Let me be honest here. During the last few months of my first two pregnancies, the only ‘fitness’ I was into was how to ‘fitness’ a Magnum Ego into my mouth!
After having my twins, I was unhealthy, tired and unhappy. I decided to make some changes.
Confession: I joined a gym in order to have some ‘me’ time and found I actually loved exercising. Who knew?! This is something close to my heart, because getting fit changed my life. My confidence grew, I had more energy for my kids and I became stronger, both mentally and physically.
Fast forward to my third pregnancy and I didn’t want to give up the lifestyle I’d grown to love. What I learnt despite bouts of morning sickness, a weak pelvic floor and lower back issues is that I didn’t have to. The key is listening to your body, getting the right advice and keeping fit in a way that is good for both you and your baby.
After my pregnancies, I had a chat with two amazing and inspiring personal trainers from my gym. Both are mothers and experts in supporting women through their fitness journeys. Varley and Katrina gave me the low down on how to stay safe whilst exercising and keeping fit during pregnancy.
8 top tips for exercising safely during pregnancy
- If you haven’t already been exercising regularly, now is not the time to begin a major exercise routine. Stick to a gentle walk or swim instead. Once bubs arrives and you’re ready to get fit, a trainer can give you great advice on how to safely get started.
- Be aware of your core temperature. Overheating is not good for you or your baby. Listen to your body and don’t push too hard if it’s warm. Take a break and cool down, especially during Summer!
- Hydration, hydration, hydration! Blood volume during pregnancy increases by nearly 50%. Your body needs extra hydration to keep up with growing a baby, and the perspiration you lose during exercising can cause you to dehydrate quickly. I know you need to pee (a lot), but please keep that water up!
- If you’re pregnant you’ll already know by the constant rollercoaster of emotions that there are a bunch of extra hormones racing around your body. The one to remember (and be thankful for during labour) is Relaxin. It helps your joints become loose and flexible enough to push a baby out, which is great! It also means that you might find you have better range when doing exercises like squats. Also great, right? Whilst everyone wants that low squat, be aware that good old Relaxin can also lead to joints popping out of place if they’re pushed too far. Listen to your body and don’t push it any further than you usually would.
- From about 20 weeks (earlier for some mums or in multiple pregnancies) the arteries that pump blood around the body can get squished if you lay on your back. Most exercises that you usually do laying down flat can still be done by inclining your bench for better blood flow. If in doubt, ask for help from gym staff to ensure you’re doing things safely.
- Yes! You can still train your core. The key is modification. Side crunches, or exercises where you’re on all fours mean you’re not putting pressure on your growing belly.
- Now is an awesome time to train those muscles we often neglect. I can’t stress this enough;your pelvic floor is so important whether you’re planning a C-section or vaginal birth. Nothing is worse than the first post baby netball game where you go for a rebound and… oops!
- Farts. They will happen, just go with it. If the guys can drop a protein bomb in the gym and get away with it, you’re allowed to let one go and blame it on baby. This is not necessarily a safety thing. I just wanted to let you know that I get that you’re gassy and you can’t help it, it’s ok!
The most important thing?
The most important piece of knowledge the wonderful Katrina has imparted on me is to listen to your body.
Train where and how is right for you, RIGHT NOW. Your body is changing and will tell you what you need. If it’s Netflix and chocolate cake, then that’s where you’re at. It might mean you lower your weights, do less reps or run more slowly, that’s fine! If you’re going ok and you’ve got the thumbs up from your doctor, then by all means keep working that booty!
It’s not up to anybody else to judge the fitness and capability or your body, whether you’re a pregnant couch potato or fitspo warrior. Be safe, have fun and when bubba comes along make sure you take the time to appreciate how amazing your body is before gently and slowly getting back into your fitness routines!
Have you got a fabulous and fit pregnancy photo you’d like to share? No matter what kind of fitness or exercise you’re into, we’d love to see you rockin’ that baby belly in your active wear!