Adjusting your workout before baby
Pregnancy is often associated with unwanted weight gain, giving into food cravings and in all senses ‘letting yourself go’. In reality, this is the time where being your healthiest is of the most benefit, as it’s not only your body you’re looking after, but that of your growing baby as well. If you’ve got a growing baby bump and are nervous about exercise, here are a few tips to keep you safe and healthy as you grow.
Don’t stop exercising
If you’re still in the early stages of your pregnancy, you are probably experiencing some degree of nausea and fatigue. Exercise is not off-limits though; in fact, it may help alleviate your symptoms. Even a short 20 minutes of exercise may be enough to ease queasiness. If you exercise outdoors, the fresh air is an added bonus. Always listen to your body though, and if exercising doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Exercising throughout your pregnancy can also help reduce swelling and will also boost energy levels.
Start exercising your pelvic floor
Get started on strengthening your pelvic floor as soon as possible. With the growing weight of your baby resting on your bladder and pelvic floor, muscles can weaken over time.
How to do it: Squeeze your pelvic muscles tight as if you were attempting to stop the flow of urine; none of your abdominal, buttock or thigh muscles should clench as you do this. Once you have mastered this contraction, practice your Kegels as often as you can, two ways: small contractions done in rapid succession, and slower ones that are held for 3-10 seconds at a time.
No risky business
As your stomach expands, your centre of gravity changes to match your redistribution of weight. This leaves you more vulnerable to slips and falls. Avoid running or cycling over uneven terrain, and activities like tennis, skating, skiing, horse riding, trail biking and hiking.
During strength training sessions, don’t overwork your thigh muscles. Machines that work your thighs tend to stress the ligaments surrounding your pelvis as well.
Lower your weights and increase your reps as you grow. By the end of your pregnancy you should be lifting half of what you are used to. Also, beware of free weights bumping your abdomen.
After 12 weeks, avoid all exercises in the supine position. You should not be lying flat on your back, or making any curling movements. In these positions, the uterus puts pressure on your vena cava – the large vein that sends blood from your lower body to your heart.
If you’re a yoga fundi and have entered your second trimester, now’s the time you need to steer clear of backbends, jumps, inverted poses and any moves that require you to lie on your stomach or back, or to challenge your balance extensively.
You may want to give your normal classes a skip and opt for prenatal yoga classes instead.
At no stage during your pregnancy do you need to stop running, unless your doctor has advised against it. You are likely to reduce your distance and pace considerably with the added weight of your bump, and should not be exceeding moderate intensity.
Avoid any uneven running terrains, preferably sticking to a treadmill where possible. Reduce your pace to a walk when moving downhill, as running will put additional pressure on your pelvic floor.
Supportive footwear is now especially important, so don’t settle for cracked soles or too-small sizes.
Give up your road bike for a step-through or mixte frame. The ease of these frames will leave you more comfortable when riding, as well as when getting on and off the bike.
Once you’ve exited your first trimester, it’s advised to move your cycling indoors. Bumps and rocky terrains put you and your baby at risk, and your changing sense of gravity means you’re more susceptible to trips and falls.
This is one of your best options for preggie exercise.
Avoid swimming on your back after sixteen weeks, as the weight of the uterus puts pressure on the vena cava.
You need to avoid extreme temperatures, both in and out the water. Stick to water and room temperatures around 25 degrees.
Opt for chemical-free water wherever possible, although there is no solid research to prove negative repercussions.
Acid indigestion and reflux are more prominent during pregnancy. Have your last meal two hours before swimming to avoid any symptoms, particularly in your third trimester. If you’re particularly sensitive, tumble turns will aggravate this.