Why exercise during pregnancy is just as important as birth classes.

In the UK around 80% of new mothers attend an antenatal education class however less than 30% attend a pregnancy exercise class. Birth preparation is more than just writing birth plans or packing your hospital bag and a good antenatal exercise class will help to prepare your body for the most important physical challenge of your life.

Would you run a marathon without training?

There are many benefits to exercising during your pregnancy but understandably it can feel daunting working out while you are carrying such a precious cargo.

Whilst it is important to be cautious during pregnancy the majority of exercise is safe during pregnancy as long as you don’t over do it and you listen to your body as it changes over each trimester. The royal college of midwifery recommend medium intensity exercise three times a week however pregnancy is not the time to suddenly take up a new sport or start a drastic fitness regime or exercise for weight loss.

What are the benefits of pregnancy exercise?

* Reduces back pain, constipation, bloating, and swelling

* May help prevent or treat gestational diabetes * Increases your energy * Improves your mood * Improves your posture

* Promotes muscle tone, strength, and endurance

* Helps you sleep better

* Studies have shown exercise during pregnancy can lead to an easier labour.

What exercise are safe during pregnancy?

Generally whatever exercise you were doing before pregnancy you should continue with as long as you feel comfortable and able to do so.

* Swimming is an excellent exercise for pregnancy.

* Walking

* Lifting low weights

* Pregnancy Pilates and Yoga

What exercise should you avoid during pregnancy?

* Activities where falling is more likely

* Exercise that may cause any abdominal trauma, including activities that with jarring motions, contact sports or rapid changes in direction.

* Activities that require extensive jumping, hopping, skipping, or bouncing.

* Intense bursts of exercise followed by long periods of no activity

* Exercise in hot, humid conditions

As your pregnancy progresses you will want to reduce the amount of impact in your workouts to protect your pelvic floor and joints.During pregnancy your body will increase the amount of the hormone relaxin which causes your ligaments to be more flexible than before.

Important things to think about when planning your pregnancy workouts.

* Be sure to wear loose fitting, comfortable clothes, as well as, a good supportive bra.

* Choose well-fitting shoes that are designed for the type of exercise you are doing.

* Exercise on a flat, level surface to prevent injury.

* Eat enough healthy calories to meet the needs of your pregnancy, as well as, your exercise program and be sure to finish eating an hour before you exercise.

* Drink plenty of water before, during and after your workout to avoid dehydration

* After doing floor exercises, get up slowly and gradually to prevent dizziness

You should also discuss your exercise regime regularly with your midwife or consultant to be sure that you have no conditions that would be a contraindication to exercise and most importantly make sure you exercise with a qualified pre and postnatal instructor. Do not feel shy about asking for proof of training, after all you are carrying precious cargo.

Exercise during pregnancy above all else should not be about just maintaining weight but also about maintaining a happy mind. Studies have shown that mothers that exercise during pregnancy are less likely to suffer from postnatal depression so keep sweating and releasing those happy hormones.

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