EXERCISING IN PREGNANCY
Along with the physical benefits, exercise has emotional and physiological benefits too. It boosts the release of endorphins, giving you a stronger sense of well-being, better sleep patterns and higher energy levels – all of which will help you to relax and cope with the changes that pregnancy brings.
Fortunately for us, research has progressed so much so in the field of pregnancy and exercise, that it is now known that doing exercise throughout one’s pregnancy, is both beneficial for the mother and baby. There are however, exceptions as to how much and the type of exercise you should be doing.
Our bodies change throughout the 9 months of pregnancy, with the instant arrival of Relaxin which softens our joints to prepare the body to give birth and as the baby inside grows, so do the changes in the posture; the gluts (bum muscles) lengthen and the front hip muscles tighten due to the forward tilting pelvis. The upper back and shoulders also start taking the brunt of the increased weight in front of them so they tighten and become more rounded.
Here at Buggyfit and WaterBumps, we personally avoid working with clients in their 1st trimester – this is the one time we would advise a pregnant lady to cut back on the exercise and just walk. Take it back up again in your 2nd trimester. Vikki Hill (Manager of Buggyfit Bristol) states:
‘I sometimes say that a mum is like an athlete – you need to be fit and strong to cope with giving birth –to be under strain and pressure and using your whole body for hours and hours and then with very little sleep go straight into motherhood!! Giving birth is pure endurance!!’
So we therefore believe that even if you can manage to keep power walking throughout your second trimester, it will give you a head start for the rest of your pregnancy! Those of you who were a regular runner prior to your pregnancy and feel comfortable running – then do, but remember it is NOT about getting fitter, it is about maintaining some fitness. If you push it too hard you will be taking away hydration and nutrients that your baby needs. Similarly, always sip water when exercising even in the winter and even swimming – you can cool down but your baby can’t.
Swimming during pregnancy is also a great way to keep active. Exercise in water is particularly good in pregnancy as this supportive, buoyant environment enables you to exercise safely by reducing the stress on weight-bearing joints, bones and muscles, while also providing the correct support for your growing bump. It can also help improve circulation, increase muscle tone and build stamina. And you’ll love the feeling of weightlessness you get in water as your pregnancy progresses!
If you’ve been a regular swimmer before your pregnancy then you should be able to continue with your usual weekly swims. However, even if you have not previously swum much, swimming is a great and safe way to start exercising and staying fit. Begin slowly and build up the length of your swims gradually, making sure you warm up and cool down and that each session lasts no longer than 30 minutes. If your preferred stroke is breaststroke, you’ll need to make a few changes to ensure any pelvic pain or instability isn’t aggravated – so focus more on lengthening the glide and not ‘whip kicking’ with your legs.
Cycling is another – whether that is cycling out doors or in a spin class, carry on as long as you feel able to, but it is important that you do not overdo those classes, try and stay in the seat rather than stand up on the pedals & be careful with balance as your centre of gravity goes. Avoid starting up as a new runner or cyclist in pregnancy and certainly if you begin to get painful knees, back, hips or legs then stop the higher impact exercise – power walk instead. If you have a smooth pregnancy with no pelvic problems like Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP or as it used to be called SPD) then carry on doing squats, lunges, shoulder, upper back and glut exercises to help towards maintain a better posture for longer & keeping you stronger for being a mum.
If you are still unsure, find a pregnancy class such as WaterBumps, Buggyfit, pilates or yoga rather than carry on with your usual class; a qualified pregnancy & exercise trainer/instructor will know more about what you should or shouldn’t be doing. Most importantly listen to your body!
About WaterBumps and Buggyfit
WaterBumps offers blissful, pool-based, pre and post-natal classes using gentle toning and strengthening exercises, as well as times of relaxation, helping you to cope better with the demands of pregnancy. We can help with aches, pains, swelling, back to back or breach babies. At WaterBumps we offer a complimentary taster class to anybody new enquiring about classes.
Email: [email protected] or call: 01275 400 800 for more information
Buggyfit Bristol offers mums the chance to start exercising again in a safe environment with Vicki Hill who is a specialised Pregnancy & Post Natal Personal Trainer. The classes are for all levels as there are always different exercises offered. It is about exercising in the fresh air, meeting new mums and best of all with your babies.
Email: [email protected] or call: 07747 614 836 for more information