In days gone by expectant mothers were instructed to put their feet up and take it easy. Pregnancy was viewed as though it were an illness and it was believed that any exercise wouldn't be suitable for mom-to-be or child. Today we understand that suitable training while pregnant isn't only safe and non-harmful for mother and baby, but it is indeed highly recommended for your own health as well as that of your child.
ACOG (American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) recommend that expectant women take at least 30 minutes of physical exercise a day. This can benefit your well-being in many ways:
• Helps minimize backaches, constipation, bloatedness, and puffiness
• May help prevent or treat gestational diabetes
• Increases your energy
• Improves your mood
• Improves your posture
• Promotes muscle tone, strength, and stamina
• Helps you sleep better
Before you grab your sneakers ready to hit the gym/studio/track, there are several essential things you need to know, even though you were working out regularly before being pregnant.
1. Speak to your midwife/obstetrician/doctor before you begin to physical exercise. This step is No.1 for a reason and it is incredibly important - I can’t stress enough how essential it truly is! Exercising during pregnancy is safe and beneficial as long as the exercise is suitable and you have a low risk pregnancy. There are a handful health conditions that may impact upon your exercise routine or even prevent you from working out so it is vital that you check with your healthcare provider before you begin. Please don't skip this step. Even if you believe your pregnancy is actually low risk, always check first.
2. Activities to avoid. You may be pleasantly surprised as to how much you can do during your pregnancy but there are certain activities which should be avoided.
• Scuba diving or deep sea diving
• Contact sports
• Racket sports such as tennis & squash
• Ball sports where there is a chance of contact or being struck with the ball (eg. basketball, baseball, volleyball, soccer, football etc)
• Exercising at altitude
• Water sports such as jet skiing, water skiing, river rafting
• Downhill skiing
• Horseback riding
• Ice skating
3. Even if you weren’t working out before your pregnancy you can begin now but start slowly. Now is not the time to train for the marathon. Start with a gentle walking program and carry out some regular pelvic floor and core stability exercises. If you are unsure about how exactly to start, seek the help of a certified pre and post natal personal trainer.
If you were active before your pregnancy and have a good level of fitness already then concentrate on maintaining your fitness rather than trying to improve it. You will probably need to adapt your program throughout your pregnancy and lower the intensity as your pregnancy progresses.
4. Monitor exactly how hard you're working. There are a few ways for you to do this and I recommend using the Talk Test and RPE (rate of perceived exertion). The Talk Test is very simple; while performing cardiovascular exercise you should be able to maintain a normal conversation. If you discover you have to pause mid sentence to take a huge gulp of air then you're working too hard. The RPE test is based on a scale of 10; 0 being no exertion whatsoever (being seated & relaxing) and 10 being maximum exertion (trying to keep up with Usain Bolt over a 100m sprint!) In pregnancy you should avoid exercising above level 7.
5. What to Wear Comfort and support are the main factors here. Buy the very best sneakers you can afford to ensure they give you good support and shock absorption. Wear clothing manufactured from natural fibres to allow your skin to breathe; bamboo is fantastic for wicking moisture away from your skin, and wear layers which you can add and take off when necessary. If you are taking part in any cardiovascular activity it may be preferable to wear not one but two sports bras for additional support and comfort.
6. Stay Hydrated: It seems obvious but your body's temperature will increase in pregnancy and if you are exercising you need to drink regularly to remain well hydrated. I remember all to well how frustrating it is in early and late pregnancy when you seem to spend huge amounts of your entire day (and night) visiting the bathroom, but dehydration can be harmful for you as well as your baby.
These are some fundamental issues to consider prior to embarking on your pregnancy workout. If you would like more in depth information please go to www.mypregnancyworkout.com. For pregnancy workout clothing please visit www.thefitwearboutique.co.uk.