation while you’re exercising, you’re working too hard.
11. It’s all about maintaining rather than improving fitness.
Your goal should be trying to keep fit and healthy while pregnant. One good way to monitor your intensity is to score it from 1-10 – one being lying on the sofa, 10 being maximum exertion – and then make sure you stay between 6-7.
12. Be aware of the warning signs.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynacologist (RCOG) (Link to: http://www.rcog.org.uk/womens-health/clinical-guidance/exercise-pregnancy) advises you to stop exercising and seek medical advice if you experience any of the following:
• Excessive shortness of breath
• Chest pain or palpitations
• Painful uterine contractions or preterm labour
• Leakage of amniotic fluid
• Vaginal Bleeding
• Excessive Fatigue
• Abdominal pain, particularly in back of pubic area.
• Pelvic girdle pain
• Reduced foetal movement
• Dyspnoea before exertion
• Mucle Weakness
• Calf pain or swelling
And, of course, make sure it’s fun. If it’s not fun, you won’t stay motivated to be consistent.
Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynacologists guidelines on exercise during pregnancy (LINK TO: http://www.rcog.org.uk/womens-health/clinical-guidance/recreational-exercise-and-pregnancy)
This content aims to give general fitness advice and tips to expectant mothers experiencing a normal pregnancy. This should not be treated as a substitute for or supersede any medical advice you have been given.