That’s usually what drives us to the gym and keeps us moving but take a step back for one moment. Because fitter, stronger and healthier mom’s stack the odds in their favor when it comes to shorter and easier births. Not to mention getting back pre-pregnancy figures, looking good and feeling attractive.
Not to mention the fact that a healthy mom-to-be has reduced risk of high book pressure, stress, incontinence and crap.
Now of course you should always consult with your doctor first and if you really are only a matter of days or weeks a way… be careful but the information I’m about to share you could well help you can back to your pre-pregnant self FAST!
If you’ve been exercising regularly during and up until you got pregnant, there’s a very good chance you can simply do what you’ve always done and carry on with your routines (unless of course the exercises are particularly high risk or over-extend your joints).
This is especially true of exercises that put stress on your joints since during pregnancy you’re body released a hormone called “relaxin” to soften ligaments, loosen joints and prepared your body for birth. It’s always a good idea to stretch during your workouts, even more so when you’re pregnant.
Even if you don’t usually exercise this is still a great time to start and baby will definitely thank you for it.
My 7 Top Tips for Exercising While Pregnant
- Eat a regular, well balanced diet and always keep hydrated. This is especially true on days you exercise. Most of us never drink enough water anyway so make sure to drink extra on the days you work up a sweat. Warm up for longer than normal to raise your body temperature up and cool down up to prevent sudden changes in blood pressure. Lots of people (guys especially) are guilty of overtraining and pushing too hard. I blame testosterone in men, you on the other hand, don’t have an excuse. Don’t over-train.
- Use exercise ball. Exercise or fit balls are a great way to keep you fit and strong during pregnancy. By forcing you to stabilize your body while training you’ll work more of your body with less time and build up good core strength and stability. It’s believe they’ can also help to get baby in the correct position for birth. For this reason, author Mark Hibbetts also refers to them as birth-balls. A baby in the correct position can sometimes reduce labor times dramatically.
- Use the ‘test talk’ to measure intensity. As a general rule of thumb if you can talk and run (for example) at the same time you’re working out in the aerobic zone. A zone typically associated with optimum fat burning. If you struggle to talk while exercising the intensity is at a much greater level. I use this method to see what training zone I’m in while running (yes, I talk to myself while running). It means you need zero expensive equipment and (unknown to many) the physiological changes of pregnancy make heart rate monitors ineffective.
- If you use weights, during the early days of pregnancy continue as normal, but be extra dilligent. As you get bigger consider using machines instead of free weights for greater stability and normal range of movement. Whilst free weights are the best for your body it’s a case of risk versus reward in pregnancy. Avoid lifting weights overhead and lying on your back, especially after the first trimester.
- Always emphasize good form and posture. And be careful with high-risk sports or activities such as horse riding, skiing or anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. Some people don’t recommend cycling. Listen to your gut. If something feels like it’s a risk, don’t do it. I like to call it woman’s intuition. We’re born with it, guys, well let them do the stupid things.
- Earlier I mentioned how relaxin hormone in your body loosens the joints. This is obviously to prepared you body for childbirth. In gyms abductor/adductor machines can put too much pressure on the pelvic joints. It’s a good idea to avoid them, and if you do feel pain or discomfort stop exercising immediately. Again listen to your body and make the distinction between muscular fatigue and discomfort due to changes in your body.
- Wear a good sports bra. Hopefully you do this anyway but I’ll never forget the girls in dance classes who bounced all over the place. It looked painful to the eye and isn’t how to look after your body. A good sports bra is a worthwhile investment, even if it doesn’t look good!
Finally, pelvic floor exercises are important during pregnancy. Again, speak to your doctor or midwife for suggestions. A strong pelvic floor will help prevent embarrassing accidents when coughing or sneezing and can also help you to push during labor.
You can safely perform pelvic floor exercises several times per day throughout your pregnancy. They only take minutes at a time so you can slot them in around your everyday activities. Personally I like to have mini-workouts, usually I have one first thing in the morning for my stomach and other ‘parts’.
This article was prompted and researched by the founder of Newborn Fitness and member of The Guild of Pregnancy and Postnatal Exercise Teachers – Mark Hibbitts. He’s also the co-author of The Essential Exercise and Birthball Handbook for Pregnancy and Beyond available online HERE.