Regular readers will know that I’m a) pregnant and b) love running. I continued running until I was eight months pregnant with both BB and Little B, and have every intention to do the same in my third pregnancy, assuming my body will let me.
This begs the question: what’s safe when it comes to exercise in pregnancy, especially when everyone is different and used to different levels of activity?
When GP and mum-of-two Natalie Michele, who runs the maternity blog Maternity At Home, got in touch and offered to write a guest post on safely exercising while pregnant, I thought it would be great to hear what an expert has to say.
So over to Natalie…
How to exercise safely in pregnancy
Congratulations! If you are reading this article, you are most likely pregnant. Most of us seek advice on the internet about what is and what is not safe to do during pregnancy. One of the most common and talked about topics in this regard is exercising while pregnant.
So what can you really do when you’re pregnant, and what should you avoid? That is what we will try to discern today, so let’s begin with who can and can’t exercise while pregnant.
Who can exercise while pregnant?
If you are currently active and exercise already, there is no reason as to why you cannot continue into your pregnancy. You being active encourages your baby to be active as well. Just make sure you are exercising safely for your baby, which will be covered below.
Who should not be exercising while pregnant?
Here is a simple list of high risk pregnancy symptoms that will prevent you from exercising during pregnancy:
• Heart disease
• Bleeding or spotting
• A weak cervix
If you experience any of these symptoms, visit your physician and cease any exercise immediately.
Safe exercises while pregnant
Now you have seen the small list of people who should not exercise during pregnancy, how about a list of exercises to do while pregnant. Here you go!
• Swimming: Swimming is a great exercise even for those who were not active before pregnancy. It is a great low impact exercise and is great for your swollen ankles and achy joints. Plus while in the water you will feel light as a feather even when pregnant with twins.
• Yoga: This will help to make labour pains shorter and more tolerable. Your back will feel better, and your core will be tighter. Look for a special prenatal class so you know all of the positions that are good for you and baby. Otherwise hot yoga should be avoided and once you hit your second trimester don’t lie on your back anymore.
• Spinning classes: I must say this one surprised me when I found out, but it does make sense. Since you are on a stationary bike, it makes it nearly impossible to fall. Spinning is a great way to boost your heart rate and be gentle on your joints. Bonus: when your belly grows you can adjust the handle bars to grow with it.
• Weight training: Zero excuses for having bad arms when expecting. If you were weight training before baby, then you can continue, although you may need to modify slightly. Stay away from the heavy weights and do not lie on your back. If you did not do weights prior to baby, find another fitness activity in the meantime.
• Power walking: Walking has always been good for you, especially a brisk walk that gets your heart rate up. You are still able to tone muscles, and the best part is that you can do this right up to your delivery. Just do this three times a week, a mile each time.
• Water aerobics: This is not just a water class for senior citizens. It is also a great class for your pregnancy. If you enjoyed aerobics before, you would love the low impact version in the water. Your whole body will be feeling great, and it will give your endorphins a great boost.
• Divide your workouts: The further into your pregnancy you are, the more difficult it can be to do it for 30 minutes. Instead, split it into two 15 minute sessions. This way you are getting your exercise in, but you are not over exerting yourself.
• Jogging: If you were already a runner or jogger, there is no reason as to why you cannot continue to do so during pregnancy. Due to the large bump you are growing it may become more difficult to breathe, so test out lung function and talk while exercising. If you cannot hold a conversation, then you are over exerting yourself. Slow down and do some more stretching instead.
Things to watch out for while exercising
Keep in mind that your body temperature runs higher when pregnant. You will want to avoid exercising outside in the heat during the summertime when pregnant. Sweating profusely, and making your body temperature any higher is bad for you and baby. This is why you need to stay away from saunas and hot tubs as well while pregnant.
Altitude is another worry. If you are at a higher altitude like Denver, Colorado, your air is already thinner. You do not want to exert yourself with thinner air making it more difficult to breathe.
Ultimately, you should always remain sensible. You are carrying another human inside of you so be careful. Eat right, exercise moderately and stay calm. I recommend yoga as the perfect exercise while pregnant. It is gentle and will teach you calm breathing techniques.
Huge thanks to Natalie for writing this post – it’s cleared up lots of questions for me and offered lots of great advice.
Did you or are you currently exercising while pregnant? What was or is your favourite thing to do?