How keeping fit during pregnancy is powerful for Mama!

I know you might be feeling exhausted and exercise is the last thing you feel like doing. However, exercising during pregnancy will actually give you more energy and that's only the start of the benefits!

  • Combat tiredness - as we mentioned, exercising will give you more energy and will increase the circulation in your body, and also reduces swelling
  • Exercise helps with the dreaded constipation also, by decreasing the time it takes food to move through the large intestine. 
  • By exercising you are strengthening many of the muscles around your back, therefore preventing back pain which is something most pregnant women suffer from.
  • Studies also suggest that exercise helps your sleep patterns by improving the quality of your sleep. 
  • All exercise boosts your mood and allows those lovely endorphins to flow!
  • It will prepare you for childbirth, giving you greater endurance. Some studies show that a fitter mother is more likely to have a shorter labour.
  • If you'd like an easier, more straight forward recovery, then exercising during pregnancy is showen to help. You are also less likely to gain excess weight during your pregnancy.

                      

So what kind of exercise should I be doing? 

You can continue to do, but not exceed, whatever exercise you have been doing before you got pregnant, as long as you feel safe. A good guide is approximately 30 minutes a day of cardio/aerobic exercise. Ensure you drink water regularly throughout. It's not advisable to do sports which have a risk of falling or injury like horseriding, or other adventure sports like scuba diving, for obvious reasons. Just follow your common sense.

Pregnant women should also look at strength training - and no I don't mean turning into a female Arnie (which is virtually impossible anyway!). Lifting light weights is really beneficial during pregnancy as it will help to keep the body strong as you become physically larger and the body is put under more stress. Weight-bearing exercise helps build and maintain strong bones, and lifting light weights is a perfect combination with any form of aerobic exercise. 

The other part of the exercise jigsaw puzzle is stretching and lengthening the muscles in the body.  Yoga is a phenomenal way of doing this and you can read more about that here.

Great exercises during pregnancy?

  • Brisk Walking for 30 minutes a day is great exercise for you and baby. Even if you have not been very active before pregnancy, I'd suggest you incorporate a daily 30 minute walk into your routine.
  • Gentle Running, if you were running before you got pregnant.
  • Swimming is really wonderful as you weigh like a feather and it has no impact on your joints.
  • Low-impact dance class can be great fun as generally they are set in a group environment. Just ensure you don't feel out of breath and take it easy.
  • If you are part of a gym, ask your trainer to modify your weights to an appropriate level. Or if you aren't used to lifting weights, get some guidance and start very light.
  • Prenatal Yoga and Pilates are both wonderful for strengthening your back and core and Yoga will also help to relieve a lot of tension throughout the body. 
  • It's advisable to ensure you eat something about 1 hour before you exercise.

Things to watch out for:

  • Overheating - particularly in the 1st trimester. Make sure you always have plenty of water with you and sip regularly.
  • Breathlessness - always take the talk test and ensure you can talk full sentences while working out. Never exercise to the point of exhaustion.
  • Overstretching - once you reach 20 weeks pregnant, you may find you become more flexible. This is due to the large increase of the hormone Relaxin in your body which is gently preparing your body for your baby's arrival. Ensure you don't overstretch and always follow instructors guidance.
  • If you experience any form of dizziness, swelling, spotting, contractions, headache, any unusual discharge or fluid, or chest pain during exercise, then you should stop immediately and seek medical assistance. Listen to your body and be sensible! 

Did you enjoy this read? Please share it with your friends using the tabs on the left, and comment below if you have any thoughts or questions. If you'd like to know more about our prenatal program, please click here. 

Helen Plass works with women and their birthing partners to achieve a comfortable, healthy & happy journey into Pregnancy, Birth and Motherhood. She has built a successful business in Dublin, Ireland, as a Yoga Instructor, specializing in Pre- & Post-natal health and fitness, Active Birthing workshops, Baby Massage and Mama & Baby Yoga classes. She is known for her very practical & non-judgmental approach to pregnancy and the crazy times of motherhood! Helen has trained in the UK and Ireland, and is mega proud of coming first in her Yoga Teacher Training (she’s a bit of a swot) at the gorgeous Samadhi Studios in Dublin. She’s a proud wife, mama to two energetic little boys, former corporate marketing professional, keen runner and lover of all things related to sport…and is an avid supporter of Irish Rugby.

When she’s not becoming all teary and emotional with messages from her clients about their gorgeous births, you can find her walking along the rocks and beach with her boys, cheering on the sidelines of football and rugby pitches, experimenting with essentail oils, baking and preparing meals for the non-stop-eating men in her life…and in general just trying to keep it all together. Check out all her communication at NurtureMamas.com, and if you are in Ireland, her local business Mumandbaby.ie