Mummy Trainer's Top Twenty Pregnancy Exercise Tips
Exercising during your pregnancy has many benefits, and not just for you but for baby too!
Even though you may want to exercise during this period, mums-to-be can often find that there is so much conflicting advice about which exercise is safe to do. Some friends and family are telling you to put your feet up and rest and you may find that you end up doing just that!
Well I’m here to give you some great advice on exercising during your pregnancy. Follow these tips to enjoy exercising safely during your pregnancy and to ultimately get fit for birth!
1. Cardio vs Strength Exercise-What is the best? The benefits of weights based strength training outweigh the benefits of just sticking with a walking program during pregnancy. Strength training increases lean muscle tissue and fat burning hormones. And due to a higher heart rate lifting weights you still get a cardiovascular benefit from a specific strength session.
2. Avoid all Exercises that will increase a Diastasis (that’s pregnancy abdominal muscle separation if you have not heard the term before). A quick guide of exercises to avoid are:- crunches, Pilates 100’s and table tops, frontal planks, twisting movement. For more information have a look at my guides on preventing Diastasis During Pregnancy.
3. You don’t have to purchase a heart-rate monitor to exercise safely during your pregnancy. Listening to your own body is a much better guide. We are all different and heart rates vary quite considerably during pregnancy. By using your own body as a guide you will stay in your aerobic (safe) zone which is approx. 70-80% intensity. For more information on the correct intensity to exercise at during pregnancy check out my video link.
4. Reduce your pre-pregnancy exercise duration by 10% during the first trimester, approx. 15-20% Second Trimester and approx. 30%-40% in the last Trimester. Everyone is different so listen to your body!
5. If you are managing to exercise regularly, try to make sure you have a rest week every 6 weeks. This ensures that your body adapts and recovers. As a rule of thumb, for each hour you exercise have the equivalent rest
6. Wear exercise gear that is comfortable; clothing that is too tight or restrictive will increase abdominal discomfort.
7. Keeping hydrated during pregnancy is very important: Aim to consume 2 litres of water a day, and add an extra 750mls for each hour you exercise.
8. Women who exercise during pregnancy tend not to show until 20+ weeks especially with first pregnancies. This is completely normal, so ignore comments from others suggesting you are too small!
9. Ensure you include corrective exercise at each stage during your pregnancy to maintain good pregnancy posture. Good alignment will help you carry your pregnancy much more efficiently and give your baby more room to grow and move.
10. It’s a good idea not to start anything new, so just because you have read that swimming is good for pregnant women, if you have never swam before then its not a good time to start.
11. If you feel any pain during your exercise you need to stop, especially if in your abdomen or pelvis. If pain continues, talk with your lead maternity care provider immediately.
12. If any bleeding, nausea, or vomiting occurs you need to stop and you should not exercise again until you are cleared to do so
13. No KEGELS! Yes thats right continuos squeezes and holding of this muscle can over strengthen the muscle too much causing a muscle imbalance. For optimal strength and to prepare your pelvic floor muscle for birth and beyond then addressing alignment and performing squats are much more beneficial: READ MORE INFORMATION- No Kegels!
14. Do not participate in any contact sports after 14 weeks or exercise if labor has started and been stopped with medication before 34 weeks.15. Always make sure the conditions in which you are exercising are safe: avoid uneven terrain, wet floors, rooms that are too hot.
16. Whoever you choose to follow to help with your exercise program be that a personal trainer or a yoga instructor make sure that they have many years of experience training pregnant clients and have been through the journey themselves. Try to avoid following large fan based groups on media sites that have very little experience and qualifications.
17. Always be in contact, don’t go anywhere without your mobile phone, especially after 35 weeks!
18. You can eat within 60mins of exercising during your pregnancy as the intensity you train at is not hard. So if you are hungry before a training session snack on a banana or a handful of nuts.
19. From 30 weeks it can be hard to get your trainers on, I found that my old tri shoes with elastic laces where a godsend so swap your laces for elastic ones so you can just slip them on.
20. Maintaining your Exercise during your entire pregnancy can be hard, so enlist in the help of others if needed to keep you motivated..
Healthy mums have healthy babies. Exercise really is safe for you during your pregnancy and you and your baby will definitely benefit from your efforts.
If you have any more questions or want to follow my specific pregnancy program Fit2BirthMum check out my website http://pregnancyexercise.co.nz
If you feel any pain or discomfort whilst exercising, stop. If pain continues consult you L.M.C or G.P. The information included in this article has been written by Lorraine Scapens: She is not able to provide you with medical advice, information is used as guide. You cannot hold Lorraine liable in any way for any injuries that may occur whilst training.
This is a frequent conversation with my pre and postnatal gals.
Question: When can I start running again?
Answer: Probably (read: definitely) not after your 6-week check-up when your doctor "clears" you for all exercise.
(Side note, but docs, can you please use different wording with your postnatal clients when it comes to this? Running is not the same as core activation, breathing, resistance training, etc.)
Postnatal ladies, I need you to be patient with this one, because it will significantly impact your recovery in the short term and health in the long-term. Postnatal exercise is fantastic and I encourage it as soon as you're ready and feeling up for movement. Working on abdominal and pelvic floor activation exercises, retraining your breathing patterns, doing exercises such as squats, lunges, hip thrusts, pulling, and scapular slides are all amazing. They will be extremely helpful in your healing and fat loss journey, if that is a goal of yours.
(Working core control through band resisted squats, to increase activation of glutes)
However, running, and any high impact exercise for that matter, is a completely different story. What your body has undergone during pregnancy, labor and delivery is no joke. I've said it before, and I'll say it again (and probably continue to keep saying it :)). If you think that running is going to be your best bet for getting back to your "pre-pregnancy" weight, or into your jeans, or even get your abs back, it's just simply not going to be. There are much more effective and safe ways for you to do this, I promise you that. Read this post for your best bets if any of the above is what you're striving for.
I understand that you may love to run and I fully support you in getting back to it. But please, keep reading to find out why I need you to wait at least 3 MONTHS to pound the pavement. To be crystal clear, this is with 3 months/12 weeks of structured postnatal specific resistance training (core retraining, glute/back strengthening, breathing exercises), not just 3 months from delivery day.
1). You are mega sleep deprived. You likely do not have the ability to focus on a million things at once right now, which is what running will take when you're getting back into it. Abs bracing, pelvic floor engaged, glutes firing, diaphragmatic breathing, etc. through hundreds and thousands of steps? Sounds exhausting just thinking about it and I got a full 8 hours last night ;)
2). Your new body is unstable right now. Not just because of the changes to muscular strength, but also because the hormone relaxin is at an all time high for first few months postpartum. This is the hormone that made it possible for your body to be able to carry a baby and birth it. It makes your soft tissues (for example, ligaments) more lax and therefore, you are far more susceptible to injury. Especially injury to hips, pubic symphysis, low back, and knees.
3). It is essential to retrain your core and floor. Your core muscles are not ready to support your body through repetitive pounding food strikes. It is a recipe for disaster. Your posture is likely not optimally aligned, especially if you are spending long days breastfeeding and carrying your baby. You probably have some degree of diastasis recti (abdominal separation) and your spine is not well supported. Your pelvic floor might not be functioning at 100% and you could be experiencing incontinence symptoms. You will exacerbate these issues with running.
(Training the abdominals through dead bugs exercises can be a great place to start)
4). Uterine and bladder prolapse are real things to be aware of. I recommend all my ladies go see a pelvic floor physiotherapist to put both our minds at ease. If you are experiencing ANY issues with urinary and/or stress incontinence, see a PFP so they can give you treatment and exercises to help rehab you. If you're having incontinence with sneezing or laughing, or if you are running wearing a pad because you're leaking, just back up and keep training the basics of core/floor healing.
5). Acknowledge you are in recovery mode and start slow. To get back out there, start building up your mileage slowly. Maybe you start your runs with 1 minute + 1 minute walking, and add 30 seconds to a minute on your run time weekly if it feels good. You will need to keep up your strength training routine as your get into a regular schedule of running. Do not let this fall off.
Good luck, ladies!
Keep up to date with changes and updates with newsletter via email . Contests, new articles and much more!