A very good friend of mine recently told me that she is expecting her first baby and, seeing as ante and postnatal fitness is my specialty, I thought it was about time that I did a wee blog on this topic!

Pregnancy for some people means a good excuse to put your feet up for nine months and “eat for two”. As long as you have a low-risk* pregnancy this needn’t be the case.
If you are a regular exerciser you can pretty much carry on as normal during your first trimester – just remember to LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! If you are feeling the effects of early pregnancy (like nausea and fatigue for example) perhaps you need to take it a bit steadier until you feel better. Remember, now is not the time to train hard, it’s all about maintaining your fitness.

So what exactly are the benefits to exercising when you are pregnant?

Helps to promote a healthy lifestyle for you and your baby.
Can alleviate many symptoms of pregnancy e.g. back ache, varicose veins.
Improved core strength.
Enhances self-esteem and positive feelings.
More oxygen rich blood via the placenta.
Lower chance of high blood pressure.
Increased endurance levels for labour.
May help decrease the time in active labour.
Less likely to need obstetric intervention.
Increased confidence to cope with labour anxiety and pain.
Faster recovery from labour.
Better posture and less back pain.
Improved sleep patterns and energy levels.
Reduced chance of developing gestational diabetes.
Less likely to suffer from stress incontinence and prolapse
Quicker return to pre pregnancy weight, stamina, strength and flexibility.
Enhanced body image and confidence.

But what about these Old wives’ tales?

“Exercise in pregnancy increases your risk of miscarriage”.
If yours is a low-risk* pregnancy, then your chances of miscarriage are not increased by exercising. In fact, research has shown that the rate of miscarriage is actually lower in runners and aerobic dancers than it is in women who don’t exercise at all (Pregnancy and Fitness, Baker 2013).

“Exercise will cause your waters to break”.
Not true! Your waters will break in due course, when it is the right time.

“Exercise will take nutrients from your baby”.
As long as you are eating a well-balanced diet and following a sensible, regular exercise routine that is suitable for your stage of pregnancy then there is no reason why any nutrients will be diverted away from your growing baby. Exercise actually seems to improve the function and growth of the placenta due to the increase in blood vessels produced as an adaptation to exercise

Exercises to avoid

Avoid exercises that require you to work at a high intensity. In general I recommend that my clients work at level of 50-60% of their max (you should still be able to talk comfortably).
From 12 weeks onwards it is recommended that you avoid lying flat on your back. This can be dealt with by elevating the “head” end of the surface you wish to lie on.
It is best to avoid any exercise that requires you to raise your arms above your head, from 20 weeks.
Avoid exercises with too much impact or twisting actions.
It is also best to avoid exercises that stresses your pelvis laterally i.e. side lunges and some gym equipment.
Abdominal flexion exercises i.e. sit-ups/crunches/v-sits etc. should be off the schedule until your tummy muscles have healed sufficiently after birth.
Finally, any exercise that you don’t feel comfortable doing, either physically or mentally, should be avoided! It’s your body so listen to what it is telling you!!!
If you have any questions, please to get in touch!

Aileen xxx
*If you are unsure whether you have a low-risk pregnancy, consult your doctor.