The exercise guidelines used to state that if you had not been exercising prior to falling pregnant then now was not a good time to start. Thankfully with the increasing amounts of evidence to show how beneficial exercise is not just for you but for your baby as well, being active is something that it is now highly recommended by many health professionals.
A recent study at the University of Montreal showed that just 20 minutes of moderate activity 3 times per week can improve your baby’s brain development in the first year. If you think about it, when you are active, you are increasing the amount of oxygen and nutrients to your baby so the results of this study are not surprising.
There are numerous benefits to staying active throughout your pregnancy including, better emotional balance, increased energy levels, fewer aches and pains, improved digestion, better sleep, less nausea.
Understanding that what you do, how much you do and the duration of what you do is going to vary from day to day and trimester to trimester is important. The
key is to continue to listen to your body and find your own way to stay active.
While starting an exercise program when you are pregnant is not dissimilar to beginning an exercise program at any other stage in your life, there are a few things to consider and this is why it is always helpful to seek out a professional trainer who has experience working with pregnant women. You want to choose a plan that is safe, effective and has the flexibility to alter with your pregnancy.
Your goals in pregnancy shift from achieving peak fitness to attaining a healthy pregnancy for Mum and baby and furthermore preparing your body for the physical demands of being a Mum.
By exercising and nourishing you and your baby with healthy foods you will sustain your energy levels and find a better emotional balance that will support your body through the changes of pregnancy.
Your ultimate goal is to have your body feeling healthy and physically ready for the endurance event we call labour.
An ideal pregnancy program will work to achieve the following:
- Core strength to support your back and support the baby weight as well as
- Maintaining a good pelvic floor to support the weight of the baby and avoid incontinence issues moving forward.
- Strong legs to assist you to carry your baby’s weight as it grows
- Cardiovascular fitness to help you pump oxygen for two and prepare your body for the ultimate endurance event: “labour”.
- Arm and upper body strength to enable you to carry the loads required as a Mum (baby, prams, toys, carriers, handbag – sometimes all at once).
- Upper Back Strength to assist with carrying the increased load on your front including the weight of the growing baby and enlarged breasts.
- Flexibility training will keep your body mobile throughout your pregnancy
Mindful exercises such as Pilates and Yoga will assist you in reducing any anxiety and stress and help you manage fluctuating moods.
Overall being active will help you move towards being strong, happy and healthy throughout your pregnancy. How you achieve these goals depends on what feels right for you.
Upper body strength can be attained through a gym-based program or a home-based bodyweight program or yoga practice. Cardiovascular might be a walk through your local park or a spin cycle class taken at your pace.
It is always a great idea to find a professional that understands you and personalize your program to achieve these pregnancy goals in an enjoyable way that works for you.
In better understanding what it is you are trying to achieve and how this will improve your pregnancy and your babies health, it will be easier for your to find a way of staying active while you are pregnant.