The do’s & don’t of exercising in pregnancy
Throwback to when LBF founder Lizzie spoke to Body & Soul mag sharing her tips on exercise in pregnancy. We hope this helps you in whatever stage you’re at!
Exercise can be hugely beneficial while you’re pregnant, but you need to know how to do it safely, for yourself and your growing baby. Women’s trainer Lizzie Bland shares her do’s and don’ts for staying fit when you’re expecting.
It’s an understatement your body goes through a huge transformation while pregnant. Exercise can help improve your mood, sleep, even your recovery after birth. But there are some important things you should know in order to workout safely.
On average you need around 350 calories extra per day during pregnancy, and that’s if you’re not exercising. Many of us find it hard to workout after eating (let alone with morning sickness in the mix) so snacking is great to keep your blood sugar levels even and avoid any dizzy spells. A banana and handful of almonds, a slice of PB on toast or yogurt and berries are a few nutritious pre/post-workout combo’s that’ll keep your blood sugar levels happy.
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ou want to keep oxygenated blood circulating freely through the body so keep your breath flowing and body moving and avoid any long holds. Image: iStockSource:BodyAndSoul
Work your core
Although you should skip the ab curls and sit ups for a while, strengthening the core and pelvic floor helps to relieve back pain and significantly help with post-birth recovery. Exercises like cat/cow, seated pelvic tilt and planks on the knees are safe in every trimester. For help with pelvic floor exercise its a good idea to see a women’s health physio who can check the right muscles are engaging and releasing when they need to.
Stretching in your warm up and cool down is a great way to improve circulation and get muscles prepped to work. As your bump and boobs grow, the front of your body will get increasingly tighter so chest opening exercises like downward dog and cat/cow are great- they also help strengthen your back and improve posture.
Stretching in your warm up and cool down is a great way to improve circulation. Image: iStockSource:BodyAndSoul
During pregnancy and breastfeeding you’ll be carrying a hormone called ‘Relaxin’ which does just that- relaxes, so don’t push over the point of discomfort and you’ll avoid any lasting joint issues.
To avoid blood pooling (a buildup of blood in the veins) and sudden dips in blood pressure, try not to hold any poses or positions for long periods of time. You want to keep oxygenated blood circulating freely through the body so keep your breath flowing and body moving and avoid any long holds, for example Yin yoga.
If you’re attending a ‘nonpregnancy’ class, it’s essential you talk with the instructor, no matter what stage you’re at for guidance and alternative exercises. If you’re keeping it top secret we suggest emailing the studio prior to your class so they can help you out before you get swept up into a mid-class burpee competition.
Tell your trainer if you’re pregnant but attending a non-pregnancy specific class. Image: iStock.Source:BodyAndSoul
If you’re not familiar with running or Pilates then now isn’t the time to start. Stick with what your body is familiar with, so if your 30 mins of daily exercise consists of vacuuming and taking the dog for a walk then great, stick with it. Jerky movements, jumping, twisting and contact sports should be avoided, instead focus on controlled, full body exercises such as squats, plie’s, lunges and push ups.
If you’re feeling dizzy, sweating or uncomfortably warm, it’s a sign you need to cool down immediately. Try to exercise in a cool environment and avoid heated classes. Standing by a fan and regularly sipping cold water will help.
Forget your water
Dehydration in pregnancy can reduce the amount of blood to the placenta so it’s vital you sip, pre, during and post workout to keep you up at a safe level. Dehydration can also increase your risk of overheating and even trigger contractions…Gulp.
Always ensure you’re drinking enough water. Image: iStockSource:BodyAndSoul
Lie on your back
After roughly 16 weeks you’ll want to stop exercising on your back (doing exercises such as glute bridge and single-leg knee lifts etc) as your body weight can restrict blood flow to your heart, brain and uterus.
This can make you feel dizzy, short of breath and isn’t great for you or your baby so opt for side-lying exercises or come on to all 4’s to modify.
Starting a workout regime is always the hardest part but once you start and begin to reap the benefits, you’ll *hopefully* not want to stop. Whether you’re joining strength classes at your local studio, following an online program or working with a personal trainer, hold yourself accountable by getting your workouts in the diary.
Note them as ‘important meetings’ (because they are) that you just can’t miss. Doing what you enjoy is the number 1 way of staying motivated so do your research and ask a pre/post-natal expert or women’s health physio for suggestions.