Advise for exercising when pregnant

Some women want to train more often when they find out they are pregnant, some women are hesitant.

Being a mother whom has experienced two pregnancies and exercised up until the day before I gave birth to both my boys, know it is totally safe to continue to exercise throughout. Yes there are guidelines, as there is for anyone for any health requirements. The most important person you need to listen to is you – your body. Any qualified trainer can advise and assist you with your workouts, but you always need to inform them on how you feel, and how your body is feeling to ensure your workouts are safe and effective.

It is ok to ask your personal trainer if they have qualifications in pre and post pregnancy training, it’s to ensure you feel confident in the tasks you are asked to perform. If you are not training under a qualified trainer please take into consideration the following advice:

  1. Limit the amount of exercise you are doing lying on your back – this is important in your second trimester, this is due to reducing blood flow to your heart and head, which can cause you to feel lightheaded and could faint. Also the blood flow to the placenta and baby decrease. If you feel a bit lightheaded in this position, please turn to your left side and rest.
  2. Separation of the rectus abdominous ; about 30% of pregnant women will experience this. If this occurs abdominal exercises should cease. I have my clients work more on back strength and glutes more so than abdominal exercises. It’s not that you should ignore the abdominals, but whilst you are pregnant it’s good to work on back muscles to help support the weight that is increasing through the core area and into the front of the body.
  3. Resistance training whilst pregnant is still important. I again work with clients to maintain their strength, they do not need to increase their strength, but they certainly don’t want to loose their strength either. Make sure you are comfortable within your position, do not load heavy in squats or lunges, and just make sure you have control throughout the exercise. Your heart rate will elevate quicker due to the increase in blood pumping around your body. Your flat bench press will become a more of a slight incline press, so as you are not lying flat on your back for too long.
  4. From the moment you find out your pregnant, start strengthening your pelvic floor muscles. The stronger they are the better they recover after labour and delivery and will help to prevent stress incontinence. A way to strengthen these muscles is – while seated or lying down on the floor pretend you are trying to stop from urinating. These small muscles you can feel are your pelvic floor muscles. Try to contract these muscles short and fast a few times and also longer holds. By completing both types a few times each day, this will help strengthen and be beneficial for post birth.
  5. Wear supportive bras, and wireless if possible.
  6. Agility training – be careful going from side to side, as your balance is effected a lot when pregnant, so keep safe by staying in straight lines and obviously jumping exercises should cease once you feel your tummy becoming heavier and uncomfortable.
  7. Stretch gently – the hormone relaxin is increased in your body during pregnancy. This hormone causes increased joint laxity which may make you more susceptible to injury. Just be careful when stretching, and remember it’s always a “stretch” not a “strain”.
  8. Low blood sugar levels are also common in pregnant women, so make sure you have snacked at least 2 hours before exercising and keep fluids up at all times, before-during-and after a session. Have on hand some fruit or jubes in case you feel light headed.
  9. If ever you feel hot, dizzy, short of breath, have palpitations, blurred vision or continuous headaches stop exercising immediately. If you always feel lower abdominal pain, tightness or cramping, please see your obstetrician.