SISJ LIFESTYLE: EXERCISE DURING PREGNANCY (PART ONE) >
As you know, my pregnancy mantra has been ‘EACH TO THEIR OWN’. I also strongly believe that just because we are pregnant, doesn’t mean we should dramatically alter our lifestyle choices. This includes what we eat, our exercise regime and even how we dress. While obviously our life as we know it will never be the same again, it’s not over! I like to think of pregnancy, marriage and parenthood as ‘happy me = happy kids, husband and life’. If this means going back to work, do it. If this means keeping-up your exercise regime (as long as it’s safe), do it. The list goes on and on. Each to their own.
Today on the blog, I have invited my personal trainer and SISJ contributing editor, Kirsty McLean from Body Clarity, to talk about the importance of exercise in pregnancy and what’s safe. This is part one of a series of posts, so stay tuned. If you have any questions for myself or Kirsty, please comment below.
E X E R C I S E & P R E G N A N C Y (By Kirsty McLean)
Not so long ago, it was considered unnecessary for women to exercise when they became pregnant. However, times have changed and correct, safe, moderate exercise throughout pregnancy is 100% encouraged. If you’re still exercising absolutely do not stop, keep it up at a safe level. Before we get going, if you did little or no exercise before you became pregnant, it’s not always recommended to start a brand-new fitness regime. Having said that, some exercise can only do you good. I would suggest speaking with your doctor or OBGYN about what type of exercise are best suited for you. I would suggest something low in intensity, like a walk or swim.
If you exercised before your pregnancy, and as long as there have been no complications or risks with your pregnancy to date, you should keep it up albeit with a safe exercise program that is designed for you. Let me also say, it’s vital that you understand what you are doing is safe, or that you train with a class or PT who understands pregnancy fitness.
Congratulations, you’re pregnant! For first timers this is all very new and unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before. You’re nervous, anxious, you may be exhausted and you’re unusually short of breath after ten stairs! Let’s also not forget about those of you who are suffering through morning sickness. Initially you’ll want to keep it quiet, thus impacting on your social routine and even fitness routine. If any of you have read Sarah Jane’s earlier blog posts on pregnancy, you would know she actually stopped training until about 14 weeks. SJ definitely ticked the boxes above, by being slightly anxious, super tired and just not up for it. Once she hit the second trimester and cleared the big week 12 scan, her confidence and energy came back. If you do decide to stop training at any point, remember that your diet is key during this time. You ideally only want to gain between 11 – 16kg.
So what should you expect in those early days?
In your first trimester, as I mentioned above, your body is busy adjusting to your new-found state. So you need to cut yourself some slack! Your mind and body are experiencing massive mental and physical changes. When you do finally get the energy to get back to the gym, there are a few key things you should avoid: bouncing movements, jumping, rapid changes in direction, sudden changes in position, stopping abruptly, overheating and dehydration. It’s crucial that you inform your trainer or group fitness instructor of your pregnancy, so they can tailor a regime for you. Number one though, listen to your own body. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.
It would be my suggestion that as soon as you know you are pregnant (and you intend to keep exercising), get yourself a heart rate monitor and keep an eye on your heart rate. From day one of your pregnancy, it is recommended that you do not increase your heart rate to greater than 140-150 beats per minute. It’s also highly recommended to only keep your cardio workout sessions to about 15 minutes maximum bursts. So resting and taking lots of breaks to get your heart rate down before starting again is very important. As your pregnancy progresses, it is advised that you refrain from performing heavy weight bearing exercises, that could impact on your muscles and body in a negative way (see SJ’s post on Relaxin). You need to be wary here as Relaxin, the hormone you produce during pregnancy softens all your joints, ligaments, tendons and muscles and it gives you false perception of improved flexibility! So don’t start trying to get down in the splits now!
Some of the benefits of maintaining a regular fitness regime during pregnancy:
TRAINING FOR A MARATHON! – A great deal of my clients who have given birth describe it as one crazy marathon of a race. Your cardiovascular system in full use during labour, so it will often push you to your mental and physical limits. This is why keeping up your cardiovascular fitness and strength during your pregnancy, can assist some women in enduring a long and tiring labour.
EASE SOME STRESS – Pregnancy can be a stressful period for some women (so try really hard to remain as calm and stress-free as possible). Exercise is a great way to reduce the stress and calm the mind. Everyone is different, but there’s sure to be an activity that helps you. This maybe walking, a light jog, prenatal yoga, prenatal pilates or a suitable strength program with friends in a group situation, with a personal trainer, or flying solo.
GET BACK INTO YOUR SKINNY JEANS QUICKER! – Keeping the exercise momentum rolling during your pregnancy, will allow you to get back into your pre-pregnancy shape quicker. It’s so much harder getting back into your exercise regime, when you have stopped for a long period of time, so where you can, keep up it up.
SOME FEEL-GOOD ME TIME – For some women, the fact of the matter is, they just dont enjoy being pregnant. Whether it’s due to sickness, complications, stress or just hormonal, you can feel really crappy at times. For this reason, whether you feel good or not, it’s important to take some me-time. Do what makes you feel good and happy.
We hope you’ve enjoyed today’s introduction post and we look forward to bringing your more info on exercise during pregnancy.
SJ & Kirsty x
IMAGES VIA REBECCA SWISS BLOG & FIT PREGNANCY MAGAZINE