Staying fit and healthy during pregnancy is vital for not only a mother, but the developing baby.
Making the time to stay active during your pregnancy has been shown to make delivery and recovery that much easier, not to mention stronger when it comes to picking your little one up multiple times a day!
Not only that, exercise boosts the feel-good chemicals in your brain, can curb cravings for the sweet stuff, and if you do it outside in the fresh air, exercise can help to alleviate morning sickness!
If your doctor has given you the green light to continue exercising during your pregnancy, it’s important to include both aerobic and strength exercises in your weekly routine.
Read on for our top tips for staying active during your pregnancy, as well as our top picks for staying healthy with baby on board!
Benefits of Exercising During Pregnancy
Not only does exercising during pregnancy help with medical concerns such as blood pressure, it can do wonders for your mental and emotional health, too. Exercise can also help prepare you for delivery and all the baby-lifting you’ll be doing once your little one is born!
- Increased energy and improved mood
- A decreased risk of pregnancy complications, such as pre-eclampsia
- Better sleep during pregnancy
- Increased muscle tone, strength and endurance: important for labour, but also for life in general!
- A reduced risk of anxiety and depression
- Improved circulation
- Higher self esteem
How much Should you Exercise?
That depends on a number of factors such as your pregnancy and health history, how much you exercised prior to conceiving and even the time of year!
Pregnancy is not one of those times where more is better, and it’s certainly not a time where you should ‘go hard or go home’! There will be plenty of time to hit those PBs and set distance records once your body has recovered. For now, it’s important to remember that your #1 priority is to keep you AND your baby healthy, and to stay injury-free.
It’s important that we mention here that during pregnancy, your body temperature increases, so it’s vital that you stay hydrated and pay particular attention to how you’re feeling if you’re exercising outdoors in the heat or are challenging yourself in the gym.
What Exercises Should you Avoid when Pregnant?
Any exercise that may cause injury or trauma to your abdomen is a no-go during pregnancy. If you’re unsure, check with your doctor, and when in doubt? Don’t.
Activities that are widely regarded as unsafe during pregnancy include:
- Sports that involve hard objects such as bats, balls and pucks;
- Sports where falls may be expected: horse riding, skating, skiing;
- Activities that require intense bursts of movement, such as HIIT training;
- Traditional ‘abdominal training’ exercises such as sit ups, crunches and planks
- Activities that require you to hold your breath;
- Exercise in hot and/or humid weather.
Make sure you’re Fuelled Correctly
It’s essential that you fuel your body to not only expend additional energy in growing a tiny human, but to ensure you have plenty of energy to get through your workout. While you may be ‘eating for two’, making sure that you’re nourishing your body for optimal performance and recovery is essential.
Our Favourite Activities for Pregnant Mums
Walking during Pregnancy
Walking is hands-down our favourite form of exercise during pregnancy. It’s free, you’re getting vitamin D and fresh air, and it’s a fantastic habit to continue when your little one comes along!
Be sure to time your walks for when it’s not too hot, and for when you’ll be safe. If you need to walk at night, we recommend you find a walking buddy to come along with you.
Make sure you have a comfortable pair of shoes, and a good pair of maternity leggings
Swimming during Pregnancy
Swimming is a fantastic option for keeping fit, and it’s one of the few forms of exercises that some doctors suggest you try for the first time if you’re pregnant.
Benefits of swimming during pregnancy include:
- Increases circulation
- Reduces swelling, particularly of the ankles
- Takes the pressure off your back, knees and ankles
Plus you don’t need any fancy equipment, just a pair of maternity swimmers you feel comfortable in!
Important things to remember:
- Don’t swim in open water by yourself if you’re pregnant. Even if you know your local beach or river like the back of your hand, currents can change. Safety first!
- You don’t have to do laps to reap the benefits: walking around in the shallow end of the pool will still provide plenty of benefits
- Use a kickboard or the side of the pool to maintain your balance. Your centre of gravity may be a little off, and it can feel strange to swim when you’re in your third trimester, so it can be handy to have a floatation device or something to hold on to for added support.
Weight Training during Pregnancy
Perhaps a surprising one, but more and more research is showing the benefits of starting – or continuing – to train with weights during pregnancy. Not only does weight training help with controlling your blood glucose levels, which is vital for those at risk of gestational diabetes, it also helps you to build muscle. You’ll thank us when you’re lifting a baby up multiple times a day!
As with all forms of exercise during pregnancy, it’s really important to go at your own pace if you’re lifting weights. And if you can afford a trainer? Even better. Do your research into the types of lifts that aren’t recommended during pregnancy (there are quite a few), and modify where you need to. Three sessions with just your body weight and light dumbbells is a far more appealing option than being out of action for months due to an injury!
Whether you’re just starting out with exercise or you’re a seasoned pro, it’s important to get your doctor to approve the type, frequency and intensity of the exercise you choose to do when pregnant. Factors such as your age, how many babies you’re expecting and your previous level of activity all come into play – and moderation is key.