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Fri 1 Jun, 2018
12 Tips for Exercising safely when Pregnant
The more active and fit you are during your pregnancy, the easier it will be to adapt to your changing body shape and natural weight gain as your baby grows. It will also ease the pain of labour and help you to easily get back into shape after giving birth. You can keep up your daily exercise routine for as long as you feel comfortable, as pregnancy can be challenging sometimes on the mind and body. We’ve got some tips on exercising safely whilst pregnant, so as to avoid injury and to keep your body in good shape while embracing all the changes.
Check with your Healthcare professional before exercising
The first and most important box to tick is to talk to your Doctor or Maternity Team about taking up exercise whilst pregnant. If you exercised regularly before you were pregnant, and have no complications, you can probably continue working out, but with obvious modifications to your workout routine.
If you weren’t active before getting pregnant, then don’t jump straight into strenuous sports! Take up gentle exercises, and if you are taking a class, please inform your instructor that you are pregnant. They can probably modify some moves or exercises for you.
Do gentle exercises; skip dangerous sports
Doing aerobic sports at the start of your pregnancy is fine (as long as you’ve checked with your Maternity Team first). For example, cycling whilst in the early stages of pregnancy is acceptable if you’re comfortable and balanced, but consider cycling on a stationary bike during later stages of your pregnancy. There are many classes that are suitable for pregnant women, such as Yoga, Pilates, Swimming and Aqua Aerobics. You could also consider getting a PT who is qualified in Prenatal coaching. This means your training sessions are tailored to your needs (once it’s signed off by your Doctor and your fitness levels are checked to determine the intensity of the sessions). Avoid contact sports, high-altitude sports, and deep sea diving (you’d be surprised how many expectant Mums think they can do these while pregnant)!
Warm-up beforehand to avoid Injury
Warming up is great for preparing your muscles and joints before your exercise session and for increasing your heart rate slowly. It also reduces and avoids any risk to injury – the last thing you’d want is to sprain an ankle or injure yourself while pregnant. A sudden increase in heart rate could also put your baby at risk with the extra stress on your body, so building up slowly is key.
Don’t exercise in high heat or humidity
During pregnancy, you will have higher body temperature and an increased metabolic rate, so you’ll feel warmer than usual. This can lead to overheating much quicker than usual, even before your belly gets bigger. It’s important to avoid exercising in high heat or humidity, as it becomes harder for your body to regulate its temperature. Overheating can lead to dizziness, nausea and shortness of breath, so it is important to stop exercising immediately if you feel unwell, and cool off quickly.
Eat enough calories before you exercise
Exercise burns calories, and whilst expecting you’ll be eating for two! You’ll want to eat well to nourish and strengthen your body before your workout. Eating 3-4 hours before your exercise session and immediately after is recommended. This leaves enough time for your food to digest, whilst replenishing your body with the necessary nutrients that you’ve burnt off after your workout.
Drink plenty of water
Drinking water before, during and after your exercise session is a must; otherwise you can become dehydrated. This can lead to a reduction in the amount of blood reaching the placenta. It can also avoid your overheating during exercise, as dehydration can increase your risk of overheating and possibly triggering contractions. There is no official recommendation for how much water pregnant women can drink, but it is important to stay hydrated throughout your pregnancy.
Listen to your body and don’t over-do it
Don’t exhaust yourself. As a general rule, when expecting, you should be able to hold a conversation as you exercise. If you become breathless, then you may be exercising too strenuously and need to stop and catch your breath. In general, the best rule to follow is to listen to your body, and stop if something hurts. Otherwise it could lead to potential complications.
Wear the right clothes
Even if you’re proud of your pregnancy body, it’s always best to wear loose-fitted clothes when exercising. You can dress in layers so to avoid overheating by taking each layer off easily during your workout. You should also make sure your maternity bra gives your full support and doesn’t lead to a bad back. Wearing properly fitted and supportive trainers is also good and can help your back in the long-term, as pregnancy can be associated with lower back problems.
Don’t lie flat on your back
It’s always best to avoid lying flat on your back for prolonged periods of time after the first trimester. The weight of your bump can put pressure against the main vein that brings blood back to the heart. This reduces blood flow to the heart and uterus and can lead to dizziness, shortness of breath and nausea. Whether at home or in a pregnancy class, you can put a foam pillow or wedge on your upper back to enable to you to be almost flat without pushing down on the main vein.
Get up from the floor slowly
As your belly grows, your centre of gravity can shift and put you off balance. If you try to get up too quickly, you may get dizzy from the blood rushing to other places and away from your head too quickly! Take your time getting up, and ask for assistance if you can.
Don’t forget to cool down
At the end of your workout, it’s important to cool down so your muscles and blood flow can slow down regularly. Take a 5-10 minute gentle walk and do some pregnancy-friendly stretching. This can improve your flexibility, bring your heart rate back to normal and helps to prevent sore muscles from your workout.
Keep your body moving!
It’s always a good idea to keep active during your pregnancy. Keeping a regular exercise routine throughout pregnancy, tailoring it as you get into later stages, can make pregnancy easier on your body. It doesn’t have to be a strenuous workout; just 20-30 minutes of moderate exercise such as walking on days where you’re not going to a pregnancy class, or if you feel like you need a gentle day off, can still be beneficial to you and your baby in the long-term.