One of the benefits of exercising whilst pregnant is that it lifts your spirits and prepares you for labor and childbirth, but it’s important to be extra cautious during your workouts.
The more active and fit you are during pregnancy, the easier it will be for you to adapt to your changing shape and weight gain. It will also help you to cope with labour and get back into shape after the birth. So long as you feel comfortable, there’s no stoping of you going about your normal daily physical activity or exercise (sport, running, yoga, dancing or even walking to the shops and back).
Exercise is not dangerous for your baby – there is some evidence that active women are less likely to experience problems in later pregnancy and labour. Studies have shown that children who were exposed to exercise in utero are less likely to be overweight and are at a lower isk for diabetes. Exercise is not only a way to start connecting with your baby, but it’s a way for you to stay connected to your own body. Granted, there may be a few hazards along the way, but if you take it one day at a time and embrace the changes your body is going through, you will come out stronger in the end.
If you weren’t active before you got pregnant, don’t suddenly take up strenuous exercise. If you start an aerobic exercise programme (such as running, swimming, cycling, walking or aerobics classes), tell the instructor that you’re pregnant and begin with no more than 15 minutes of continuous exercise, three times a week. Increase this gradually to at least four 30-minute sessions a week.
Remember that exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous to be beneficial.
Exercise tips when you’re pregnant:
1. Go easy on your core.
Diastasis recti is a condition in which the large abdominal muscles separate after pregnancy. This is caused by overworking the abdominal muscles during pregnancy, so you need to work very closely with instructors to find out what core exercises you should do—and if you should do them at all.
2. Listen to your body.
You don’t have to be a pregnancy expert to figure this one out, but listening to your body is key when it comes to both your workouts and your healthy lifestyle. Do what feels right, and only do what you can handle without overdoing it.
3. Get to class early.
Carve out a little extra time to get to class early and talk to your instructor about your pregnancy and any modifications they recommend for the class. Instructors aren’t mind-readers, so if you don’t let them know what’s going on, they can’t help keep you and the little nugget safe!
4. Stay hydrated, and keep healthy snacks on hand.
This one is key for you. You have to get creative with your water to get yourself to drink plenty, so start adding fresh fruits. Cucumbers, watermelon, lemon, and strawberries. For snacks, try not to leave the house without a few easy-to-pack snacks on hand.
5. Get plenty of sleep.
Even sneak in a nap if you’re able! Taking a good 20 minutes during the day to just sit and chill works wonders. Try it. Don’t overdo it, and be careful with starting new workouts or activity that you didn’t do before pregnancy. Your body may not react well to it.
Exercises to avoid in pregnancy
- don’t lie flat on your back for prolonged periods, particularly after 16 weeks, because the weight of your bump presses on the main blood vessel bringing blood back to your heart and this can make you feel faint
- don’t take part in contact sports where there’s a risk of being hit, such as kickboxing, judo or squash
- don’t go scuba diving, because the baby has no protection against decompression sickness and gas embolism (gas bubbles in the bloodstream)
- don’t exercise at heights over 2,500m above sea level until you have acclimatised: this is because you and your baby are at risk of altitude sickness.
It’s recommended that you, stick to the workouts you did in pre-pregnancy. Keep in mind, everyone’s body is different. So do what feels right for you! If your body responds well to a new activity, awesome. Keep it up. Good luck!