Staying active is beneficial for both mama and baby. Exercise is essential for a healthy body, healthy baby and a healthy mind, although even the most active mamas won’t be able to put their bodies through the same tempo of workout as they had done pre-pregnancy. Don’t fear, you don’t have to go at this active pregnancy lifestyle alone, there are plenty of pregnancy yoga, aqua-aerobics or Pilates classes about. Just have a little look what’s available in your local area or ask your midwife. You never know, a pregnancy yoga class could spark a new found love for yoga post pregnancy!
In this excerpt from Mama You’ve Got This, an honest guide to pregnancy, Melissa Schweiger Kleinman, offers her advice on the best pregnancy workouts out there and how you can maintain an active lifestyle whilst pregnant.
Exercising while pregnant
There are so many benefits to exercising during pregnancy for mama and baby, including reduction of backaches and swelling as well as increased energy, lifting your mood and overall making you feel less blah and bloated. Plus, regular exercise can even help your ability to cope during labour. Never has there been so many choices on how to stay fit.
A few decades ago pregnancy was treated much like an illness, with doctors and midwives advising mamas-to-be that they should just rest and kick up their heels for nine months. But since then, experts have changed their tunes and recommend getting at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily during pregnancy, unless you fall under the high risk category or have a medical condition. The good news is that if you were active prior to pregnancy, you can more or less maintain the same level of activity. Sure you might need to modify some of your exercises, but if you’re smart about it, pregnancy shouldn’t put much of a change in your physical fitness plans.
A solid exercise routine will also take you far postpartum. Train your brain to include exercise on a regular basis and you won’t ever feel that it’s a burden. There are also strategic ways to sneak in a workout session that don’t involve you paying for a gym membership. I’ve trained myself to do leg lifts while unloading the dishwasher or squats whilst on a conference call. It’s all about multitasking!
What are the best workouts for pregnant mamas?
Some of the best and safest ways to get your sweat sesh on during pregnancy are swimming, brisk walking, prenatal yoga, strength training (with light weights) and indoor cycling. Brisk walking is one of the easiest forms of exercise and does many things for your body and brain. I’m a fan of taking a couple of 15 minutes walks during the day to break the day up and to clear my mind. Walks are refreshing and a great time to unplug from technology.
Now is not the time to try any extreme sports or death-defying feats that would easily cause you to fall or hurt yourself and your baby. This includes, but is not limited to, downhill skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, bungee jumping, ice skating, hockey, sky diving, scuba diving, surfing or horseback riding. You should also avoid hot yoga during pregnancy, as heat can cause your body to think it’s impervious to injury and let you take a twist that’s potentially dangerous to your joints. Overheating can also be dangerous for your baby, particularly during the first trimester when the major organs are developing. Keeping this in mind, choose cooler temperatures for your workouts and drink lots of water before, during and after your sweat session.
Whatever workout you decide to do, make sure to stay away from positions that put you flat on your back, which can decrease proper blood flow to your heart. You’ll also want to be aware of the pregnancy hormone relaxin that is now flowing through your body. Relaxin helps to… you guessed it, relax your body in preparation for labour and in doing so, it increases your flexibility and joint mobility. Thanks to relaxing, your body may think it’s a yoga guru, but in reality you could really hurt yourself if you try to go too deep with your pigeon pose. Bottom line: know your limits.
Look out for the following section of Mama You’ve Got This, dedicated entirely to stomach and abdominal exercises during pregnancy.
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