In days gone by expectant mothers were recommended to put their feet up and take it easy. Pregnancy was viewed as if it were a health problem and it was thought that any kind of physical exercise wouldn’t be good for mom-to-be or baby. Today we understand that proper exercise in pregnancy is not only safe and non-harmful for mom and baby, but it is indeed greatly recommended for your own well-being as well as that of your baby.
ACOG (American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) advise that expectant women take a minimum of thirty minutes of physical exercise daily. This can benefit your well-being in many ways:
• Helps minimize backaches, constipation, bloatedness, and swelling
• May aid the prevention of or treat gestational diabetes
• Increases your energy
• Improves your mood
• Improves your posture
• Promotes muscle mass, strength, and stamina
• Helps you sleep better
But before you grab your sneakers ready to hit the gym/studio/track, there are several important things you ought to know, even if you were exercising regularly prior to being pregnant.
1. Speak to your midwife/obstetrician/doctor before starting to exercise. This step is No.1 for a reason and it is vital – I can’t stress enough exactly how essential it is! Exercising in pregnancy is safe and advantageous so long as the exercises are suitable and you have a low risk pregnancy. There are several medical conditions that may impact upon your exercise routine or even prevent you from performing exercises so it is vital that you check with your healthcare provider before you start. Please don’t by pass this step. Even if you think your pregnancy is actually low risk, always check first.
2. Activities to avoid. You might be pleasantly surprised as to what you can do during your pregnancy but there are certain activities that should be definitely avoided.
• Scuba diving or deep sea diving
• Contact sports
• Racket sports like tennis & squash
• Ball sports where there is a risk of contact or being struck with the ball (eg. basketball, baseball, volleyball, soccer, football etc)
• Exercising at altitude
• Water sports for example jet skiing, waterskiing, white water rafting
• Downhill skiing
• Horseback riding
• Ice skating
3. Even if you weren’t exercising prior to your pregnancy you can begin now but start slowly. Now is not the time for you to train for a marathon. Start with a gentle walking program and do some regular pelvic floor and core stability exercises. If you’re unsure about how to start out, seek the advice of a certified pre and post natal fitness instructor.
If you were active before your being pregnant and have a good fitness level already then concentrate on maintaining your fitness rather than attempting to increase it. You will probably need to adjust your program throughout your pregnancy and lower the intensity as your pregnancy progresses.
4. Monitor how hard you are working. There are several ways for you to do this and I suggest using the Talk Test and RPE (rate of perceived exertion). The Talk Test is very simple; whilst performing cardiovascular exercise you should be capable of maintaining a normal conversation. If you find you have to stop mid sentence to take a huge gulp of breath then you’re working too hard. The RPE test is based on a scale of 10; 0 being no exertion whatsoever (being seated & relaxing) and 10 being greatest exertion (trying to keep up with Usain Bolt over a 100m sprint!) In pregnancy you need to avoid working out above level 7.
5. What to Wear Comfort and support are the main factors here. Buy the very best sneakers are able to afford to be sure they give you good support and shock absorption. Wear clothing made from natural fibres to allow your skin to breathe; bamboo is wonderful for wicking moisture from your skin, and wear layers which you can add and remove at the appropriate time. If you are taking part in any cardiovascular exercise it might be advisable to wear two sports bras for added support and comfort.
6. Stay Hydrated: It seems obvious however your body temperature increases in pregnancy and if you’re working out you need to drink regularly to remain well hydrated. I remember all to well how frustrating it can be in early and late pregnancy when you seem to spend substantial amounts of your day (and night) going to the bathroom, but dehydration can be dangerous for you as well as your baby.
These are some basic topics to consider prior to getting into your pregnancy workout. If you would like more in depth information kindly visit www.mypregnancyworkout.com. For pregnancy workout clothing please visit www.thefitwearboutique.co.uk.