Are you pregnant and unsure about how to exercise during pregnancy? Are you worried that exercising will harm your baby? Are you confused about the best forms of exercise during pregnancy? Our advice – DON’T WORRY, it’s a lot more straight forward than you think!
Exercising during pregnancy is not only safe, but beneficial for both you and your baby’s health. Thankfully there is ever increasing research and media coverage on the importance of exercising during pregnancy, which dispels many of the myths which previously surrounded staying active during pregnancy. We now know that exercise can help to reduce complications during pregnancy and delivery, in addition to assisting post-partum recovery. Exercise during pregnancy also has the potential to improve the mental and physical health of children into adulthood. It’s a “win-win” situation!
Most pregnant women need to make little or no changes to their exercising regime in early pregnancy. As your pregnancy progresses, gradual changes will happen naturally, as the intensity of your exercising will need to be lowered due to your changing body shape. There are obvious exceptions i.e. those who partake in very hazardous hobbies where there is guaranteed physical contact (especially to the abdominal region) or those are very likely to sustain heavy falls.
Having recently given birth to her first child, Siobhan Fitzpatrick, owner of Waterford Chartered Physiotherapy Clinic gives the following advice:
1) Don’t Make Drastic Changes
Apart from the hazardous hobbies described earlier, try to maintain a similar exercise regime to that which you had pre pregnancy, especially in the early days. For those who normally lead an active lifestyle, don’t use pregnancy as an excuse to put your feet up and pile on the pounds! You will be far more likely to have complications during the pregnancy and delivery if you lose your fitness. Also, it will be all the more difficult to get back your fitness and figure afterwards if you gain excessive weight during your pregnancy.
If you lead a sedentary lifestyle and are carrying extra weight before becoming pregnant, don’t make sudden increases to your exercise levels. Many people are eager to lose weight in early pregnancy so as to reduce the risk of complications further into their pregnancy and during delivery. However, it is important that the exercise intensity you work at is appropriate for your level and is increased gradually.
2) Choose The Right Form of Exercise For You
Different types of exercise suit people differently during pregnancy; no two pregnancies are the same. As regards aerobic exercise, I know people who ran daily right up to their due date without any discomfort and I also know people who had to discontinue running within a few weeks of becoming pregnant. I personally ran up to 17 weeks and really didn’t feel comfortable beyond that point. I then continued to exercise by walking for another month or so, before swimming exclusively for aerobic fitness until my due date. There is also the option of an exercise bike for those of you who are not a fan of swimming in later pregnancy.
As well as aerobic fitness, your body needs to be strong and flexible in preparation for it’s changing shape and the challenge of delivery. Ante-natal specific Pilates, Yoga and pregnancy fitness classes are all great forms of exercise once supervised by a suitably qualified instructor. I have always been a fan of Pilates and followed an ante-natal Pilates/Fitness programme for the duration of my pregnancy.
3) Listen To Your Healthcare Provider
Unfortunately some pregnancies are tougher than others and exercising may not be advised due to specific concerns. Every healthcare provider will advise on the benefits of exercise during pregnancy, so it is extremely important to follow their guidance if they recommend reducing your activity levels.
Exercising during pregnancy can be really enjoyable and a great “time out” to allow your mind wander and think of baby names!