Expert Column: Pregnancy Exercise with Christine Fraser

SO now you’re pregnant: What exercise can you do? This is always a very open question: and ultimately it is up to you and your pregnancy.

It is important to try to continue exercising as it helps support and protect your body as the tiny person on board grows and you do too.

But in saying this, your goal should be to remain fit and health and NOT to be reaching your personal bests during this time. There is no research to suggest that exercise (of a sensible nature) has any risks to you or your bub if you have had no complications during you pregnancy (no things like pre-eclampsia or placental attachment issues). BUT If you do have some health issues associated with your pregnancy, speak to your GP or the health care profession helping you with your pregnancy before starting or continuing with your exercise plan.

The Pros: (these are ‘generally speaking’ and statistics based on averages – take it with a grain of salt!)

  • An easier labour
  • Improve physical and mental well-being
  • Maintaining a healthy weight throughout the pregnancy and to help with post-bub weight management
  • Reduced risk of gestational diabetes and complications associated with it
  • It has also been seen to help stimulate the growth of the baby’s brain and nervous system

Guidelines

These are very broad and are designed to give you an idea of what you should be looking to do. Generally speaking, this is about 150 minutes, per week, of moderate physical activity. However, this does need to be monitored closely because as your pregnancy progresses and you body is undergoing fundamental physiological changes to support your growing bundle of joy (like increased body temperature, heart rate and increased joint laxity – thanks to the hormone Relaxin). Stay well hydrated and wear layers that you can take off if you feel like you’re raising a sweat! Talk to your instructor or trainer about this and give them constant feedback – chat to your GP too if you have any concerns.

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Good forms of exercise 

Now I know not all of you are joggers or runners but do give walking or a light jog ago! Swimming and aqua aerobics (avoid the super-hot pool!), cyling at gym, low impact aerobic classes, yoga and Clinical Pilates are also great forms of activity to try. These are all designed to keep you moving, keep the blood and oxygen pumping (especially to that bub!) and help support your changing and developing body. This can be useful for those mums-to-be with back and pelvic pain. Most forms of exercise, especially yoga, pilates and some forms of water activities, have pregnancy and mums and bubs classes. Take advantage of it! This is a supportive environment, where your instructor is going specifically there to help you out and you get to chat and share your stories with other pregnant women (hopefully making some friends for play dates too!).

Kerryn, an experienced yoga instructor from Blue Water Yoga (http://www.bluewateryoga.com.au/), strongly recommends attending a designated pre-natal class as the sequences will better support your body. Her pregnant clients are able to continue with their regular classes as with the right instructor you will be able to be assisted accordingly. Kerryn recommends that you don’t push the positions to your maximal stretch, holding at about 60% of your capacity, and ALWAYS inform the instructor when you know you’re pregnant, of any health changes during and let them know when you don’t feel comfortable. She is also able to offer post-natal exercises (as it is recommended that you wait at least 6-8weeks – you labour depending, before getting back into it) and classes designed to enhance your breathe and healing. Natasha from Kyo Yoga (http://kyoyoga.com.au) runs their prenatal classes. Owner of the studio, Lou, says that prenatal sessions ‘offer a holistic preparation and support for the pregnancy and birth’ and breathing exercises to assist your labour are incorporated into the sessions. They also offer post-natal mums and bubs sessions – this will be covered more in a post-natal edition!

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What not to do! 

Look, this isn’t rocket science – if you weren’t doing something beforehand, during your pregnancy is not the time to try that crazy under water hot yoga pump session (I’m sure they don’t exist but you get my point). Give the contact sports, high altitude climbs, skiing, trampoline jumping and scuba diving a miss. You should also avoid horse riding – use your judgement on this if you are an experienced rider and only ride a horse you know well. Lying on your back should generally be avoided after 16 weeks (due to pressure on the aorta and be cautious as this might make you feel nauseous or light-headed) – some women may be able to comfortably lie on their back their whole pregnancy, whereas others may not be able to even after 10 weeks.

Just starting out? Women who were exercising prior to the pregnancy generally have a better stamina to exercise then those who were not previously. It’s still important to be active so give things like walking (around the block or even in the pool) a go and remember to keep an eye on your body temp – so lots of layers that you can take off and lots of water!

As always, trust your body and talk to your instructor! You know you better than anyone else does and trust your gut (and what’s in it too!). If something doesn’t feel how it should; it probably isn’t. So don’t push it and pop into your GP if you have some questions about it. ALWAYS let the gym, yoga or clinical Pilates’ instructor know if you’re pregnant! Also let them know how far along, how comfortable you are during exercise and what conditions might have popped up during the pregnancy. They are another person on your side to look after you as you remain active!

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Talk to your GP or health care professional helping you with your pregnancy if you have any concerns about exercising and the ones to do and those to avoid.

You can contact Kerryn at Blue Water Yoga on 0413 955331 or Lou at Kyo Yoga on 5256 2723. They are both happy to answer any questions you may have and can tailor sessions to your pregnancy and health.

Photo Sources:

  1. http://www.babble.com/pregnancy/safe-exercise-pregnancy-dos-and-donts-prenatal-fitness/
  2. http://www.newkidscenter.com/Working-Out-While-Pregnant.html
  3. Source: http://herscoop.com/2014/09/08/18-bazillion-benefits-of-exercise-during-pregnancy-fit-pregnancy/

Photos from Pinterest.

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