How to Keep Exercise Safe for Mum and Baby During Pregnancy
Working with pregnant clients is one of the most rewarding parts of my job as a personal trainer. It feels incredible to be able to support my clients through their pregnancies and enable them to recover after birth.
Having worked with pregnant women throughout my personal training career (I have shared some of their testimonials here) I have become aware of how much misinformation and fear surrounds exercising for a pregnant woman. It can feel impossible to know what is right and safe for you and your baby.
In this blog I am going to talk about how you can make exercise safe for you and your baby with some simple and easy to implement guidance.
As always if you’re unsure of any of the advice you’re given or have any concerns over what is safe and appropriate, please don’t hesitate to get in touch or to contact your health care provider for further support.
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
I know this might sound a bit on the obvious side but hear me out. Nobody knows your body better than you do. If something doesn’t feel right then stop. Simple as that.
There is always a fine line between what is safe for you to do throughout each trimester v’s what actually feels safe and comfortable for you. Just because you can do certain exercises doesn’t mean that you absolutely have to. On the flip side of this, if it feels good, even if you’ve seen or heard other expectant mum’s say that causes them pain or discomfort – you do you.
This is where I encourage my pregnant clients to tune in to their own bodies and tell me what feels good for them. This means each session can be designed for the mum that turns up on the day.
With each trimester comes its own challenges, sickness, aches and pains or just feeling like your bump is getting in the way. It is key that you look at moderating the work you do to reflect each stage in your pregnancy.
You want to make sure that you’re not utilising all the energy you have on a workout.
In the first trimester sickness and fatigue might have you feeling completely wiped out before you've even put on your gym gear. If this is the case, slow things down and look at gentle exercise such as walking, pilates or yoga.
In the second trimester you're adapting to bump getting bigger which changes your centre of gravity, balance and coordination. In this phase you may want to take out exercises that make you feel unsteady. This may also be a time where certain exercises cause doming of your abdominal muscles. This is common in pregnancy and something you'll be able to see happening during the exercise, in this instance you'll want to stop and find an alternative.
In the third trimester, you want to focus on good form, pain relief and making sure you and your body feels good after every workout. Increased levels of testosterone in the third trimester can make this a great time for controlled strength training. If this is new to you, make sure you invest in a trainer to keep things safe.
Remember that your energy levels are going to fluctuate throughout your pregnancy and it is key to work with your body and not against it.
WORK WITH A QUALIFIED PT
Not every personal trainer is qualified to work with women throughout pregnancy so have a look around before you make any decisions on who to work with. A trainer is going to have a decent understanding of what is safe and anything you can or can’t do during each of your trimesters.
They are also going to be able to keep an eye on you throughout and adapt exercises as they see you week on week to keep things challenging but not dangerous.
A pre- and post-natal PT will also be able to give you stretches and exercises to help alleviate aches and pains and will be able to spot any red flags and any issues they might want to refer you to your midwife or a women’s health physio.
Finding the right trainer for you can be a complete game changer for your pregnancy. Finding someone you connect with and can trust can help boost your confidence and keep you fit and active right up to your due date.
Sips not gulps. Keep a bottle of water with you throughout your exercise and make sure you’re taking regular breaks to take sips throughout the workout. This applies for after your workout/run/class is done too.
Don’t forget to keep an eye on your water intake after you’ve been active.
This might mean you're peeing throughout your workout but we prefer that to a dehydrated mum.
Make sure you’re wearing loose fitting gym gear or layers that you can take off once you start moving. Having a window or a door open so that you’ve got fresh air circulating is also a good idea.
During pregnancy when you’re exercising it is important not to let yourself over heat. Your body is already doing a great deal more work creating another human and so needs your support in regulating your body temperature.
Having cool water to sip, fresh air from an open window and lots of breathable fitness gear will do the trick.
Don’t underestimate the power of nature, fresh air and that all important vitamin D. Exercising outside can be a fantastic option for pregnant women. Same rules apply, wear layers, have water with you and make sure that you take breaks throughout.
If you’re exercising outside, be aware of your surroundings and make sure that you’re dressed appropriately for the weather.
DO WHAT MAKES YOU FEEL GOOD
Don’t fixate too much on what you think you should be doing during pregnancy, instead focus on classes or activities that you enjoy. There are benefits for all types of exercise during pregnancy but if it feels like a huge drag to get it done, what’s the point?
Do things that feel good, that leave you feeling happy and energised. Happy mum = happy baby.
If the idea of an hour’s exercise class feels like too much for you, don’t sweat it. There’s no reason why you can’t break exercises and movement down and get them done throughout the day. This is far less likely to completely exhaust you and means you’re breaking the day up with regular intervals of movement that might help relieve some of those pregnancy aches and pains.
There is no rule book that says the exercise you do has to be in one block. If breaking movement down throughout the day works better in your lifestyle, do that.
Remember that exercise can be hugely beneficial for you during your pregnancy. When I work with pregnant clients we discuss the different ways which they can utilise movement to ensure they’re getting a balance between feeling like they’re getting stronger and fitter and also having an element of relaxation and pain relief.
The key thing is, you can have both.
If you’d like to start an exercise program during your pregnancy or you’re looking to get back into exercise after your baby. Get in touch, or head to my pre and post natal section on my website and let’s have a chat about your options and how you can make use of exercise to benefit both you and your baby.
Want to read more about the benefits of exercising during pregnancy, read my blog Why Exercising Throughout Pregnancy is Good for You and Your Baby.