What exercises can I do while pregnant?
Exercising while pregnant has long been a taboo subject. Growing a human is no mean feat but it doesn’t mean pregnant women need to spend nine months curled up on the sofa waiting for their big arrival. If you exercised before the baby, then there’s no reason why you should stop during your pregnancy!
Personal trainer Lauren Allen knows a thing or two about pregnancy workouts. The mum-to-be continues to train her clients at her kickboxing gym 9Round and has managed to adjust her own workouts to suit her ever-growing bump. We caught up with Lauren to find out more about exercising while pregnant and which movements she recommends for those expecting their own bundle of joy.
“Keeping up your regular physical activity during pregnancy can help ease pregnancy related symptoms as well as help maintain your strength and mobility and prepare your body for birth and beyond. Exercise is not dangerous for you or your baby as long as you are being sensible and listening to your body properly, staying hydrated and well fuelled. It is recommended to stick to what you know and have done prior to pregnancy – of course with limitations and adjustments to protect the health of your baby.
Now is not the time to aim for a PB or to put pressure on yourself to smash your workouts. Exercise should be used in pregnancy to maintain your fitness levels as best you can and there is also evidence to support those that keep up regular exercise and an active lifestyle are less likely to experience problems in their pregnancy.
I want to be active during my pregnancy – where do I start?
The first thing you must do is consult with your midwife or doctor. Everybody is different and they are the best people to advise you, especially if you have any health problems or complications.
Which exercises are best during pregnancy?
If you are looking to increase your activity during pregnancy to reap the benefits, the safest options are walking and swimming. Starting off with just 15 minutes will help improve your mood, circulation and will help in reducing swelling.
If you regularly lifted weights before falling pregnant, you may have to reduce your weight and increase your rest periods to ensure you are able to complete the exercises with correct technique and not put your body under too much stress. Continuing strength training during pregnancy can help maintain bone and muscular strength which will result in a reduction of back pain and aid correct posture.
Core training is safe when used as a tool to maintain correct posture. When performed correctly with the right exercises, core training can also help reduce Diastasis Recti – the separation of the rectus abdominis (front of the abdominals). This can cause back issues and pain, poor posture as well as reduce recover time post-partum. Diastasis Recti is sometimes unavoidable and is a natural process of the body, but it can be minimised by avoiding certain exercises and activities.
Which exercises should I avoid?
Exercises that involve twisting and putting strain across the abdominals can cause Diastasis Recti. The connective tissue can become strained by lifting too heavy - always ensure whatever you are lifting, whether that’s weights or moving something day-to-day, that you are in control and feel stable through the core.
Sit ups need to be eliminated from your workouts immediately. You will also have to be careful getting up out of bed and ‘coning’ the abdominals when performing push ups or the plank. I strongly suggest performing any plank positioned exercises with your upper body on an elevated surface and/or on your knees to avoid the strain across your abdominals.
What else do I need to consider when exercising during pregnancy?
During the first trimester, your body will release hormones such as relaxin and progesterone to relax the muscles, ligaments and joints, which can make you more prone to injury. It’s important to complete exercises safely wit reduced intensity to avoid injury and complications.
The increase of blood volume, as well as the weight of the uterus itself, can also affect your balance and stability. Because of this, you will also have to limit the amount of time you spend lying flat on your back as the weight can compress an important blood vessel which flows to your baby called the Vena Cava. This unfortunately rules out a lot of core exercises but there are options such as Bird Dog or a plank variation on the knees."
Lauren's three take-away tips
1) Listen to your body – everybody is different and will experience pregnancy differently
2) Continue to exercise if it makes you feel good! Despite popular belief, exercising during pregnancy is safe and can be incredibly beneficial – just be sensible and don’t expect any PBs!
3) Be sure to consult your doctor or midwife before taking on exercise – they’ll be able to advise what’s best for you and baby
Want more info on working on while pregnant? Head over to our blog to read Amy Parr’s tips on exercising while pregnant. For more training tips and advice, our blog is where it’s at! Have a read today.