Exercise is fantastic during pregnancy for multiple reasons. If you’re fit and active throughout your pregnancy, then it’ll be easier for you to acclimatize as your shape changes and body naturally gains weight. Exercise can also aid you in coping with labour and getting back into shape after the birth.
The key to pre-natal exercise is to maintain whatever routine you were doing before the pregnancy, for as long as you feel comfortable. So stick with your normal daily exercises or physical activities, such as running, yoga, sports, dancing, or walking the dog. Exercise isn’t dangerous for you or your baby. In fact, there’s actually some evidence which suggests that there’s a lower likelihood for active women to experience problems during later pregnancy and labor.
There are certain exercises that are especially beneficial during pregnancy. They can help to strengthen your muscles which will help you to carry the extra weight of your growing baby. They will also improve circulation, strengthen your joints, and ease backache too. Here are three exercises that you can add into your workout routine if you’re pregnant…
#1 – Pelvic tilt exercises
Pelvic tilt exercises can help to strengthen your core and ease lower back pain. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, with your shoulders and glutes pressed against a wall. Keep your knees soft and head up. Pull your stomach in towards your spine, slowly flattening your back against the wall. Hold this position for 4 seconds and then release. Repeat this up to 10 times.
#2 – Stomach-strengthening exercises
Stomach strengthening exercises can also ease back ache too. As your baby grows, you may find that the additional weight causes your back to curve more than usual. This additional strain can sometimes cause aches, so strengthening the stomach will offset some of this in advance.
Kneel down on all fours, so that your k
nees are aligned under your hips and hands are directly under your shoulders. Lift your abs so that your back is straight and then pull your stomach muscles in, slowly raising your back up towards the ceiling. Curl the trunk and allow you head to gently relax forward. Hold this position for several seconds and then return to a neutral spine. Repeat this movement 10 times, only moving as far as you feel comfortable.
#3 – Pelvic floor exercises (aka Kegels)
The muscles of the pelvic floor are put under particular strain during pregnancy, so it’s worth adding in some exercises that strengthen them from the very start. The first step is to identify the right pelvic floor muscles. An easy way to do this is to imagine that you need to stop urination midstream. The muscles you’d tense are your pelvic floor muscles. To do a Kegel, simply contract and hold these muscles for 5 seconds then release for 5 seconds. Repeat this 10 times and perform 3 sets each day.
Which exercises to avoid during pregnancy
Although exercise is beneficial during pregnancy, there are some specific movements that it’s best to avoid. Don’t lie flat on your back for extended periods of time, especially after 16 weeks. The weight of your bump can press on one of the main blood vessels to your heart which may make you feel faint.
You should also avoid contact sports where there’s a chance that you might be hit. Activities like judo, kickboxing, or football would all fall into this category. Exercises that include a risk of falling should be approached with caution too, as falls may risk damage to the baby. These include activities like gymnastics, ice hockey, downhill skiing, horse riding, and cycling.
Foetuses can be especially sensitive to changes in pressure so pay special attention to the altitudes that you exercise at. Avoid exercising at heights that are 8000 feet above sea level until you’ve properly acclimatized to the altitude and don’t go scuba diving at all.
Tips for a Fitter Pregnancy
The most important tip is not to exhaust yourself. Even if you were super-fit before your pregnancy, you may need to slow things down over time. If you’re ever in doubt, consult a medical professional.
In terms of exercise intensity, you should be able to hold a conversation whilst exercising. If you become breathless whilst talking, then you’re probably working out a bit too strenuously and need to take things down a notch. Exercise can still be beneficial even if it’s not strenuous.
The general tips for a healthy workout are even more important when pregnant. So remember to warm up and cool down either side of your workout. Drink plenty of fluids and avoid exercising too much if it’s a hot day. Aim to stay active daily, whether it’s walking, swimming, yoga, or something else.
If you weren’t especially active before getting pregnant, then it’s not a good idea to start exercising strenuously. If you do want to start exercising, then begin with 15 minutes and gradually build up from there.
If you decide to attend an exercise class, then it’s really important to ensure that your instructor is properly qualified. Inform them that you’re pregnant and tell them how many weeks into pregnancy you are. Our team are professionally certified in all aspects of training and can advise you on the best approach for your fitness levels and end goals. If you have any questions at all, then don’t hesitate to get in touch.