During pregnancy, there are many benefits that can be experienced through regular exercise. Exercising when you are pregnant can help to keep your heart strong, strengthens your body and muscles and it can also help to relieve the basic discomforts of pregnancy — from morning sickness to constipation to achy legs and backs. It also allows for a more restful night’s sleep, increases strength and stamina which are very handy when in labour, as well as having a positive effect on your mood and general state of mind. Studies show that the earlier in pregnancy a woman gets regular exercise, the more comfortable she is likely to feel throughout the nine months. Your baby will also thank you for it!
No matter what your particular exercise regime may be, keep in mind the basic rules for working out during pregnancy. The following is a list of things to consider when keeping up activities as your baby grows larger and larger.
Please Note: If exercise is new to you, always get clearance from your doctor before beginning any type of new activity whilst pregnant.
Stay in the Safe Zone of Heart Rate and Body Temperature
If you have exercised regularly up until your pregnancy, the chances are you can continue doing what you’ve been doing prior to falling pregnant, unless your activity or pregnancy is classified as “high risk.” If you haven’t previously exercised, this is still a great time to start really gentle movement and exercise. But, you need to listen to your body and the changes it is undergoing.
Keep your body temperature at a nice normal level whilst you are exercising to ensure you are not overheating as this can lead to exhaustion and other problems. If you start to feel too hot, you feel really out of breath and or your heart rate gets too high (above 140bpm), rest and rehydrate!
A little miracle is growing inside you and as a response, your body does an amazing job of increasing your blood volume to ensure there is enough for both mum and bub. When you exercise, your muscles require more blood and oxygen to allow them to function at an increased rate, so you must be aware of shortness of breath and other signs of working too hard. That little person in your belly also needs lots of blood and oxygen and should always remain the priority. Use “THE TALK TEST” as a guide to finding a nice exercise intensity, while maintaining a heart rate that is great for both yours and your bubbas wellbeing.
TALK TEST- You should be able to carry on a normal conversation while exercising
Please Note: If at any time during exercise you feel extremely fatigued, faint, dizzy, lightheaded or clammy, stop exercising immediately and cool down. If it persists, see your doctor.
Listen to Your Body!
Throughout your pregnancy, your body is constantly undergoing changes. Your body knows what it can and can’t handle, so tune in and listen. If something doesn’t feel right stop that movement straight away and swap it for another movement.
Always Warm Up and Cool Down
It’s always best to prepare your body for the exercise it’s about to undertake. Go slowly through a warm up to prepare your muscles and joints for the work ahead. A Warm up and warm down will allow for your heart rate to slowly increase and decrease. It only needs to be 3-5 mins at the beginning and end of your exercise program.
Rest and Enjoy Your Pregnancy
Your pregnancy is not a time that you should be looking to break world records, running the fastest you can or lifting the heaviest weights possible. It is a time where you are looking after the health and wellbeing of yourself and your baby!
Rest when your body needs to rest! It’s ok if you miss a day at the gym, or you need to take an extra 20 min nap. Your body is this amazing place that is constantly undergoing changes and the miracle of growing a human! How awesome is that!
The Benefits of Stretching
Gentle stretching throughout pregnancy can help keep your aches and pains at bay. It can also help to keep your muscles relaxed as you lead into labour. Incorporate some gentle stretching into your exercise regime at the end of the workout. Ensure to avoid any stretches that compress or limit circulation to the belly.
- Stretching loosens any stiff or sore muscles
- Helps you to feel relaxed
- Allows you to find time for yourself and connect with your bubba
Please note: During pregnancy, your body produces a hormone called relaxin to help prepare for labour, this hormone softens joints and ligaments to make the birthing process easier, so ensure you are not overextending joints or muscles as it could lead to injury.