Congratulations on your pregnancy! If this is your first child, you may be feeling overwhelmed by all the ‘rules’ surrounding your baby. Remembering what you can and can’t eat, skipping social events where people might be smoking and navigating the conflicting advice on medicines and supplements. If you are a keen gym bunny, you may be feeling anxious about whether or not you can continue to work out.
Dust off Those Gym Shoes!
You might be pleased to know that it is perfectly safe to exercise throughout your pregnancy. If you run every day, for example, carry on doing this for as long as is comfortably possible. You will likely find you become slower as the nine months progress and a full-on marathon is probably out of the question. However, keeping up some kind of active lifestyle will help to maintain your mental health and make it easier for you to get back into fitness once you have been given the all-clear after giving birth.
In fact, it is thought that active mothers tend to have shorter and less complicated labours. This might be all the motivation you need to keep moving! Exercise can have a positive effect on your pregnancy too, helping to reduce your risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia. Swimming, in particular, is fantastic for expectant mothers, as it reduces pressure on the body and can help improve circulation.
What Should You Avoid?
Despite the many benefits of exercise, there are certain things you should avoid while you are expecting. Certain yoga moves are not recommended, for example, any positions where you are lying on your back (after 16 weeks) or any back bends. If you do choose to do yoga when you are pregnant, it is a good idea to join a pre-natal class, where the instructor is able to tailor moves to your changing body.
When it comes to strength training, it is important that you work at your pre-pregnancy level or lower. So, if you haven’t performed a set of press ups before, pregnancy is not a great time to try. If it has made up part of your regular routine for a long time, however, then carry on as you were, modifying exercises for easier/pre natal versions as your pregnancy progresses – just don’t try and attempt a new personal best!
Of course, high-impact sports should be avoided, as should deep water activities such as scuba diving. It is probably best to leave intense physical challenges till after the baby is born too. No climbing Everest just yet!
Contraindications to Exercise
All the above is great advice if you are having a straightforward pregnancy, but there are certain issues that will require you to be more careful with your body. If you have any kind of heart or lung problems, or any cervical issues, it is best to check with your doctor before exercising. Those who are carrying more than one baby may have to speak with their midwife, as well as anyone with a history of premature birthing. If you suffer with any bone disorders, anemia, eating disorders or diabetes, you should also proceed with caution. If in any doubt at all, speak with your midwife who will be able to put your mind at ease. Otherwise, keep moving!