Hugh Hanley, father of two and National Personal Training Manager at Virgin Active, on training while pregnant
Being pregnant can be an amazing time for mothers-to-be and there’s no reason why you should stop exercising or training during the pregnancy. Here are our top tips for staying in shape if you’re expecting.
Before you begin exercising, remember that it is important to talk to your doctor. Exercise and pregnancy usually work well together, so they should be able to give you some excellent and specific advice. If you exercised regularly up until your pregnancy, the chances are you can continue what you’re doing, unless your activity is classified as high intensity. However, if you don’t usually exercise, this is still a great time to start and your baby will definitely thank you for it. But be aware of the changes your body is undergoing.
Being pregnant doesn’t mean you have to stop exercising, and it doesn’t have to mean being tired all the time. Research shows that training while pregnant has numerous benefits, including: –
- Greater ability to handle the discomforts of pregnancy and labour.
- Easier to get back into shape and regain your normal weight after pregnancy.
- Faster labour, with less likelihood of induction.
- More positive, healthier feelings about pregnancy.
Top Tips for Exercising While Pregnant
- Drink plenty of fluids, before, during and after any exercise, and avoid overheating. Be sure to always warm up and cool down
- Wear loose fitting clothing, and comfortable non-slip supportive shoes
- Keep your heart rate under 140 beats per minute
- Past the first trimester, avoid exercising flat on your back—the weight of your uterus reduces the blood and oxygen flow to your baby
- During aerobic exercise, you will find that you have less oxygen available, so lower the intensity of your normal routine
- Your metabolism speeds up during pregnancy, so remember to eat a well-balanced diet
- Your body produces a hormone called relaxin during pregnancy. This hormone softens joints and ligaments to make the birth process easier, so be careful not to overextend joints that may result in injury
- Do pelvic floor exercises every day and you’ll help keep your back and spine strong, flatten your tummy post birth, and alleviate the problems with bladder and bowel control that are common after childbirth (see pelvic floor exercise tips next week)