It’s an important time in a woman’s life to be conceiving a child, and naturally, many of us want to stay in shape while also keeping our baby safe. A lot can happen during those nine months, so it helps to know how exercise fits into the equation.
The number one question most women ask once they get pregnant is, can I still work out?
Now, with every woman, it’s going to be different. There are a lot of factors to consider with each situation - were they active before becoming pregnant, do they have any pre-existing medical conditions that could complicate things, or are there any physical complications that could put the developing child at risk? These are all very important considerations that need to be discussed and evaluated by a midwife/doctor, so it’s important to get a full medical evaluation before committing to any exercise programs.
Your midwife/doctor will be able to help you determine whether or not exercise is appropriate, and establish the proper guidelines tailored to your unique experience of pregnancy.
Once you’re in the clear to exercise, here are some guidelines to follow through:
Stick to low-impact exercises that don’t involve a lot of plyometric jumps or explosive exercises as there could be a risk of falling. Choose exercises which work the entire body, like the pendulum swing, excellent for building a nice butt while also providing you with some cardio and conditioning.
I also recommend checking the low-impact workouts on my website, which are great, effective alternatives to my normal routines. Even if you are a beginner or have worked out with me before, you can still do them once you’ve obtained permission from your doctor. I am also excited to be adding a new '👼🏻Pre and Post Natal Zone👼🏻’ to the website and hope to have this available in the next few weeks.
Other activities you can engage in include walking, swimming, stationary cycling, and prenatal yoga, pilates and strength training exercises.
Avoid doing any sports such as soccer, basketball, football, etc, or activities with a high risk of falling, which include skiing, surfing, off-road cycling, gymnastics, or horse riding. skydiving, hiking in rocky terrain and scuba diving.
Do not do any exercises in hot environments, like Hot Yoga
Avoid exercises that require you to lie flat on your stomach and back after your first trimester.
Be sure to practice proper recovery and relaxation after working out; avoid overtraining or taking exercise to any extremes.
Remember to stay hydrated and take as many breaks as you can if needed
How do you know if your exercise program is working against you during pregnancy?
First, listen to your body, always. This is especially important when you are pregnant, as you not only putting yourself at risk, but also your baby. Next, stop immediately and call your midwife/doctor if any of these things occur:
🙅🏽♀️Headaches, dizziness, or feeling lightheaded
🙅🏽♀️A decrease or stop in fetal movement
🙅🏽♀️Pain or swelling in the calves
🙅🏽♀️Chest pain and rapid or uneven heartbeat
🙅🏽♀️Uterine contractions that continue after resting
🙅🏽♀️Regular, painful contractions
🙅🏽♀️Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
🙅🏽♀️Fluid leaking from the vagina
🙅🏽♀️Weakness in the muscles that affect your balance
🙅🏽♀️Pain in the lower back
Even though there are things to look out for and avoid during pregnancy, you can still enjoy the benefits of regular exercise. There are real benefits from remaining active during this time. By choosing to maintain some level of fitness and exercise, you actually help to prepare your body for some of the physical challenges that come from being pregnant. You’ll also improve your sleep, give your mood a boost, stay energised, maintain or promote more strength, endurance and even a bit of muscle, and prevent excessive weight gain. Another possible benefit is cutting down the risk of developing gestational diabetes, which is a common complication from pregnancy.
So yes, it is possible to keep a workout schedule and stay active during pregnancy within reason. You will have to make a few adjustments and avoid certain things for a short while, but in the end, you’ll be doing yourself and your body and baby a service by choosing to remain healthy through regular exercise.