What are the biggest lessons I have learnt about pregnancy and exercise?
- Pregnancy and birth are the biggest physical and hormonal loads that the body will go through in its entire lifetime.
- Pregnancy is about listening, preparing & planning. Listening to your body, preparing by training your physical & mental state and then visualise the main event. Like any main event in our lives we have phases of physical and mental preparation. Planning for this individually is essential for our best outcome. The busier our lives our the more important this plan becomes. For example:
- How often, where and when can I access pre-natal exercise classes?
- When will I schedule in my walks every day?
- What are my options on the days I am tired? DO I have a good online guided breath session?
- Don’t ignore pain treat it by seeking advice from a physiotherapist so I can continue exercise.
- Should I be stretching?
- Sometimes its best to rest.
- ALL exercise will eventually need to be modified.
- Prepare to do home sessions: I found limited prenatal class options available in the time period I had. Often the classes clashed with my schedules so after 17 weeks when I had to stop going to normal classes I really relied on home sessions to continue my fitness plan.
How much exercise should you plan to do during pregnancy?
- Pregnancy goal = 30 mins activity every day (looks different every day)
- Intensity will differ depending on level of pre-pregnancy fitness
What type of exercise is important during pregnancy?
- Exercises that help our mental preparation and exercise that help our physical preparation are both important.
- Mentally it can be tough to want to exercise throughout pregnancy. Certain exercise can help with boosting energy levels and not flattening them.
- Prenatal yoga
- Mindfulness & Mediation with breathing exercises
- Smart walks (3 x 10 mins instead of 30 mins total)
- Water submersion to give weightlessness effect can do wonders
- Pregnancy Massage – home self release program
- Pelvic floor contractions
- Prenatal pilates for inner core and postural strength (new posture), glut strength, inner thigh and leg
- Yoga – dynamic postures for flexibility
- Swimming – all levels of fitness
- Walking – easy to vary the intensity on this
- Cross trainer and stationary bike sessions
- Weights (under loads that are safe and only if had prior training)
- Running is a possibility – another discussion!
- Boxing – up to 28 weeks unless very trained
What should you avoid? Thoughts on running in pregnancy?
- There are also recommendations based on what is SAFE for the changing body and what is not.
- The body physically changes, the pelvis moves and shifts, the rib cage expands, muscles like the abdominals are stretched to maximal capacity and therefore no longer help keep us upright, organs reorganise and blood vessels loose tone. Therefore certain things are not safe.
NO’s (mostly apply after 17 weeks)
- abdominal / core work
- exercise lying on your back (support your head)
- Excessive stretching if you are already super flexible
- exercise in the heat or althitude (blood being shunted away from the uterus)
- Running is optional and self selected however one needs to consider pelvic floor stress. Is it affecting them?
- I ran up until 26 weeks in my first pregnancy however in the second I stopped due to discomfort week 6-7.
Subsequent pregnancies. Do you stick to the same pregnancy fitness plan in the first and second pregnancy?
No – you need to re-evaluate and not try and do the same as the first time. Biggest key recognising the difference in lifestyle and physical state. Listening to what your body needs and being realistic on the new plan.
Factors I had to consider in my PLAN 2; I had less time so I needed to be more efficient, tissues were weaker and therefore strength would be a priority rather than cardio.
The first one I still pushed my heart rate, I had focus on keeping cardio fit and not as much strength.
- 30mins activity per day which didn’t include running;
- Pelvic floor maintenance daily
- Strength for legs (home circuits, yoga & pilates
- 2-3 times per week flexibility maintenance
- MENTAL meditation and breathing, basic stretches and get in the water once per week
What equipment did you need to these home routines properly?
- yoga blocks x 2
- bolster / roller
- stretching strap
- Loop band
- power band
- pilates ball