Top tips for exercise during pregnancy

The views around exercising during pregnancy have changed over the last few years. Gone are the days of bed rest and avoiding lifting. Now we see crossfitters still lifting and marathon runnners winning medals. However, there can still be some confusion over what you should and shouldn’t be doing during this time.

Here are few basic tips to get you going and hopefully keep you active all the way through.

1 If your body is used to it- carry on.  Always do spin class? Then your body is used to it and unless there is medical reason or you just don’t feel like it, carry on just taking it a bit easier as you move through the Trimesters. However, some sports should be avoided during pregnancy such as contact sports (think martial arts) and scuba diving.

2. Listen to your body. If it feels weird, awkward, painful or just not right, it probably isn’t. If you feel in need of a rest and as noise, go with that. Your body is amazing at telling you what it needs right now.

3. Hydrate. Your body is working extra hard to grow a being, make sure your drink enough.

4. Keep cool. All the extra blood and work on your lungs and heart means an increase in body temperature. So for that spin class, try and bag the bike under the air-con, wear breathable fabrics and make sure you have your water bottle handy.

5. You don’t have to work your core to work your core. Meaning after 12 weeks you should avoid targeted abdominal exercises such as sit ups, crunches, planks etc.   You can still keep your tummy strong and labour ready by doing exercises such as squats. Better yet, suspension training is great during pregnancy. Aqua classes can also be a great way of working your abs without the strain.

6. Avoid anything that makes you hold your breath. Your blood pressure will probably rise during pregnancy. Holding your breath will raise it even more. Not to mention, breath holding whilst exercise will increase pressure within the abdominal cavity and could lead to problems post natal.

7. Do your pelvic floor. Yes by all means practice your kebabs but you can work this amazing set of muscles during movements such as squats, side lunges, rows etc. Leaning to lift them on the exertion and fully relaxing will help to tone them but also lengthen them.

8. You don’t have to avoid running and balance work. See number 1. If you have no discomfort or pain and your midwife is happy with you to continue,  go ahead! You generally get more clumsy due to the postural changes in pregnancy. However, balance work helps to work your core muscles. Get around falling over by having a wall or chair handy to help you.

9. Stretch. You don’t need to avoid stretching all together.  Yes you do release the hormone relaxin, which softens the joins and soft tissues in preparation for labour. However, it doesn’t mean that a good stretch will make your joints lax and loose. Stretch to the point of discomfort never pain. Try holding the stretch for around 5-6 seconds, release and repeat 5-6 times.

10. If in doubt walk. Achy pain/hip, time, sickness and fatigue may mean hitting the gym just isn’t going to happen. So go for a walk. Its free, you can do anywhere and at any point, its low impact, there’s no stress on the joints, you don’t need special kit or clothes. Aim to raise your heart rate slightly, enough to get a little puffy and sweaty. Aim for 30 mins in a day. You get some fresh air (fresh ish if you’re a city dweller), exercise and head space, for free,

If you listen to your body, keep hydrated and fed and try not to push yourself to 100% effort, then exercise is great. It can help with your moods, provides down time, helps transport oxygen and nutrients to the baby via the placenta, helps circulation reducing the risk of various veins, obesity, swelling and mental health. On the flip side, if you fancy a lie down, go ahead you probably won’t get another chance for a while after the baby is born!

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