Pregnancy and Exercise
If your pregnancy is normal and you're a healthy person, doctors will typically recommend exercise. There are endless benefits! Exercise can ease back pain, boost your mood, keep you regular (reduce constipation), improve your heart and blood vessel function, and even help set the foundation for losing baby weight after giving birth. There are some conditions and pregnancy complications that leave women in a position where they should not be exercising. It's always good idea to chat with your carer about which exercises you plan to do.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week. One of the easiest ways to get this in is simply by going for a walk outside. The fresh air always makes us feel better too, right!?
What does moderate intensity exercise look like? It is best to use the "Talk Test" or RPE Scale (Rate of Perceived Exertion). Using heart rate monitors are not reliable because our resting heart rate increases early in the early stages of pregnancy. So try using the "Talk Test." According to ACOG, as long as a woman can carry on a conversation she is likely not overdoing it. It is also good to stay at or below a 'somewhat hard' level' if using the RPE Scale. It is not that extreme intensity workouts are 100% bad for prenatal mammas and/or their growing babies... it's that research has not been done on pregnant women at this level (for ethical reasons) therefore the research is unclear. It is the opinion of Strong Sexy Mammas that it is better to be safe than sorry.
There are some considerations to keep in mind. We need to make sure we hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. We also want to avoid overheating. Which means skipping the hot yoga classes and nixing the sauna at the gym after a workout. Some women will be cleared by their doctors to continue jogging throughout pregnancy. But some doctors may advise against it to reduce the risk of pelvic floor damage. Skipping exercises that require us to be on our backs is often recommended as well.
Be sure to follow ACOG guidelines. Focus on good posture and don't forget to do your pelvic floor lifts. You also want to activate your deep core stabilizing muscles (TVA - transverse abs) throughout these workouts by drawing your belly button toward your spine. Deep diaphragmatic breathing makes a big difference as well. This is worth practicing!
It's best as pregnancy progresses especially beyond the first trimester, to stay away from exercises that have you on your belly or back. Traditional crunches, sit-ups and planks may increase the risk for abs separation. Unless you are highly conditioned and your doctor has given you the okay, Strong Sexy Mammas recommends against it. As far as bending and twisting goes - No Loaded Abdominals (Spinal Sagittal Flexions) No Loaded Obliques (Side Flexions or Rotations) No Loaded Lumbar Extensions (erectors).
Avoiding activities that could lead to a fall is wise. Doctors will often recommend staying away from activities like horseback riding and skiing. In the end, we make all our own decisions. We need to be smart and know our own limits. This will help us decide what works for our lifestyles.
I remember feeling as if I was missing out on a few really cool activities when I was pregnant with Brooks. My husband and I took several amazing trips (doctors usually say airplane travel is safe). We were trying to get in a few 'last hurrahs' before entering parenthood. We flew from Sydney to the Great Barrier Reef. I decided to snorkel instead of scuba dive (even though most of the group was strapping on the tanks and going down much deeper). It was still a great experience. Also, we had a stopover in Dubai on the way back to Sydney from New York City when I was about 6 months pregnant. My husband got to ride on a camel. I have never done this and would have loved to. But I felt I'd better stay on solid ground where I had at least one foot touching the sand! I had major FOMO on these once in a lifetime activities. But to be honest, it was staying away from HIIT training and just slowing down my daily exercise in general, that was the hardest for me. We are all wired differently and each pregnancy is different. So be sure to get one on one counsel from your own doctor.
Look! All the sacrifices we make... They are all worth it in the end right? We just need to make ours have a mind shift if we are having FOMO!
Check the website for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists for more information about staying safe while exercising during pregnancy.
If you'd like to see what was working for me in my ninth month of pregnancy, check out the video on the Gold Member page. It's a beach exercise session I did at Bondi Beach with the general manager of Speedo Fitness Club (one of the fitness studios where I teach fitness classes in Sydney).
Happy baby growing, ladies!! Don't forget to tag #strongsexymammas in your prenatal and postnatal fitness pictures. We love to see your sweaty selfies!
Photos: Jolanta Opiola
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