Expert Advice | Is All Exercise Safe During Pregnancy?
As I am sure all moms, and expecting moms, are aware; pregnancy brings about some pretty crazy changes to your body! But there are some changes that you can prevent, such as excess weight gain and postnatal pelvic issues.
Exercise during pregnancy is so beneficial, even for 30 mins a day. An ideal workout gets the heart pumping, keeps your limber, manages weight gain and strengthens muscles without undue physical stress for the Mother or Baby. However, it is important to note that there are also some exercises you should most certainly stay clear of.
As far as exercise goes during pregnancy there is a lot more that you can do than what you cannot! It all depends on what your activity levels were before the pregnancy. If you were actively running every day, you can keep running. If you walked multiple times a week, keep walking! Even recent research suggest that it is safe for pregnant moms to strength train. The most important thing to keep in mind is not to overdo it. If anything feels strange or uncomfortable, that is enough to either back off a bit or completely stop the exercise.
Things You Should Do During Pregnancy
- Pelvic floor exercises and kegels – try to do at least 10 reps, 3 to 5 times a day!
- Swimming/ water aerobics. Anything in water will be great as it takes the stress off your joints.
- Light core work. Even though it may seem difficult to work your core, by strengthening these muscles you can ease the labour process and reduce lower back pain.
- If weight lifting, keep the weight light and repetitions up. For example, do one to two sets of 12 to 15 reps.
- Don’t lose your flexibility! Try and stretch for 5-10 minutes after ever workout session. As this will help prevent soreness, it will also maintain your flexibility.
- Stay motivated! This may be the toughest part of trying to stay fit while pregnant. Join a class where you can meet other moms and that way you can motivate each other.
- Stay hydrated. Make sure to drink ample fluids before and after your workout.
- Focus on your glutes when working out too, this will help with stability towards the later end of your 2nd and 3rd trimester.
Things You Should Not Do During Pregnancy
- Avoid all core work that involves lying on your back or stomach once you reach the 2nd trimester! This position can reduce blood flow to the foetus.
- When weight training, don’t hold your breath! This can cause you to feel light-headed and increase your risk of falling or tripping and be sure to do each rep correctly, remembering to keep your back straight, your feet planted firmly on the ground when applicable, and your breathing steady.
- No hot yoga, steam rooms or hot tubs! When your body is undergoing such drastic changes, you want to stay clear of intense heat to avoid overheating the baby.
- Avoid taking up any new extreme exercises when pregnant – plenty of time for that afterwards.
- Stay away from bouncing or jarring activities. This is because as you progress in your pregnancy your joints get looser in preparation to give birth and are more prone to injury.
Avoid exercising at too high an intensity for too long a period. Keeping the heart rate at 140bpm and staying at or below 60% intensity will reduce the risk of hypoxia (lack of oxygen to the baby). Keep your own temperature moderate. Baby is unable to regular their own temp at this stage, so it is important to keep intensity low when working out and keep well hydrated while taking plenty of breaks and avoid saunas, steam rooms etc A good time to take up Pilates which is great for strengthening your pelvic floor and deep core muscles and can help prevent abdominal separation.
When relaxin (the hormone that is released in your body when pregnant and allows for more limber joint movement) is at its highest. So it's important to take stretching and exercises to a moderate point as opposed to over stretching. A good time to introduce floor work to your routine if you are not already doing so, work on strengthening your core, glutes, back, upper body. Also be sure to work your hamstrings, inner and outer upper legs, and quads.
This is where your centre of gravity changes, so take care when doing any exercises with equipment. Your Heart rate increases by 20bpm in the 3rd trimester so you need to lower the intensity of your workouts and avoid overheating.
Consult your doctor before attempting any exercise during pregnancy. The information contained on eumom.ie is not a substitute for examination, diagnosis or treatment by a qualified medical professional. If in doubt, always consult your doctor.