There is much confusion amongst mums-to-be about exercising during pregnancy. Is it safe? What types are best? And what should be avoided? Our resident antenatal fitness expert STEPHANIE SINNOTT gives her tips on prenatal exercise.
When people hear that I am a personal trainer, they immediately start asking questions: How do I lose weight? How do I lose my belly? What exercise gets rid of my bum? When pregnant women hear that I specialise in prenatal exercise, I then get bombarded with even more questions!
Luckily, I love my job and love talking about what I do. It’s always the same question first:
Can I actually exercise when I’m pregnant?
It never fails to amaze me that so many pregnant women just don’t know what type of exercise they can do safely. There is a lot of conflicting information out there.
I read about this topic all the time, and just recently I found demonstrations of supposed ‘safe’ pregnancy workouts that included abdominal exercises, which would be considered tough for most people, let alone pregnant women. Then there is the opposite end of the spectrum, the old school of thought that you must put your feet up for nine months. But there is a happy medium.
There are plenty of pregnancy-specific safe exercises that you can do. Most medical professionals now recommend that pregnant women do some sort of exercise routine. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology recommends that “In the absence of either medical or obstetric complications, pregnant women can adopt the current American College of Sports Medicine recommendations of 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise on most, if not all, days of the week.” This means that, for a pregnant woman with no complications, there is no reason for her not to complete a regular exercise routine.
Check with your GP first to make sure you don’t have any contraindications to exercise before undertaking any exercise routine. Most GPs will advise you to wait until you are past the 12-week mark.
Benefits of exercise during and after pregnancy:
- Exercising increases your energy levels. This is especially beneficial during pregnancy.
- Exercise helps you sleep better.
- You build muscle and keep up a level of cardio fitness that will help you avoid excessive weight gain during pregnancy. The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism becomes. In turn, this also helps to avoid gestational diabetes.
- Exercise during pregnancy helps prepare you for the later stages of pregnancy – you may not feel as tired towards the end. It can also help to alleviate back pain.
- Strengthening your legs helps you carry the extra weight of the baby and the amniotic sac, instead of your lower back carrying the extra weight.
- Exercise is a good way to prepare for labour –strong body, strong mind.
- Strengthening your arms and back helps you carry bags, buggies, car seats, etc.
- Endorphins produced during exercise are proven to lower stress.
- Toning your body makes you look good and it improves your self-image.
- Postnatal exercise can help you recover from childbirth and can help you regain your pre-birth body faster. High metabolism, healthy eating and looking after yourself all help you to get back into those pre-pregnancy jeans quicker and easier.
Originally posted 2014-04-11 12:38:13.