Aren’t Mothers great?! Mums, Grand-mums, mums-to-be, they’re all amazing
humans creating life whilst living their own. There is so much information out there
around pregnancy, the do’s and the do not do’s that it can become overwhelming and all consuming. Essentially, no pregnancy, birth or adjustment to motherhood is the same. You really do have to trust your intuitions and take guidance from health professionals. On that note, the benefits of exercise during pregnancy is no new news however I will always encourage pre/post-natal clients to discuss with their healthcare professional before performing any activity to get the all clear.
The Fear Factor
Pregnancy is scary, motherhood is scary, exercise doesn’t have to be. Reduced
back pain, increased energy and improved sleep quality are all benefits of exercise during pregnancy. There are of course certain considerations and modifications to be put in place and approaching with an element of caution is always recommended but if you were active pre-pregnancy, there is absolutely no reason for you not to continue movement of some kind throughout.
Thoughts and Feelings
The short of it is, you know yourself better than anyone. This will be key when
performing exercise. If you weren’t particularly an avid runner or regular weight lifter then perhaps now isn’t the time to start. There are many lower-intensity exercises that you can do without putting yourself at risk. Walking, gentle swimming and cycling are all perfectly fine to do as impact is low. As you head towards your third trimester you may just want to keep an eye on heart rate, keep that at a comfortable conversational level. If you were a regular gym-goer then by all means continue as you were and start modifying a few exercises when the bump gets a little bigger! *see below for suggestions.
Modifications and Adaptations
So you’re probably pretty aware that you’re growing a whole new human and
that in itself is tiring but it also adds an additional load to your body for your muscles to work with. There’ll be elements of pressure and discomfort as the baby grows, in which case there are a few exercises that will require modifications in order for you to perform them safely and effectively. Here are a few key points to take home:
Planks - Generally speaking, within the first trimester, before you start to show, regular plank-based exercises are okay. Once the bump starts to grow you ideally don’t want to be putting too much pressure on the abdominal wall. Alternatives for this are to lower your knees to the ground, put your hands up onto a higher surface, or both!
Squats/Deadlifts - Make room! Widen your stance and rotate your toes out to
create enough space for your beautiful bump. You’re going to need strong legs to run around after the bubba, plus these exercises are great to work the core and pelvic floor in a safe way.
Rotational Movements - Where best, try to avoid these throughout the second
and third trimester. As the abdominal wall contracts laterally (sideways) you’ll feel a
pulling/tightening sensation which of course, your baby will feel too! It’s already pretty cramped in there so focus more towards stabilising core exercises rather than rotational.
To conclude, as I said, it really is a minefield of advice because you are unique, as is your pregnancy, exercise history and upcoming motherhood. You don’t have to run marathons, lift personal bests or exercise every single day. Focus on the positive outcomes of exercise and use it as a tool to make you feel great. Always consult with your doctor to confirm any potential risks, get an extra layer of reassurance and do it for you. I have no doubt you want to feel strong and ready for your new arrival but there should be no pressure from anyone, including yourself!