In the past, any form of exercise during Pregnancy was considered to be taboo. It was positivity encouraged to adopt a sedentary lifestyle throughout pregnancy. However, the effect of exercise in pregnant women has now been widely researched, and many studies have shown there are great benefits to exercising during pregnancy.
Benefits of exercising during Pregnancy
Exercising during and after pregnancy can have huge beneficial effects on a new mothers mental and physical wellbeing. It encourages you to take care of your health, mind and body.
It will strengthen your body in preparation for birth, help the recovery of your pelvic floor and core muscles after birth, relieve stress and muscle tension and promotes a positive outlook for you, your pregnancy and your baby; giving you confidence at a time you may need it most.
Exercising during pregnancy is safe for both mother and foetus and offers healthy rewards after pregnancy too (Wadworth 2007), though there are precautions are need to select the right form of exercise for you.
Benefits of exercise during pregnancy
- Maintains a base level of fitness
- Improves circulation
- Enhances muscular balance
- Strengthens abdominal muscles
- Keeps joints mobile
- Release tension and stress
- Promotes better sleep
- Helps maintain a better mental and physical self image
- Aids post pregnancy recovery
Keep in mind, it is important to take care of yourself and your body during pregnancy. You will inevitably gain weight, growing a baby will do that and it’s a beautiful thing!
You can not really expect to increase your fitness level; look to maintain a good base level of fitness to aid pregnancy and hopefully help you get back in to training more easily after the birth.
Advised exercise for pregnancy
- Pregnancy Pilates
- Pregnancy Yoga
- Jogging (if you have perviously been a runner)
- Gentle stretching/mobility exercise
- Low Impact Weight Training
Are you new to exercise? – Seek advice
It is advised not to take up a new exercise regime if you have been out of action for a long period before pregnancy. There are forms of exercise that are perfectly safe (Pregnancy Pilates and Yoga, walking, swimming), though seek advise on these options from your doctor, mid wife or a pregnancy qualified physical trainer.
Is it ok to exercise in your first trimester?
Many people are told to hold off exercise in the first trimester. This is your first stage of change and you and your body many feel extremely tired. You may not even feel like exercising, which is perfectly normal and ok. Listen to your body and how you feel. It is important to give yourself a break and rest when you feel you most need it.
For those who want to keep exercising; exercising in your 1st and 2nd trimester has been correlated with feeling better in the 3rd trimester; a decrease in perceived exertion during labour and is also associated with fewer symptoms and discomforts of pregnancy (Sternfeld et al, 1995; Sternfeld, 1997).
That said, it is advised to lower the intensity, the length of aerobic exercise during you first Trimester, especially between 8-14weeks.
The benefits of Pilates during pregnancy
Pregnancy specific Pilates is a perfect choice of pre natal exercise. It is safe and effective and hits all the right areas that benefit pregnancy so well.
Pilates focuses on targeting the smaller, deeper muscles of the body, through slow, controlled and centralized movements. You get to build strength as you mobilize and improve your body awareness and mind-body connection, all at the same time.
It also helps the birth and post-delivery stages, through the teaching of correct alignment, core and pelvic floor support and hip stability. Pilates helps to promote a positive outlook for you, your pregnancy and your baby, giving you confidence at a time you may need it most.
The benefits of Yoga during pregnancy
Pregnancy specific Yoga classes are a great for expecting Mum’s. They offer many benefits in the way of mobility and tension relief, breathing and relaxation, and combines meditation techniques of the Yoga philosophy. Perfect for all stages of pregnancy.
However, it is advised to avoid normal yoga classes unless you have been practicing it for years and understand your own body’s limits. There are two reasons for this: held Yoga poses first and foremost create heat in your body and raise your internal core temperature by quite a few degrees. It is strongly advised to keep the length of held yoga poses to shorter periods.
The second risk factor of doing a non-pregnancy yoga class is the effects many yoga poses and vinyasa flows have on joints. As mentioned before, the ‘Relaxin’ hormone starts to soften connective tissues and joints in the entire body, meaning they are more vulnerable to over-stretching and joint stress, especially if you are already hypermobile through your joints. It is always advised to learn to limit your body during pregnancy and focus on the control and alignment of your body instead.
Need Help or Advise?
If you are keen to continue exercising during and after our pregnancy and would like a little more advise; I would be more than happy to help. I’ll assess the benefits and risks with you and help you decided on a safe and effective level of exercise that is right for you.