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How To Keep Exercising Safely All Through Pregnancy

You suspected it, you've tested, and it’s confirmed: You’re pregnant.

So apart from the joy you and your partner might be feeling, you might also wonder about a few things that are going to change, to make sure your unborn baby can grow in a safe and healthy environment.

So if you like keeping fit, that’s probably the first question you ask: Am I allowed to exercise?

One of our readers is in the same boat and decided to turn to our fitness trainer and expert Stephanie Sinnott. Here is her advice on how to still keep active, and also ensure your baby is safe:

I am 12 weeks pregnant, and I keep fit with regular 30-minute runs and boxercise classes. I want to continue with my fitness regime, but I want to make sure that I do it safely. Can you please tell me what the dos and don’ts are for exercising in pregnancy?

READ MORE: Can Exercise During Pregnancy Make Your Baby Smarter? 

Stephanie Answers

Once you are past the 12-week stage, you are able to take up some light exercise. Make sure you have cleared with your doctor or midwife that you are okay to exercise, and always bear in mind the following safety guidelines:

  • Listen to your body – if you feel weak, light-headed, dizzy or unwell, stop straight away and take a rest.
  • Make sure you warm up for at least five minutes before.
  • If you feel you are overheating, slow down.
  • Don’t lie on your back for longer than 30 seconds – a growing baby can lie on your vena cava and slow blood flow to the heart down, causing dizziness.
  • Get up from the floor slowly.
  • Don’t stretch your arms above your heart.
  • Don’t overstretch – relaxin, a hormone which relaxes your joints and muscles, is present, and stretching too much can cause a muscle to tear.
  • Cool down for at least five minutes.
  • Listen to your body. While it is fantastic that you are exercising and staying healthy, you don’t want to overdo it. Yes, keeping fit is good for you, but now is not the time to throw yourself into loads of exercise, or for trying to lose weight. There are many exercises you should completely avoid while pregnant. You should adapt your regular exercise routine, and listen to your body.

READ MORE: 10 Pregnancy Exercise Tips For The First Trimester Of Pregnancy

Avoid

  • Any activity that will raise your heart rate too high – if you are very out of breath, you probably shouldn’t be doing it.
  • Any activity that will make you sweat too much – you heat from the inside out, so your baby will be very warm in there.
  • Any jumping or bouncing exercises – always make sure you have one foot firmly on the floor at all times.
  • ALL ABDOMINAL EXERCISES! – Never do sit ups, ever! You can cause diastasis recti, the separation of the abdominal wall, which is very hard to get back
  • Kettlebell swings – your hips, softened by the hormone Relaxin, can be pulled and injured easily during pregnancy, which can possibly lead to SPD, or pelvic girdle pain.
  • Step aerobics – balance is thrown and it’s easy to fall off the step.
  • Cycling after the second trimester – balance again.
  • Running/Jogging – a big debate but I would recommend stopping. The reason being it is a high impact exercise, and can have a reverse effect on all those pelvic floor exercises you should be doing.

READ MORE: Yogalates: Exercise For Pregnant Women

It may seem like there are so many things to avoid, but don’t worry, there are still lots of exercises you can do:

  • Walking – one of the best ways to keep fit during pregnancy.
  • Swimming – water supports your joints and creates resistance for strength.
  • Aqua aerobics –inform the instructor that you’re pregnant.
  • Light aerobics routine – again, one foot on the floor.
  • Strength routine using dumbbells or dynabands  – make sure to keep your arms below shoulder height, don’t raise your arms above your heart in other words.

About Stephanie
Mum of two, Stephanie Sinnott is a personal trainer and group instructor specialising in pre and post natal exercise. She runs The Fit Mama Plan, offering group exercise classes and at-home personal training in Dublin, as well as six-week fitness, healthy eating and weight loss meal plans for new mums. www.thefitmamaplan.com


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