pregnancy and exercise; how should i train while being pregnant?


during pregnancy, all the body’s systems go through drastic shifts and changes to accommodate the changes of pregnancy. Your heart has to work hard, and your whole system has to work hard to accommodate, and this is all without doing anything other than being pregnant.

If only there were something you could do to minimize the common symptoms of pregnancy. Turns out, there is: exercise is one of the most effective cures for the aches and pains of the expecting set. You’ll get a boost in mood, a decrease in many pregnancy symptoms, and a quicker postpartum recovery. And your baby may enjoy a fitter heart, lower BMI, and boost in brain health. The more active and fit you are during pregnancy, the easier it will be for you to adapt to your changing shape and weight gain. It will also help you to cope with labour and get back into shape after the birth.

What does the research say about exercise and pregnancy?

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) suggests that expecting moms get at least 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise per day, most (if not all) days of the week.

The UK Chief Medical Officers’ Physical Activity Guidelines for pregnancy recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week, with no known adverse risks to a pregnant woman.

National NICE – national institute for health and care excellence– guidelines recommend all pregnant women do daily pelvic floor squeeze.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), exercising during pregnancy can lead to a lower incidence of preterm birth, cesarean birth, excessive weight gain, gestational diabetes or hypertensive disorders such as preeclampsia, and lower birth weight.

Should I train while I am pregnant?

in general Working out is safe for pregnant women, The rule of thumb is to Keep up your normal daily physical activity or exercise (sport, running, yoga, dancing, or even walking to the shops and back) for as long as you feel comfortable but speak to your GP or midwife before exercising during pregnancy if you have any of the following:

  • bleeding from the vagina
  • feeling dizzy or faint
  • Known heart problems or lung disease.
  • Known weakness of the cervix or if you’ve had a cervical stitch.
  • a twin or multiple pregnancy.
  • shortness of breath before starting exercise
  • chest pain
  • headache
  • poorly controlled diabetes, seizures or thyroid disease during pregnancy.
  • Anaemia during pregnancy.
  • Bone or joint problems that affect mobility.
  • muscle weakness
  • calf pain or swelling
  • regular painful contractions of the uterus
  • fluid gushing/leaking from the vagina
  • reduced baby movements
  • History of premature labour or any signs of premature labour in your pregnancy.
  • Premature waters breaking.
  • Placenta praevia, which is where the placenta is close to the cervix.
  • Pre-eclampsia.
  • An eating disorder.
  • A body mass index higher than 40 or you are very inactive.
  • A smoking habit where you smoke more than 20 cigarettes a day.

What exercises to avoid during pregnancy?

exercises that have a risk of falling, such as horse riding, downhill skiing, ice hockey, gymnastics and cycling, should only be done with caution. Falls carry a risk of damage to your baby.

High-intensity interval training definitely isn’t for every expecting woman. The workouts, which involve more hardcore moves to get your heart rate up followed by periods of rest, are simply too intense to begin for the first time when you’re expecting.

As with any workout, you want to avoid pain, so notice how your body is feeling each day. Some movements may cause pelvis or lower back pain in pregnancy, so you’ll want to avoid those. Do not exhaust yourself especially in hot weather. You may need to slow down as your pregnancy progresses or if your maternity team advises you to. If in doubt, consult your maternity team. Also Skip the saunas, steam rooms or hot tubs, since anything that raises a mom’s temperature more than 1.5 degrees F is a no-go. If temperatures soar, keep your workouts inside. And always stay in an air-conditioned environment for prolongued workout sessions.

Also Stop exercising if you have calf pain or swelling or muscle weakness affecting balance. Serious signs that necessitate a call to the practitioner include unusual pain anywhere (from your hips to your head), a cramp that doesn’t go away when you stop, regular painful contractions, chest pain, very rapid heartbeat, difficulty walking, a sudden headache, dizziness/lightheadedness, increased swelling, bleeding, or a reduction in fetal movement after week 28.

you should also avoid:

heavy weight lifting and crossfit which encourages the use of lifting heavy weights in a timed circuit

circuit classes using bar bells and fast movements and exercises that use heavy bar bells behind your neck after 12 weeks

deadlifts, clean and press, and upright rows, as there is a risk of the bar touching the baby bump. these exercises need control correct technique, correct knee and shoulder alignment, but in pregnancy this is difficult

weighted sit-up after 12 weeks and abdominal rotation machine.

also keep in mind these tips:

Do not lift weights while lying supine(on your back) After sixteen weeks as it can press on a major vein(vena cava). it can make you feel dizzy, lightheaded and could limit your baby’s oxygen supply

do not exercise at heights over 2,500m above sea level – this is because you and your baby are at risk of altitude sickness

do not take part in contact sports where there’s a risk of being hit, such as kickboxing, judo or squash

as your pregnancy progresses into the second trimester, it might be best to take a seat to lift weights. Standing for too long during a workout could cause blood to pool in your legs and make it more difficult to keep good posture as your bump will alter your centre of gravity.

Benefits of exercise during pregnancy

Strengthening your muscles will help you to carry the added weight of pregnancy, ease back ache and strengthen your joints, in turn helping to reduce the aches and pains of the baby growing. as mentioned Your body is changing rapidly, so you want to be sure your workout is beneficial and supports these adaptations.

Strong upper legs, glutes and back muscles will really help support your bump in addition to your abdominals, a strong upper back and chest help to support the breasts as they grow and all the feeding and holding that’s involved post-birth, too.

Regular exercise during pregnancy can do the following:

  • Help to reduce high blood pressure.
  • Help to reduce the risk of diabetes. For women who have gestational diabetes, exercise may help to control it.
  • Help you to adapt to your changing body shape and maintain a healthy weight during and after pregnancy.
  • Help to reduce the likelihood of varicose veins, swelling in ankles, feet and hands and back pain.
  • Improve your fitness levels.
  • Improve mood, and reduce depression and anxiety.
  • Improve sleep.
  • Lower the risk of pre-eclampsia, very low birth weight and caesarean birth.
  • Improve your body’s ability to cope by shortening the length of labour and improving the likelihood of a straightforward labour and recovery after the birth.

How should I train while I am pregnant?

As a general rule, you should be able to hold a conversation as you exercise when pregnant. If you become breathless as you talk, then you’re probably exercising too strenuously.

If you were not active before you got pregnant, do not suddenly take up strenuous exercise. If you start an aerobic exercise programme (such as running, swimming, cycling or aerobics classes), tell the instructor that you’re pregnant and begin with no more than 15 minutes of continuous exercise, 3 times a week. Increase this gradually to daily 30-minute sessions.

It is suggested you avoid any movements you’re not familiar with, due to the fact that it’s best to have a pre-pregnancy benchmark of what each exercise should feel like before your body began to change.

Drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercise and Wear supportive clothing such as a supportive sports bra or belly band.

Pregnancy and weight lifting

When you get pregnant, you produce a pregnancy hormone called relaxin, which helps soften the ligaments around your joints during pregnancy and prepares your pelvis and cervix for birth. However, relaxin hormone and the resultant effect can make heavy weight training more dangerous as your joints become unstable. So, during pregnancy, don’t try to embark on a strength or power training programme to dramatically increase strength.

Yoga and pregnancy

Prenatal yoga is another ideal workout for moms-to-be: It encourages relaxation, flexibility, focus and deep breathing — all great preparation for the marathon of birth. Look for a class specifically tailored to pregnant women, or ask your regular yoga instructor to modify the poses so they’re safe for you (that usually means avoiding deep back bends as well as full inversions like handstands and headstands because of potential blood pressure issues). Avoid Bikram (hot) yoga, since you need to pass on exercises that heat you up too much.

Pregnancy and breathing

The lungs get increasingly compressed as the baby grows, so knowing how to breathe fully is key. Not only will it help keep her nervous system calm during labor, but it will help keep her blood properly oxygenated, thus giving her more strength and endurance. you can try this for breathing practice: Close the eyes and exhale, knitting the ribs together, drawing the navel back towards the spine as far as possible. When you think you’re done exhaling, squeeze the core muscles together around the spine a little more, and you’ll find there was more air in there. Then, all you have to do is relax all your core muscles and a big inhale will swoosh in without any effort. It may feel like the fullest, deepest breath you’ve had in months.

Pilates and pregnancy

A pregnancy-appropriate Pilates routine focuses mainly on strengthening your core and lengthening your muscles with low- to no-impact, which will help ease backaches and improve your posture as well as your flexibility (and that all comes in handy during labor). Look for a class tailored specifically to pregnant women or let your instructor know you’re expecting to avoid moves that overstretch or otherwise aren’t compatible with pregnancy.

Tai chi and pregnancy

This ancient form of meditation involves slow movements that allow even the least flexible to strengthen their bodies without risk of injury. If you’re comfortable with it and have experience, it’s fine to continue tai chi now. Just look for pregnancy-specific classes or stick to exercises you know well, and be extra cautious with those involving balance.

Scuba diving, Aquanatal and swimming during pregnancy

Swimming and water aerobics may just be the perfect pregnancy workout. Why? In the water, you weigh less than you do on land, so you’ll feel lighter and more agile. A dip in the pool may also help relieve nausea, sciatic pain and puffy ankles. And because baby’s floating along with you, it’s gentle on your loosening joints and ligaments (your body’s natural response to pregnancy hormones). Just be careful walking on slippery pool sides, and step or slide into the water rather than diving or jumping in.

Aquanatal classes are aerobic exercise classes that you do in water. It’s another great exercise during pregnancy as it can improve your cardiovascular fitness and muscle tone, and help you relax. The beauty of exercising in the water is that it’ll support your bump, and you’ll have less muscle soreness afterwards and less risk of injury.

Scuba diving is a strong no-no since it Can cause birth defects or fetal compression disease. as your pregnancy progresses, your center of gravity will likely be off too. All that means the impact of diving isn’t worth the potential risk. Your growing baby isn’t equipped to handle the bubbles that form inside the body when you quickly change altitudes under the pressure of the water.

Pregnancy and aerobic training

Low-impact aerobics and dance workout classes like Zumba are a great way to increase your heart rate and get the endorphins flowing if you’re a newbie exerciser. As your abdomen expands, avoid any activities that require careful balance. If you’re an experienced athlete, listen to your body, avoid jumping or high-impact movements, and never exercise to the point of exhaustion. If you’re new to exercise, opt for the water version of aerobics, which is ideal for the expecting set.

Both ellipticals and stair climbers are good bets during pregnancy. Adjust speed, incline and tension to a level that’s comfortable for you. Keep in mind that as your pregnancy progresses, you may have a harder time with resistance (or not; listen to your body) and need to pay closer attention to where you step to avoid stumbles.

Indoor cycling also can be great exercise, as it lets you pedal at your own pace without the risk of falling or putting pressure on your ankle and knee joints.

Pregnancy and ab exercises

As your baby gets bigger, you may find that the hollow in your lower back increases and this can give you backache. These exercises strengthen stomach (abdominal) muscles and may ease backache, which can be a problem in pregnancy:

  • start in a box position (on all 4s) with knees under hips, hands under shoulders, with fingers facing forward and abdominals lifted to keep your back straight
  • pull in your stomach muscles and raise your back up towards the ceiling, curling your trunk and allowing your head to relax gently forward. Do not let your elbows lock
  • hold for a few seconds then slowly return to the box position
  • take care not to hollow your back: it should always return to a straight/neutral position
  • do this slowly and rhythmically 10 times, making your muscles work hard and moving your back carefully
  • only move your back as far as you can comfortably

Pregnancy and pelvic floor

A strong, flexible pelvic floor is so important for all pregnant women as it can help prevent and treat bladder leaks, bowel leaks, pelvic organ prolapse, and improve sexual function.

The pelvic floor is situated at the bottom of – and is the most important part of – our core. A strong one means a strong core which means you’ll be able to lift heavier weights more safely.

If your pelvic floor muscles are weak, you may find that you leak urine when you cough, sneeze or strain. This is quite common, and there is no reason to feel embarrassed. It’s known as stress incontinence and it can continue after pregnancy.

You can strengthen these muscles by doing pelvic floor exercises. This helps to reduce or avoid stress incontinence after pregnancy. All pregnant women should do pelvic floor exercises, even if you’re young and not suffering from stress incontinence now.

How to do pelvic floor exercises?
  • close up your bottom, as if you’re trying to stop yourself going to the toilet
  • at the same time, draw in your vagina as if you’re gripping a tampon, and your urethra as if to stop the flow of urine
  • at first, do this exercise quickly, tightening and releasing the muscles immediately
  • then do it slowly, holding the contractions for as long as you can before you relax: try to count to 10
  • try to do 3 sets of 8 squeezes every day: to help you remember, you could do a set at each meal

As well as these exercises, practice tightening the pelvic floor muscles before and during coughing and sneezing.

Diastasis recti and pregnancy

Diastasis recti (separation of the rectus abdominal muscles) is a concern for women during this time, and it will show up as a bulge that runs down the midline of your abdomen. in order to combat this, you need to do this exercise:

  • Lie on your back with a pillow under your head and shoulders. Knees are bent, and feet are flat on the floor.
  • Use a crib or twin sheet and roll it so it’s about 3 to 4 inches wide, and place it on your lower back (above your pelvis and below your ribs).
  • Grab the sheet and cross it once over your abdomen. Then, grasp the sides, and the sheet should form an X as you pull each side.
  • Take a deep breath in to prepare, then press your back flat into the floor as you raise your head and shoulders off of the pillow. During this motion, you are gently “hugging” the sheet around your abdomen to support your abs.
  • Inhale lower, and repeat 10 to 20 times. If your neck or shoulders hurt, start at 10 and work your way up.
  • Do this 2 times a day.