Changes during pregnancy
As soon as you fall pregnant, your body changes! Your body is working hard to provide the adequate building blocks for your unborn child. This combined with the physiological changes in your body, including increased hormone levels – particularly Relaxin result in your body being different to prior to conception. This relaxin is imperative to woman being able to deliver a baby vaginally – however it also extremely important that pregnant women understand the impacts of this hormone on their body throughout the remainder of their pregnancy. Relaxin loosens ligaments, which can increase your risk of joint injuries.
Additional considerations during pregnancy include; increased resting heart rate, decreased blood pressure during the second trimester (dizziness can result, if rapid changes in position – lying to standing etc). The increased weight and the distribution of this weight and your centre of gravity are important to consider. Your balance and co-ordination in doing activities can be affected greatly, so it is important to be aware of this when trying any activity.
Exercise to enjoy!
The first step is to consult your doctor, physiotherapist or healthcare profession to make sure exercise won’t harm your unborn baby. In some circumstances medical professionals will ask you to avoid exercise, as it may be detrimental to both the expecting mother and the growing foetus. Regular physical exercise is encouraged throughout pregnancy, to help maintain a healthy lifestyle. Some benefits of exercising through-out your pregnancy include; greater energy levels, stronger back muscles which can help manage back pain and strain as your belly grows , improved posture, weight control, improved sleep and management of insomnia, preparation for the physical demands of labour, faster recuperation after labour and increased ability to cope with the physical demands of motherhood.
Some exercise options include:
- Cycling – outdoors or on a stationary bicycle
- Exercise in water (aquarobics)
- Pregnancy exercise classes.
- Supervised classes such as yoga or Tai chi.
- Shape Up Mums sessions – if you want to attend our sessions and you are pregnant, we ask that you discuss with your trainer. As long as your medical professional has given you the ‘ok’ to exercise, we can accommodate you in our sessions. However, you must discuss this with your trainer prior to taking part in a session.
Pelvic floor exercises are also important before, during and after pregnancy. Unless you have complications, it should be possible to enjoy some level of physical activity throughout most of your pregnancy.
Exercise to avoid
When thinking about exercise options to avoid, it is important to think practically. Pregnant mums need to avoid sports and activities with high levels of contact and increased risk of falls. Some sports that fall into this category include:
- Downhill snow skiing
- Horse riding
Other exercises to avoid include:
- After about the fourth month of pregnancy, exercises that involve lying on your back – the weight of the baby can slow the return of blood to the heart. Try to modify these exercises by lying on the side.
- In the later stages of pregnancy, activities that involve jumping, frequent changes of direction and excessive stretching (such as gymnastics).
How often and how much exercise can I do?
Once your medical professional has given you the go ahead to exercise it is recommended that you do at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise on most days of the week.
So what does ‘moderate-intensity’ mean??? We no longer use heart rate as an indicator for pregnant women, due to pregnancy causing the resting heart rate to increase. Instead the recommendations now specify ‘moderate-intensity’ exercise. At moderate-intensity exercise you should be able to still talk to the person next to you (with more than ‘yes’ and ‘no’ answers). This is a great marker at our sessions, due to amount of chatting that is done whilst our mums exercise!
When you are pregnant it is important to listen to your body. If your body is feeling extremely fatigued during the first 3 months, it is important to only do very gentle exercise and rest adequately. It is also recommended that no more than 3 sessions of vigorous exercise per week be done in the third trimester.
Sally Muir – Personal Trainer
Additional information can be found at the following website http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Pregnancy_and_exercise