Pregnancy is a physically demanding time with significant changes happening to your body. Staying and keeping fit in pregnancy provides many benefits:
- Improved posture, circulation, mood, energy levels and sleep
- Reduction in muscle tension, backache, constipation and swelling
- Helping you adapt to the changes in your weight and body shape
- Preparing your body for labour and motherhood with increased endurance and strength
- Assists with faster recovery after birth with strengthened core and pelvic floor muscles.
During pregnancy, exercise shouldn’t be arduous and it is more important to focus on exercising effectively to avoid discomfort and injury. Thankfully, there is now a fantastic range of classes tailored to keeping fit in pregnancy with instructors specifically trained in this specialised area. I have invited Chartered Physiotherapist and Pilates instructor Madia of Physio4me and personal trainer Yasmine of SayFitnessPT, to share their expert tips for keeping fit in pregnancy, with a focus on safety in each trimester.
Yasmine says – During the early stages of pregnancy there is a release of hormones that induce a relaxation of blood vessels knows as vascular underfill. This causes lower blood pressure and a decrease in the amount of blood flowing in and out of the heart. As a result the client may experience sudden waves of fatigue, nausea, sweating and dizziness. Every woman will experience the first trimester differently and so it’s important that they listen to the body during this crucial stage of pregnancy. If they have adhered to a regular fitness regime pre-pregnancy then they are usually able to continue with their training as normal, however scaling back the intensity when necessary. It is also worth noting that that the hormone relaxin will be present in the body and this will soften the ligaments, cartilage and cervix, thus making the woman more flexible. Try not to force stretches too far and maintain good posture and form when it comes to performing exercises.
Madia says – Try to stay hydrated as much as possible during this exciting but quite exhausting time. Focus on walking for pleasure especially if you have been advised to reduce your previous exercise regime at this stay.
Try to get into good habits like sitting down to put shoes and socks and avoid one leg standing. Not only better for your expanding pelvis but also great if your feeling nauseas or sickness.
Madia says – This trimester is a great to time to really focus on your posture and alignment as your body start to change shape. An excellent exercise to do is the Clam, as it works your gluteus aka Bum! a big muscle with such important role in posture and looking after your back. Another extremely important and crucial exercise to learn is pelvic floor exercises. Once perfected this will be life changing in stopping you going toilet all day/night long plus will help baby stay well supported.
Yasmine says – Blood pressure and blood volume will normalise during this period, so continuing on with low-impact aerobic exercise and light weight-bearing exercise is considered safe. With regards to resistance-based exercises and weight training, it is advisable to seek guidance from a pre/post natal specialist Personal Trainer first, particularly if you’re unsure about technique or whether it is safe to carry out certain exercises when pregnant. Relaxin levels peak in the second trimester, which soften the abdominal muscles and relax the pelvic floor muscles, which is why contact sports should be avoided and any exercises that put pressure on the pelvis.
Yasmine says – By the end of the pregnancy blood volume will have increased by 30-50% and the mother may experience slightly elevated blood pressure. As heart rate monitoring is not very reliable at this stage it is worth ensuring that all exercises are kept at low-impact level, avoiding weights and heavy cardiovascular exercise. Light cardio such as going for walks, practising breath work and focusing on pelvic floor exercises can help improve circulation, reduce swelling and leg cramps, reduce labour pain and reduce the risk of lower back pain post-birth.
Madia says – Avoid exercising on your back as you draw into your finial trimester to avoid disturbing blood flow to the baby. Try side lying positions as a alternative. Arm opening whilst lying on your side is fab to keep your neck, upper back and ribs mobile, especially for those with a desk job. Plus as your chest starts to get heavy with milk these are truly lovely!
Yasmine – Say Fitness Personal Training
Tel: 07789 434 193
For tips and advice on health and fitness, read her blog here.
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Madia – Physio4me has been a Chartered physiotherapist for near 12 years and a new mum to her 3rd child. Madia focuses on wellbeing for pregnant and beyond ladies in south london through Physio for aches, Pilates for strength and massage for me time! She is active on social media as @Physio4meuk
Jayne Russell has over twenty years of experience as a pre’ and postnatal massage and nutritional therapist and is the founder of Nom Nom – award winning, certified organic pregnancy and baby skincare. Sign up for your free skincare guide “10 Steps to Super Healthy Baby Skin” at www.nomnomskincare.com