By Dahlas Fletcher
Pregnancy Exercise Specialist bodyfabulous.com.au
It is very confusing to know what exercises you can and can’t do during pregnancy. Here are 10 top tips so you can get moving and motivated during this precious time and ensure you are exercising safely and effectively.
1) You are in maintenance mode. Pregnancy is NOT the time to try to lose weight or begin an intensive exercise routine. Instead begin with the mindset that you want to exercise safely to improve the health and well being of you and your baby. If you are not in any high- risk pregnancy categories and have clearance from your medical practitioner, you can commence a fitness regimen at a mild to moderate level. I recommend you seek the guidance of a certified pregnancy trainer to ensure you receive a safe and effective program.
2) Listen to your body. Gone are the days where you need to monitor your heart rate during exercise. A simple rule of thumb is ensuring you can hold a conversation whilst exercising and at all times you listen to your body – if it doesn’t feel right don’t do it!
3) Start slowly. Beginners should start by exercising 10 minutes at a time and slowly build up to 30 a minutes a day for 3 – 5 days per week. Don’t go for the burn and don’t exercise to exhaustion. Yes you will feel out of breath! This doesn’t mean your are terribly unfit, during pregnancy your blood volume increases, so your heart has to work a bit harder to distribute oxygen to your and your baby, which increases breathlessness.
4) Nourish yourself be careful to eat properly and get enough fluids. Being pregnant means you need approximately 300 extra calories a day, depending on your pre-pregnancy weight. Go for the J.E.R.F way of eating – “just eat real food”. That means wholesome, unprocessed nourishing food. And always try to eat within 30 mins after exercise to keep your blood sugar stable and avoid nauseousness.
5) Stay Cool. Wear a sun hat and layers of loose, comfortable clothing when working out in hot, humid weather. Keep bottles of water handy to replenish lost fluids- try to take small sips of water rather than guzzling it to avoid cramps. Plus if you’re exercising outside, be sure to wear sunblock since pregnancy can make your skin more sun-sensitive.
6) What exercise? Here are my 5 recommendations for the best types exercise during pregnancy.
• Resistance Training: Obtain a safe exercise program from a certified pregnancy trainer that includes variety movements including resistance training, functional movements, and safe cardio. Lifting weights during pregnancy is safe and is also important – find out here why!
• Preggi Bellies : this are Australia’s leading pregnancy exercise classes developed by pregnancy physiotherapists. These classes are a fantastic way to get a safe total body workout throughout your whole pregnancy that will make you fit and strong for labour & recovery. Plus you will have fun meet other Mums. Find out more here.
• Swimming: This is a great form of exercise because it uses your whole body and puts little strain on your joints. An added bonus: The water supports your weight, giving you a temporary reprieve from feeling ungainly as your belly gets bigger.
• Prenatal yoga and stretching: Both ease tension and help keep you flexible and strong.
• Pelvic Floor / Core exercises : The essential muscle you must give daily attention during pregnancy is your Pelvic Floor. Consult a certified trainer or join a certified pregnancy fitness class or Pilate’s class so you can learn the importance of your pelvic floor and discover specialised core and pelvic floor exercises that strengthen and reduce the impact on your pelvic floor – during and after pregnancy.
7) Activities to Avoid – It is common sense during pregnancy to avoid high-risk sports, such as scuba diving, and activities with a potential for hard falls, such as horseback riding, downhill skiing, snowboarding, and water-skiing.
8) Other forms of exercise, such as bike riding, and walking should be pursued more cautiously or postponed until after the baby’s born. Reason being is that these exercises can trigger pelvic instability during pregnancy, This condition can become very uncomfortable for the mum-to-be. If you are going to walk – ensure you wear sensible shoes, have correct posture and keep walking at a slower pace with a maximum of 20 mins, no more than 3 times a week. Pregnancy also isn’t the time to start running, although it can be ok if you jogged regularly before getting pregnant. You will however need to modify your routine – listen to your body and talk to your healthcare provider or certified trainer. Sit ups should also be avoided during pregnancy – make sure you consult a certified trainer to find out about safe and effective core exercises during pregnancy.
9) Trust your body. Above all listen to your body, trust your body and stay within a zone that is safe for you and your baby. Your motherly instincts start now so believe in them.. And if you have any of the following symptoms while you’re exercising, stop immediately and contact your healthcare provider if the symptoms don’t quickly resolve:
• dizziness or feeling faint
• sharp pain
• chest pain
• calf pain or swelling
• vaginal bleeding
• contractions (preterm labour)
• fluid leaking from your vagina
• decreased foetal movement
• rapid heartbeat while at rest
10) Have fun – choose an exercise routine that you enjoy and look forward too as this means you are more likely to pursue it consistently and reap all the benefits of exercising during pregnancy.