How you can Exercise while being Pregnant

How you can Exercise while being pregnant!

Today let’s discuss how you can exercise whilst pregnant!

I feel like we could separate woman who are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant into two main categories here.

That is, their first thought around exercise when being pregnant would be either:

  1. Yes! I’m pregnant now I don’t have to exercise anymore or feel bad about not exercising
  2. NOOOO, I need to exercise.

Which stream do you fall into?

Either way both streams may not know exactly what is and what isn’t safe for themselves and bub during this exciting new time!

Today let’s breakdown how exercise can help, how much and what changes we need to make as we progress through the pregnancy.

 

Current Guidelines around pregnancy and exercise

All healthy pregnant women should be encouraged to participate in an accumulation of at least 150-300 minutes of moderate-high intensity exercise, as well as participate in 2 strength training sessions per week during pregnancy.

 

If you’re unsure how to reach these guidelines I’ve broken it down HERE.

 

The main point I want you to take away from these guidelines is that it is safe, in fact research has shown how it can positively benefit both you and the baby!

 

These benefits can range from:

  • Weight management for mother
  • Better birth weight for baby
  • Improved fitness & muscular condition
  • Improved fatigue and stress levels
  • Increased placental volume
  • Decrease in risk factors/medical concerns
  • Reduced labour time and complications
  • Faster recovery postpartum
  • More likely to continue exercise postpartum

 

Now while exercise is recommended during every stage of your pregnancy, it is essential that precautions are taken throughout depending on which trimester you are in.

 

Three Trimesters

 

First = 0-12 weeks

 

Second = 13-26 weeks

 

Third = 27-40 weeks

 

 

1st Trimester Recommendations:

 Eat small, more frequent meals to overcome nausea.

  • Try and get enough vitamins, minerals, nutrients – you will need to eat lots of fruit / vegetables and possibly basic nutrient supplement.
  • 2200 calories / day – this will need to be relative to each person however a good starting point.
  • Plenty of fibre
  • Maintain your hydration levels 2.5-3L
  • Exercise!

 

Now specifically when it comes to exercise it is a good idea to decrease the intensity by 10-20% from pre-pregnancy levels e.g. If you worked out at a 8/10 for your sessions in regards to difficulty try coming to a 6-7 / 10.

Some exercises that are frequently reported to induce dizziness can include:

  • Single leg deadlift
  • Bent over rows
  • Downward dog

 

These are likely due to changes in blood pressure from changing positions (upright to leaning over)

2nd Trimester Recommendations:

  • Your energy levels will be increasing after moving into the 2nd trimester (Woohoo!). The focus should be around hitting majority of our muscle groups such as squats, push ups, lunges and seated / standing rows.

 

  • Eat small, more frequent meals to overcome nausea.
  • Try and get enough vitamins, minerals, nutrients – you will need to eat lots of fruit / vegetables and possibly basic nutrient supplement.
  • 2500 calories / day – this will need to be relative to each person however a good starting point.
  • Plenty of fibre
  • Maintain your hydration levels 2.5-3L
  • Exercise!

 

Movements to start avoiding / reducing:

  • Avoid heavy lifting / carrying of weight / Jumping based activities
  • Avoid supine (laying on your back) exercises
  • Avoid contact sports
  • Avoid prolonged periods of motionless standing

 

3rd Trimester Recommendations:

  • 2500 calories / day
  • Small frequent feedings recommended to prevent heart burn / hernias
  • Exercise!
  • Still maintaining a whole-body approach with our exercise, you may be starting to get uncomfortable.
  • Cardio is still suitable throughout; it may however be a good idea to decrease cardio intensity by another 10-20% – This may look like a gentle walk instead of brisk.

 

Some exercises you may include during this trimester include:

  • Squats to a chair
  • Pelvic floor (such as kegel) exercises.
  • Arm Movements e.g. bicep curls, tricep extension, lat raises
  • Gentle abdominal exercises – Marching on the spot, toe touches
  • Balance exercises – staggering your stance or standing on one leg can be beneficial to maintaining your centre of gravity now your baby is getting big!

 

Movements to start avoiding.

  • Avoid heavy lifting / carrying of weight / Jumping based activities
  • Avoid supine (laying on your back) exercises
  • Avoid contact sports
  • Avoid prolonged periods of motionless standing

 

Overview of exercises:

 Combination of aerobic and strength exercise

  • Aerobic exercises: walking, cycling, rowing, jogging, swimming
  • Resistance training (RT): Should include pregnancy specific exercises e.g. pelvic floor training
  • RT: Aim to complete 8-10 exercises (major muscle groups) for roughly 12-15R – performed w/o fatigue / struggle – This would look like a 60% of your max effort.
  • Correct posture and neutral pelvic alignment should be emphasized

 

 Key things to avoid:

 

  • Laying in supine from 2nd trimester – 16 weeks after gestation
  • Exercises requiring a holding of breath (Valsalva manoeuvres) – Isometrics
  • Exercises that pose high risk e.g. Jumping, changing direction.

 

Precautions – Signs to Terminate exercise:

  • Excessive shortness of breath (SOB)
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness / syncope
  • Headache
  • Abdominal pain particularly in back / pubic area
  • Calf pain / swelling

 

 Musculoskeletal considerations:

Laxity of ligaments

◦ Starts at 10-12 weeks

◦ May increase risk of injury

◦ Postural changes as your body prepares to get ready for the baby!

 

Muscle Groups that become tight

  • Hip flexors
  • Low back
  • Thighs
  • Chest
  • Shoulders
  • Neck

 

Muscle Groups that can become weak:

  • Pelvic floor
  • Upper back
  • Shoulder ext rotators
  • Gluteals
  • Core (trunk)

 

Knowing the stages, what areas are likely to become tight / weak and knowing how to regulate exercise based on how you feel are key attribute’s for successfully exercising safely while being pregnant!

If you are unsure or need assistance in this, feel free to reach out!

Move Right. Live Right.

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