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Exercising during pregnancy


You’ve just found out you’re pregnant! Congratulations! What an exciting time you have ahead of you.

Growing a baby is a wonderful thing and your body goes through so many changes internally and externally to help with that.

One of the biggest concerns for expecting mothers is whether or not they can exercise during pregnancy, what type of exercise they can do and how often.

Labour is like an athletic event, so like any athletic event you want to get your body ready for it by training for it.

As long as you have a healthy and normal pregnancy, you should be able to exercise regularly right up until you give birth.

Exercising during pregnancy is safe for you and the baby

The NHS guidelines state that exercise is good for you and your baby as it helps you maintain a healthy weight and prepare your body for labour.

It is recommended to do 150 minutes of exercise per week. Of course, everyone’s pregnancy is different, and some expecting mothers suffer from bad sickness, nausea or low energy levels. So, it is important to listen to your body and rest when you need to.

On the days you feel that you have more energy, you should take advantage and aim to do something for 30 minutes, even if it is just a walk.

Add strength training in a couple of times a week

It still seems to be a strange thing to find a pregnant woman in the weights area at the gym, but resistance training is one of the best things you can do during pregnancy.

You do want to be mindful of how much you are pushing yourself though as this is not the time to try to lift your heaviest squat or deadlift.

Your aim here is to keep your body strong, help it as it goes through its changes and prepare it for labour and beyond.

Maintaining muscle strength has been shown to help with coping during labour and a better recovery after giving birth. Keeping your body strong can help alleviate some of the aches and pains that come with your body changing during pregnancy.

And don’t forget, once baby arrives, you’re going to be carrying a heavy car seat, pushchair, baby bag, and an ever-growing baby, so you really can’t afford not to be strong!

Seek help from a personal trainer if you are unsure

If however you have never done any type of strength training before, or you just want to have a bit of guidance, then book in with a personal trainer who is qualified to work with pregnant women. Be sure to let them know everything about you, so any injuries, any pains you have been getting, how you are sleeping etc, so they can make sure to take those things into account when training you.

A personal trainer can show you how to use weights correctly, check your form and advise you on the best exercises for you at each different stage of your pregnancy.

We don’t ever want you to stop training, so if something doesn’t feel quite right, we would rather modify exercises for you than stop them altogether.

If you are in and around London, then check out Bumps & Burpees to find great qualified pre and postnatal trainers near you.

Be mindful during HIIT and spin classes and avoid contact sports!

You should stop any exercise or sport that has a risk of falling or being pushed.

HIIT and Spin are great classes to take pre-pregnancy but might not be ideal once you are pregnant if you struggle with taking the intensity down. HIIT and spin tend to push your heart rate to near 100% of your maximum heart which would normally leave you breathless. This is not ideal during pregnancy.

If you still want to attend these classes, then you need to make sure the instructor knows you are pregnant and is happy to modify exercises for you. You should remove any high-impact moves during HIIT classes, extend your rest periods and make sure to drink lots of water.

During spin class, the best thing is to go at your own pace. You want to be able to talk, so be sure to check in with yourself regularly and reduce your speed/resistance if you are getting too breathless.

You also want to avoid overheating, so make sure wherever you are taking your classes has windows and/or air-conditioning.

Seek out prenatal fitness classes

Working out with others is always much more fun than doing it on your own.

Prenatal classes are becoming more and more popular and if you want to exercise in a safe environment whilst also meeting other expecting mums, then be sure to check out mumshape.co.uk. You can filter for your area to find classes near you.

If you live in London, then also check out Mumhood as they have studios in various London locations with lots of prenatal class options.

Yes, exercise is really good for you during pregnancy, physically and mentally, but it’s important to listen to your body. Some days you’ll feel great and have lots of energy. On others, you might feel quite tired and will just want to rest.

This is completely normal, so don’t feel bad if you have the desire to exercise but simply don’t feel up for it.

On the days you do have more energy, doing something even just for 20 minutes can be enough to make you feel great.

Listen to your body- if all you can manage is a walk, then do that. Want to do a little more? Then grab your weights or resistance bands and do some resistance training. There are no hard and fast rules!

About the Author

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Funmi is the co-founder of Strong for Everyday and a pre and post natal qualified Personal Trainer and Fitness Instructor.

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