Congratulations! You’re pregnant!
You’re about to start an amazing life changing journey. But one thing that shouldn’t change is your fitness. In fact, your exercise routine is more important now than ever before.
An active, healthy pregnancy will help improve your baby’s health, reduce back pain, stress, and speed up your post-delivery recovery dramatically.
In saying this, you will need to look at your workouts a little differently now that you’re exercising for two. Let’s delve deeper into the adjustments you need to make to your exercise routine while your mini-me is growing. This will ensure you can have the healthiest pregnancy, childbirth and recovery possible.
Benefits of exercise for the little bun in the oven
- Mums who exercise during pregnancy are more likely to have babies within a healthy weight range and their children are less likely to develop childhood obesity
- Infants whose mother exercises during pregnancy tend to be less stressed during both labour and delivery
- Exercise helps control blood sugar levels and reduces your risk of developing gestational diabetes
The latest research is stating that the benefits of exercise during pregnancy far outweigh the risks. In fact, a sedentary lifestyle is the real risk in pregnancy and is often overlooked.
Things to remember
Core core core!
Your core is the hardest-working part of your body during pregnancy and childbirth, and when you think about it, your belly is going to get pretty big right? You see all these mums-to-be walking around with their hands on their back and in pain because they have this baby in their belly putting a heap of strain on their lower back.
First thing to know about core training while pregnant is that most ‘traditional’ core exercises are a no-no after your first trimester. That’s a no to any exercise that has you lying on your back for extended periods of time – no crunches, no planks. Instead, try activating the deep core muscles as this can provide stability to the spine and pelvis which promotes better posture, therefore helping your body adapt to your growing bub. To work your core, have a go at the exercise below. We call this a bird-dog and it’ll work to strengthen your mid-section while also promoting lower back strength and balance.
Pelvic floor exercises will be your best friend
The muscles around the pelvis come under great strain in pregnancy and childbirth. If your pelvic floor muscles are weakened, you may find that you leak urine when you cough or sneeze. By performing pelvic floor exercises, you can strengthen these muscles and prevent the sometimes-awkward repercussions. Perfect exercise example for this is a glute bridge (as pictured below). Remember to squeeze your glutes as you drive up through your heels and slowly lower back down.
Slow it down
Your body is experiencing a whole range of different changes, both physical and mental. Exercising and keeping your body moving through these times can be challenging and it’s important to listen to your body and how it’s responding. The old recommendation was to keep your heart rate at or below 140 beats per minute. Research is now recommending to listen to your body and if you can’t carry on a conversation or you’re feeling faint, slow down or stop. Pregnancy isn’t a time to push yourself, more so a time to just pat yourself on the back for getting out there and moving a little bit each day.
Compound movements are the way to go
Despite what some people think, science states that you can continue with compound movements like squats and deadlifts while pregnant, but you want to ensure you’re not putting too much downward pressure on the baby. While compound movements are going to be beneficial, it’s a bad idea to lift at maximum intensity while pregnant. Therefore, the best way to minimize this risk is to use lighter weights and, in some cases reduce range of motion in certain exercises.
Suggested exercises during pregnancy
The general rule of thumb during pregnancy is to listen to your body and this may require you to lower the intensity of your exercise. As you get further into your pregnancy you may need to reduce the length of your cardio sessions and the intensity of your high-intensity interval training routine. We recommend that you keep moving no matter what it is you enjoy.
Options include but are not limited to:
- Cycling outdoors or on a stationary bike
- Muscle strengthening exercises (inc. pelvic floor exercises)
- Yoga, stretching
There are certainly a lot of benefits to reap from being active during your pregnancy. However there are many women out there who are not active enough to gain these benefits. There are definitely barriers you can experience as a pregnant women, so you should speak to an exercise expert such as an Accredited Exercise Physiologist to discuss strategies of overcoming these barriers and getting you into the swing of things to put you on the course of a more active and safe pregnancy.
So there you are Mummas-to-be. Listen to your body, keep it chilled, and your new bub (not to mention your body) will thank you for it later.
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