While it is good for the health of the mother and her baby to stay fit during gestation, this does not mean pregnant women should suddenly step up their exercise regime. Those who went for the occasional run or hit the gym a couple of times a week should not start weight lifting and doing HIIT classes.
When pregnant, it will be hard to do core work, you may get out of breath more easily and heavy cardio sessions could feel uncomfortable, so if you were not used to intense exercise programmes before, this is not the time to start.
Miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth charity Tommy’s still encourages expectant mothers to be active but within their own comfort zone. It suggests walking, taking stairs instead of lifts, being energetic when doing the housework, gardening or doing a class.
“Start with 15 minutes of continuous exercise three times a week and increase it gradually to 30-minute sessions four days a week or every day,” a spokesperson for the organisation states.
Swimming is also great as it gives a feeling of weightlessness and eases back pain that comes with advanced pregnancy, while pregnancy yoga is also recommended for helping to relax expectant mothers and increase their flexibility for labour.
- Adapt fitness programme throughout pregnancy
So many changes occur to a woman’s body during the nine months, it is important to pay attention to how you feel and change your exercise programme accordingly.
During the first trimester, ladies do not carry much extra weight so feel comfortable doing more demanding cardio workouts such as running or aerobic classes if they are not too fatigued or nauseous. However, once their bump grows bigger and their joints loosen up, they could find all the bouncing and jumping hard on their bodies and feels uncomfortable.
According to BabyCentre.co.uk: “The ideal exercise in pregnancy will get your heart pumping and keep you supple, without causing you physical stress.”
The website suggests avoiding sports where your bump might get hit as it grows larger, such as horse riding, skiing, squash or tennis.
It states that walking, running, swimming, yoga, pilates, weight training, aerobics and dance are all suitable for pregnant women, adding: “You may need to lessen the activity as your pregnancy progresses.”
- Pelvic floor exercises
Whether you are a pro weight trainer or can’t finish the day without an intense HIIT class, the most important exercise to do while pregnant is for your pelvic floor. This will help improve the strength of your pelvic floor, which is important as pregnancy and childbirth puts a big strain on these muscles.
Those with weak pelvic floor muscles are likely to suffer from stress incontinence as they get older, so it is essential to add pelvic floor exercises to your daily routine.
- What to avoid
The key to staying fit during pregnancy is to stick to the exercise regime you are used to, lessening it as and when your body tells you to.
However, the NHS recommends avoiding a few exercises entirely for a safe and healthy pregnancy. For instance, women should not lie on their back for long periods of time after 16 weeks due to the weight of the baby pressing on the main blood vessel, which can leave you feeling faint.
Find out more at online personal trainer in the UK for a tailored fitness programme throughout your pregnancy.