Pregnancy Exercises – How To Stay Fit & Healthy While Pregnant
We are often asked whether it’s a good idea to continue exercise while pregnant or if your fitness routines are best left on the sideline until after the main event.
Pregnancy is in fact the perfect time to maintain or establish healthy lifestyle choices. So whether you currently have a workout plan or not, you can use your time during pregnancy to form good habits that will benefit both you and your baby well into the future.
Some well-known benefits of exercise:
- Improved heart, lung and blood vessel health
- Improved posture
- Increased muscle strength
- Reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and
- Maintenance of a healthy body weight.
Pregnant women can still reap these benefits of regular exercise and by making some small adjustments to your regular exercise as your progress through the trimesters; you too can reap these benefits during your pregnancy.
Additional benefits of exercising during pregnancy
In addition to the regular benefits of exercise above, exercising while pregnant also help you with:
- Improved sleep
- Preparation of the body for pregnancy and labour.
It is important that due consideration is given to the changes and growth taking place in your body during pregnancy. The exercises must be specifically tailored to your unique needs during pregnancy.
You should also speak with your obstetrician before undergoing any exercise while pregnant to make sure there are no circumstances or health concerns that may affect your pregnancy.
Mums In Motion classes for pregnant women
At Back In Motion, our Mums In Motion® classes are run exclusively for pregnant women.
Our Physiotherapists have a thorough understanding of the changes occurring in your body, and have structured these specialised classes accordingly.
Mums In Motion® classes will provide you with an exercise environment that is safe, effective and enjoyable. Also by increasing your cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength levels you will also ensure that you’re as prepared as possible for your labour.
Pregnancy is a time of significant growth and change, many women can experience aches and pains. Women most commonly present to see Physiotherapists with pain in the low back, upper thorax, pelvis, buttock or wrists.
Before you begin Mums In Motion® classes you will undergo an initial assessment to ensure you are safe to exercise in a class environment.
In order to realise why your exercise regime needs to be modified during pregnancy, it is important to understand the following changes that occur during pregnancy:
First trimester (0-13 weeks)
In spite of the major developments occurring, many women are not aware that they are pregnant for the first 4 weeks. A common early symptom of pregnancy is morning sickness, which may also occur during the day or evening. It is believed that hormonal changes lead to nausea.
Fatigue and increased urinary frequency are also commonly reported during the first trimester. Relaxin, progesterones and other pregnancy hormones are released. These hormones have many roles including increasing blood flow to the womb, growth and development of the womb, placenta and baby, and relaxation of the joints and ligaments.
Second trimester (14-26 weeks)
Between the middle and the end of the second trimester you may start to feel your baby’s first movements. Resolution of nausea, and improvements in energy levels are usually experienced during this time.
The motility along the large intestine is slowed during pregnancy, which can lead to constipation. As your abdomen starts to grow changes in your spinal posture, and your body’s centre of gravity are expected. The low and mid back curves are often exaggerated.
Third trimester (27-40 weeks)
This trimester is characterised by physical growth of your baby, and therefore growth of your stomach! Braxton Hicks contractions, which involve tightening of the muscles around the uterus, are often felt.
These contractions are not usually uncomfortable, and assist in preparing your body for labour. The size of your baby at this stage can cause upward displacement of your diaphragm (breathing muscle), which can lead to breathlessness when you exert yourself.
Pregnancy is an exciting time full of changes to your body. Continuing to exercise while pregnant by joining in Mums In Motion® classes will prepare you well to care for a newborn baby, and kick start your physical recovery after labour.
You will need to carry your new baby everywhere, along with a nappy bag and other necessary baby related accessories. Maintaining your muscle strength as much as possible during pregnancy will make all of the lifting and carrying much easier, as well as potentially preventing injuries from occurring.
Rachel Schroder - Physiotherapist, Back In Motion Clayton
Rachel completed a Bachelor of physiotherapy at Charles Sturt University in Albury in 2010, and has spent three years working in a wide range of areas in the country and metropolitan hospital system before moving into private practice. Rachel is passionate about equipping clients with the skills and knowledge to gain long term improvement in their symptoms. Since graduating Rachel has done courses on the hip & pelvis, spine, Clinical Exercise, dry needling, falls and balance, hydrotherapy and neurological/stroke rehabilitation.