Exercise is important during pregnancy! For the majority of women, exercise is not only safe but is also beneficial for many reasons.
- Helps with healthy pregnancy weight gain
- Reduces likelihood of complications such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and other pregnancy related health conditions
- Improves mental health and helps deal with anxiety and stress
- Encourages normal changes in the body to prepare you for labour
The general guidelines say, if you are not already active, you should start. It can be as simple as walking 10 mins a day and working your way up to the recommended 150 minutes a week. It is also recommended that some form of resistance training be incorporated. This can be a simple 10 minute at home circuit that includes gentle arm and leg exercises.
If you were previously active prior to pregnancy, KEEP GOING. I personally wanted to run all the way through my pregnancy. I love running! But that didn’t happen. At about 15 weeks, things got all too painful and I needed to listen to my body and stop. If you are already active, here are a few considerations you do need to make.
- No contact sports, such as soccer or touch football, after the first trimester. At this point your little bub is now out of the pelvis and at risk of knocks!
- Avoid activities that require lots of coordination or have a high risk. This is for two reasons; you want to protect bub from knocks and also all your joints are starting to loosen up so you are at higher risk of more serious sports injuries like torn ACL’s
- Listen to your body! If things are painful, cause cramping, lightheaded or dizziness or you experience bleeding, you need to stop, get checked out by the doctor or hospital.
If your body, like mine, hates your choice of exercise there are always alternatives!! For me, I stopped running, joined the gym and started on the elliptical. Eventually I ended up on the bike and finally walking and swimming was all I could manage. Be smart, ask for advice, and find fun ways to stay active!
What about Ab exercises? For most women, abdominal exercises are safe to do during pregnancy. However, it is recommended that you do not do a sit up or crunch movement as the increased pressure this creates in the abdomen pushes back into a major blood vessel which can cause major problems. This is the same reason why you shouldn’t exercise on your back past the first trimester as well as lift heavy weights. It is safe to do movements such as planks and side planks or Pilates style core exercises throughout your pregnancy. It is important to watch your belly as you do these exercises. If you start to notice doming or bulging in the center, you are developing Diastasis Recti which is a separation of the stomach muscles. At this point you should stop doing core exercises or seek advice from a health professional (such as a women’s health physiotherapist).
STAY ACTIVE MUMMA!