It’s always important to lead a healthy lifestyle and exercise regularly, especially when you’re pregnant. However you decide to spend your time exercising, your pregnancy shouldn’t ever get in the way. Here are our top tips for exercising when pregnant.
In fact, research shows that you should be taking part in at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity every week, which can be anything from walking to gardening. Instead, try to take part in exercises that embrace your beautiful baby bump.
With this in mind, UK baby brand Nuby have given their best tips on how stay active during pregnancy – including the best exercises to do.
Tips and Tricks for Exercising When Pregnant
Here are some of the things you should consider before heading to the treadmill or picking up some weights.
Consult your doctor before you start
To make sure you’re ready to start exercising, consult with your doctor and ask for professional advice. If you and your baby and healthy, there shouldn’t be any risks, but it’s always good to check as your body changes.
Let your routine adapt to your changing body
If you don’t feel like you want to exercise as intensely or regularly as you could before you became pregnant, that’s completely fine. It’s no secret that mothers-to-be can feel tired during this time, especially while you’re in your third trimester. So take it easy.
Start slowly and ease yourself into it
Just like anybody else, people that are pregnant should ease themselves into their exercise routine. Try not to head straight into your 30-minute run or full-body workout. Instead, start with shorter sessions while remembering to complete a warm-up.
Wear comfortable clothing
The secret to a successful workout is comfortable clothing. It’s normal for your feet and ankles to swell while you’re pregnant, so you’ll want to wear high-quality trainers if you’re exercising. The same goes for your sports bra and pants, making sure that your breasts and bump are supported.
Exercises that embrace your bump
Some exercises are better suited to people who are pregnant. Whether you’re a novice or an expert, learning these activities can help you stay healthy while embracing your bump.
If running isn’t for you, swimming is perfect if you’re looking for another aerobic exercise. Spending time in the water can help you stay healthy and improve your blood circulation, and it can even ease morning sickness.
There’s nothing to suggest that swimming is bad for you while you’re pregnant. Chlorinated pools aren’t known to harm your baby, but you might want to take a look at the bacteria levels and water temperatures of going into public swimming pools.
First and foremost, running is a great way to exercise while you’re pregnant. There is evidence to show that running can lower your blood pressure and reduce the risk of complications during pregnancy, such as preeclampsia and gestational diabetes.
If you weren’t running before you became a parent-to-be, pregnancy is not the best time to start. And if you were a keen runner before pregnancy, don’t expect to run as fast during pregnancy. The bigger you get, the harder you will find it, so listen to your body and only run at a comfortable pace.
If you’re eager to relax and recharge, yoga might be the perfect form of exercise for you. But it isn’t all stretches and breathing. Yoga can help you tone and build muscle all around your body, including pelvic exercises that can help you to deliver your baby a little easier. You just have to avoid hot yoga and any asanas that involve lying on your back, as this can limit the flow of blood and oxygen to the baby.
What to avoid as your due date approaches
There are a million and one things to think about when you’re pregnant. As well as preparing for your child and collecting all of the newborn essentials you’ll need, think about certain exercises you should avoid as your pregnancy progresses.
Medical professionals advise that you should avoid lying on your back for a long period of time, especially if you’re over 16 weeks pregnant. You should also avoid contact sports, such as kickboxing or rugby and horse riding, and take a break from scuba diving or fitness programmes that take place 2,500m above sea, as this can cause altitude sickness.
These are some of the things to keep in mind if you want to start exercising while you’re pregnant. This is a beautiful time in your life, and although everything around you might be changing, you can still continue to lead your life exactly how you wish to. And if that means meeting with your friends for a weekly Pilates session, so be it.
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Athlete and postnatal fitness expert Shakira Akabusi shares her tips on how to approach exercise after you’ve had a baby.
I’d always been aware that the information available on pre- and postnatal health was lacking, but it wasn’t until I had my son that I realised how limited it really was. According to findings from the Register of Exercise Professionals, only five-and-a-half per cent of fitness professionals are qualified in pre- and postnatal training, and it’s even more difficult to find those who have updated these qualifications in the last five years.
It’s no wonder new mothers are confused about how and when to start exercising. These are my five need-to-know pointers on postnatal fitness:
Exercise and breastfeeding
To date, there has been no scientific evidence to suggest that exercise negatively affects breast milk supply, in fact regular exercise has proven to not only improve blood lipid profiles and insulin response (both vital for good health), but also reduce stress levels and alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety in new mothers. However, it’s important to note that after high-intensity exercise the content of your breast milk may be altered with increased lactic acid build up, although the effects are only short term and will replenish within 90 minutes or so.
On the other hand, breastfeeding can impact our workout routines. The hormone relaxin is produced from around two weeks into pregnancy, right up until five months postpartum and longer for breastfeeding women. Relaxin softens the ligaments to prepare your body for labour, but causes instability of the joints, so it’s vital to work within a comfortable range of motion, particularly when weightlifting and stretching.
My tips for breastfeeding mums
Express and go: If you’re still concerned about the content of your breast milk you may wish to express prior to exercise or schedule a workout after a feed. Also remember to wipe down your breasts as sweat may cling to your skin, making the taste unknown to baby.
Bring in support: If you’re serious about exercise then now is the time to invest in a good sports bra, especially when you begin high-intensity exercises such as jogging.
Stay hydrated: Breast milk contains a high level of water (about 87 per cent) and as such, a mother’s fluid intake is crucial. Always replenish your water stores prior, during and post-exercise.
Reconnecting with your core
Pregnancy and labour can take its toll on your body and for the first few weeks postpartum you want to make sure you give yourself time to recover. I would always advise waiting until your six-week check before committing to a fitness programme, but something you can start on right away is your pelvic floor. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists recommends that if pregnancy and delivery are uncomplicated, a mild exercise programme of walking and pelvic floor exercises may begin immediately. You should work on your pelvic floor throughout your pregnancy, too, as this has been shown to reduce the risk of incontinence.
How to work it correctly
You may wish to begin working on your pelvic floor lying down, building up to a seated and, finally, a standing position. As you begin to develop strength, you can squeeze stronger and for longer. Try to do this approximately three to five times a day for five minutes. In order to test the strength of your pelvic floor muscles, you should be able to stop your urine midstream, however this should only be done occasionally. Continuing with these exercises throughout your life is crucial. These muscles support and stabilise your core, which is the basis for all future abdominal work.
Creating a workout routine that works alongside your new life as a mum should be gradual, making it sustainable and healthy rather than a quick fix. Your body has gone through a dramatic change and your hormones need time to level out.
Alongside pelvic floor exercises, walking is a great way to begin exercising before your six-week check. Then focus on low-impact exercises to mobilise the body, as it can help to reduce the amount of pressure on your ligaments and joints.
If you’re lucky enough to have time to hit the gym, the cross trainer is great machine to slowly raise your heart rate, and swimming is another great alternative.
Diastasis Recti repair
It is imperative to check for Diastasis Recti (separation of the abdominals) before training.
Once you’ve consulted a professional and been given the go-ahead, heel raises and heel slides can be performed by lying on your back on the floor at home.Over time you can progress these exercises to include squats where the core continues to be challenged, gradually increasing the intensity.
Having a workout partner has proven to help sustain a fitness programme, so if you can, buddy up with other new mothers or a friend. And when it comes to staying motivated my biggest tip is to avoid boredom. Trying different forms of exercise such as jogging, swimming, resistance training or dancing is a brilliant way to get your body moving. However, as we all know, new motherhood means it’s not always possible to find time for yourself outside of the house, so get creative with at-home exercise instead.
For example, a kitchen chair, bench or garden stoop are great places for a few decline press-ups, tricep dips or step-ups. I also remember filling my washing basket with shoes and tin cans to use as a weight. Another favourite of mine is using a five-litre bottle of water as a dumbbell – which is equivalent to five kilograms – great for tricep extensions, lateral raises and shoulder presses! There are also plenty of exercises you can do with your little one. I often work out with my son, making fitness a fun game for him while I still get the work completed.
Most importantly, try not to be too strict about your workout routines. Children are unpredictable so if you need to skip exercise one day, just try again tomorrow. The greatest tip to a sustainable fitness programme is to enjoy the process.