Pregnancy is all about change and the importance of an exercise routine plays a crucial role in the health of the mother and the baby. At MOTUS we believe in keeping people active and being pregnant is no excuse. It’s never too late to start an exercise routine even whilst you’re pregnant.
Pregnancy is a huge transformation of your body. You will experience a huge variety of changes as your body expands and adapts to a growing baby, exercise helps to provide a greater sense of control over these changes.
Not only that, it can
- Promote better sleep at night and more energy during the day.
- Helps your mental wellbeing.
- Improve circulation and minimise the effects of varicose vein.
- Stabilise your overall weight gain.
- Enhance the development of the placenta and foetal growth in early pregnancy.
- Minimise the birth defects your child may experience due to diabetes.
- But most importantly – Labour can be like an endurance event, so it makes sense to train for it!! Exercise can build your cardiovascular endurance to last the distance and strength to be able to push when the time is right.
So, what exercise can I do?
There are no hard and fast rules about exercising when you are pregnant. Each woman will be different in what they can and can't do. A Motus physiotherapist can help you to adapt your exercise regime to your pregnancy.
We tend to apply these basic rules
- If you have been doing some form of exercise prior to becoming pregnant, you can usually continue training as usual but it may need to be tailored, so that becomes more moderate especially as you progress through your pregnancy. The aim is to maintain fitness at this level not increase it.
- Regular, moderate activity should be maintained to achieve a healthy weight gain.
- Listen to your body!! It is changing – your body size is increasing, joints are becoming looser and your centre of gravity is altering. This can make your prone to accidents or injuries.
- Work your pelvic floor. Even during your pregnancy as it helps to prevent stress incontinence (involuntary loss of urine when you sneeze, cough, laugh or lift). Here is a link to how your can do these exercises http://physiotherapy.org.nz/assets/Your-health/PNZGuidePelvicFloorv5visual.pdf
- Stop if you experience pain, bleeding or dizziness.
- Avoid contact and extreme sports for obvious reasons.
- Keep hydrated.
- Make sure you have appropriate energy to perform the exercise, otherwise you will be drawing nutrients away from the baby to power your body.
- If you are just starting or haven’t been doing exercise prior to becoming pregnant we recommend.
- Activities that are low-impact or non-weight bearing – such as swimming, walking and cycling.
- Strength training such as Pilates or a light weight gym session. Strong muscles will come in handy during labour and once your baby has arrived.
- Keeping the intensity mild to moderate – This is not the time for no pain no gain. As high heart rates can reduce the blood flow to the baby. The key question we ask is can you hold a conversation with some one? If so you are working at about the right heart rate.
- Aim for 3-4x exercise sessions per week for at least half an hour.
- It is important to exercise within your own comfort zone or ability, if becomes uncomfortable or painful we suggest you stop and discuss it with your Lead Maternity Carer or MOTUS Physiotherapist who understands the changes your body will go through during pregnancy and they can help you to adapt your program to your needs.
Always remember - Anything is better than nothing, and it's good to do some regular exercise if you possibly can.
Here is the IOC consensus statement on exercise during pregnancy. An interesting read.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Brigit Beattie is an advanced physiotherapist at Motus Health. Brigit has just gone on maternity leave, so is in the perfect position to advise on exercise during pregnancy. Good luck Brigit, and we look forward to meeting your little one.