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Exercise During Pregnancy

Gone are the days when we are told to sit back with your feet up for the whole of pregnancy. In fact, quite the opposite!

Exercise in pregnancy can have many benefits for both you and your baby and even a simple walk or stretch session can really help you to stay fit and well.

Exercise can reduce the risk of pregnancy complications, such as gestational diabetes and can also lower the odds of delivery complications too! Recovery afterwards can also be improved too with regular exercise throughout all trimesters.

The usual benefits including improved mood, reduced stress and anxiety, lowered blood pressure, improved sleep and less fatigue can be felt too which, trust me, are all factors you want less of during pregnancy!

Exercise also reduces the chance of developing lower back or pelvic pain, particularly later in pregnancy and can help with constipation too, which is I’m afraid something that most pregnant ladies will experience at some point!

Whether you have always exercised are completely new to it, aiming for 150 minutes per week of activity during pregnancy is beneficial. This can be completely adapted to suit your lifestyle, your needs and always remember to make sure what you are doing is enjoyable. It doesn’t need to be an intense gym workout; just something to increase the heart rate and get the muscles engaged.

With lots of mixed information out there, I wanted to share the below to help Mums to be know what they should and shouldn’t do; what is safe and what is not.

Throughout

  • Listen to your body! Remember that your energy is now focussed on safely growing a human.
  • Lower the intensity, slow down, drop the weights and don’t go trying for a PR!
  • Avoid extreme and contact sports and anything that could lead to falls.
  • Warm up and cool down properly, don’t allow yourself to overheat, don’t overdo it and stay well hydrated before, during and after exercise.
  • Aim for moderate intensity; think still able to hold conversation during your workout!
  • Never forget your pelvic floor/kegel exercises. Apps such as @squeezyapp will help keep you right!
  • Do what feels right. If it feels good, it probably is. If it doesn’t, stop, adapt and seek advice of a pre natal fitness coach or health professional.

Trimester 1

  • Providing you feel OK and don’t have any contraindications, continue as normal but remember, don’t overdo it and listen to your body.
  • If you are completely new to exercise, start slowly; 5 mins brisk walking for example, adding 5 more minutes each time.

Trimester 2/3

  • Avoid exercises where you are lying flat on your back or standing completely still for prolonged periods. This could compress the vena cava and restrict blood flow to your baby, leaving you feeling nauseous, dizzy and short of breath.
  • Avoid anything which adds pressure down the centre of your abs; sit ups, crunches, leg raises as well as kipping, toes to bar, American Kettlebell swings etc to prevent diastasis recti (separation of the abdominal muscles.) Core strength is very important but focus on movements such as side plank, pelvic tilts, planks (adapted if necessary) and 4 point kneeling.
  • Don’t bang the bump. Adapt movements such as burpees and push ups to account for the growing bump!
  • Limit jumping. Jumping is high impact that increases intra-abdominal pressure which can lead to further complications.

Things to remember

  • Your centre of gravity is changing; be mindful of your balance!
  • The hormone relaxin is preparing your body for labour which can make joints more lax and more flexible. Don’t over stretch.
  • Always ‘want’ to do it. Don’t follow the latest YouTube workout that you absolutely hate just because your friend says you should. Do it for you and find something you enjoy.
  • Yoga and Pilates is very beneficial in pregnancy so consider following an online pregnancy session or find a local instructor.

Get in touch if you’d like further advice or would like to join one of our Pre and Post Natal programmes.

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