Expert advice: Keep fit safely during pregnancy

If you exercised regularly up until your pregnancy, the chances are you can continue what you’re doing, unless your activity is classified as high intensity. However, if you don’t usually exercise, this is still a great time to start and your baby will definitely thank you for it, although be aware of the changes your body is undergoing. Here are some top tips for staying in shape when expecting from Virgin Active’s Hugh Hanley.

Research shows that training while pregnant has numerous benefits, including: –

  • Greater ability to handle the discomforts of pregnancy and labour.
  • Easier to get back into shape and regain your normal weight after pregnancy.
  • Faster labour, with less likelihood of induction.
  • More positive, healthier feelings about pregnancy.

Training while pregnant helps you to be more prepared for the physical stresses of carrying a baby and labour. However, inappropriate exercise can be harmful for the mother or baby, so be sure to get your doctor or midwife’s approval before beginning an exercise programme.

Top tips for exercising while pregnant

  • Drink plenty of fluids, before, during and after any exercise, and avoid overheating. Be sure to always warm-up and cool down
  • Wear loose fitting clothing, and comfortable non slip supportive shoes.
  • Keep your heart rate under 140 beats per minute
  • Past the first trimester, avoid exercising flat on your back – the weight of your uterus reduces the blood and oxygen flow to your baby.
  • During aerobic exercise, you will find that you have less oxygen available, so lower the intensity of your normal routine.
  • Your metabolism speeds up during pregnancy, so remember to eat a well-balanced diet.
  • Your body produces a hormone called relaxin during pregnancy. This hormone softens joints and ligaments to make the birth process easier, so be careful not to overextend joints that may result in injury
  • Do pelvic floor exercises every day and you’ll help keep your back and spine strong, flatten your tummy post birth, and alleviate the problems with bladder and bowel control that are common after childbirth. ( How to do Pelvic floor exercises below )

Pelvic Floor Exercises

The pelvic floor muscles form a sling-like band that surrounds and forms the base of your vagina, anus and urethra. These muscles also support all your abdominal contents, and your baby will pass through them as he or she is born. Strengthening these muscles is an extremely worthwhile and important activity.

How to do Pelvic floor exercises: –

  1. Gradually tighten the muscles that you use if you want to stop the flow of urine when going to the toilet.
  2. Try to do it without holding your breath, squeezing your buttocks together,
  3. Hold the squeeze for several seconds and then relax slowly.
  4. Now pull the muscles up tight and fast. Then relax. Then tighten them quickly again. Use clenching and opening your fist as a visual tool to help you imagine the movement.

While pregnant you must make sure you listen to your body and if at any time during exercise you feel extremely fatigued, faint, dizzy, lightheaded or clammy, stop exercising and cool down.

The key tip here is that you need to listen to your body and based on what your body’s telling you, figure out a level of activity that works for you.

Most importantly this is a magical time in your life, so enjoy it!

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