The general rule is that if you are exercising prior to getting pregnant then you can continue on exercising as you were, adapting as required. If you are a non-exerciser then pregnancy is not the right time to start a vigorous new get fit regime but regular and gentle sessions will be of benefit to you.
Avoiding over exercising is not just about your baby; you want to be in the best condition possible by the time you have to deal with a new baby and that’s more about energy levels and feeling good about yourself than how long it takes to get back to your pre-pregnancy shape.
Your body is pretty smart and is doing a big job of growing that baby so it will let you know pretty quickly if you need to slow down or if something doesn’t feel right.
By the third trimester, the fact that there is a large and heavy lump where your waist used to be will stop you doing a lot of things anyway.
Your baby’s cooling system is not so flash so if you overheat so will your baby. Make sure you exercise in well-ventilated areas, wear loose clothing and avoid exercising in hotter weather.
Stretching and flexibility
During pregnancy your body produces relaxin, which makes you extra bendy. This is not all bad news BUT it does mean if you ‘bounce’ around too much or over stretch you are more likely to cause yourself an injury like a muscle strain or a twisted ankle. See my article with more information about the importance of good stability and balance.
Blood pressure and blood flow
Your blood volume increases during pregnancy and elevated blood pressure is common. Try to avoid working with weights above your head or holding your breath, as you are more likely to get dizzy.
As your baby gets larger stay away from exercises that involve lying on your back as the weight pushing down restricts blood flow to the wee person.
Take some time off. Abdominal exercises that target your lower abs will feel uncomfortable and will overstretch through your pelvic area. Tight upper abs are prone to separation as your tummy accommodates your expanding bump so give up all those crunches and prone holds and focus on exercises that stabilize and strengthen your lower back and torso.
Food and exercise
Yes, you are eating for two but don’t kid yourself that you can double your food intake! It’s all about the best nutrition to keep you well throughout your pregnancy and beyond and give your baby the best start. Eat the odd chocolate biscuit just stop before the end of the pack!
Make sure if you are exercising you are eating often, in small quantities, especially before and after your session to avoid low blood sugar, which can cause dizziness and the ‘grumps’.
Make sure you keep well hydrated, sipping small amounts of water throughout any exercise session. You might also like see this article about nutrition in pregnancy.
Some exercise suggestions
- Low impact exercise classes
- Weight training with light weights
- Water activities (great for hot days with a big belly)
- Pregnancy stretch classes (e.g.; modified Pilates and Yoga)
- You might also like to find out more about exercising for birth
For specific exercises that you can do at home see my pregnancy exercises sheet.