In today’s culture it is becoming more popular for expecting mothers to exercise during pregnancy, which is a fantastic thing because research and science has been providing positive evidence of the benefits for both mother, and baby, not only during, but also postpartum. Perhaps you are an expecting mother and you would like to start exercising, but do not know how to start, Or maybe you are already active, however you are not sure what healthy limitations should be taken. In this blog I will be covering topics such as, safe exercises to perform, and exercises you should be staying away from. First off this blog is not a diagnosis, you should always check with your doctor, or licensed physician before starting any exercise program when you find that you are pregnant. Once the doctor has Okayed you then it is time to establish a plan of action, which should include a certified personal trainer that preferably has experience working with prenatal and postnatal clients. Having a qualified personal trainer will not only help you have a successful workout while being pregnant, but also establish ease and comfort in an individual knowing the trainer is qualified and will handle this process professionally. Once you have started working out it is important to pay attention to your body, and to keep an open line of communication with your trainer, so he or she can help resolve issues that may occur.
Let’s talk about some of the changes a woman experiences when she goes threw pregnancy. The hormone relaxin is released into the bloodstream and it causes ligaments to loosen, which can cause joint issues. You would need to avoid exercises performed on discs or any unstable surface that could cause any sort of torque or excessive stretch. Another change is the output in sweat and heat. Pregnant woman actually become more efficient at getting rid of excess heat, and therefore sweat more. Things to avoid would be dark, baggy, tight fitting clothing, and hats. Instead wear breathable clothes that wick sweat away, and work out in a cooler environment. It is also important to pair breathable clothes with adequate hydrated not only during exercise, but throughout the day to help. A good rule of thumb is clear colored urine is a positive sign of hydration. Another change pregnant woman will experience in their first trimester is dizziness and lightheadedness, which is caused by low blood pressure. When exercising it is important to pay attention to these sensations and understand that it is ok to stop and take a quick break. Exercises that may heighten this feeling are vigorous cardio exercises, and workouts that contain movements that require one to lower their head below the heart, I.e. burpees, planks, etc. Another change to take into account is the effect of the belly on the pregnant woman’s center of mass. Balance will be off, therefore it is necessary to challenge the balance, but in an appropriate and safe manner. For example if a client is performing a step up, it would be wise to have a bar or something close by to help if needing assistance, also cleaning up around the area the exercising are being performed to avoid tripping.
Let us talk about some exercises that can be performed while being pregnant. Remember there is no need to break any personal records with any of the exercise programs being performed. Things to consider you may perform exercises lying supine until your second trimester, due to the restriction of blood flow to the fetus. Therefore you will be required to perform any traditional supine exercises either at an incline or not at all. For example take the bench chest press, and raise the angle to an incline chest press, move to an upright position provided by a machine for pec fly or chest press, or can even take it to an erect stance by utilizing resistance bands or a pulley machine for unilateral or bilateral chest press. If you have been working out prior to your pregnancy you may continue doing the same, if not similar movements. However, if you are just starting out it is best to stick with basic movements, and treat your program as if you were a sedentary individual that just started a workout regiment. This is where a trainer will come in handy because he or she will understand and know how to progress the program. Later on during the second and third trimester, we will want to avoid downward pressure from exercises being performed in a bent over position, and any type of plank exercises. The rectus abdominals is already receiving pressure from the fetus, so avoiding any excess pressure, like gravity will help avoid excessive stretching and pressure on the area. This takes me to another point, we want to avoid any excessive oblique exercises, because the twisting and turning can cause pulling on the rectus abdominals and potentially create a bigger separation, which will cause problems after during the recovery time of postpartum. Instead focus on exercises that will incorporate the core, without putting unnecessary pressure. For example the utilization of resistance bands, pulley machines, will put the woman in an erect position and require the core to work with the body as a whole.
Being pregnant does not mean you have to quit being active or cannot start a workout regimen, however it is actually encouraged because of the positive effects during and after delivery. It is important to understand to talk to your doctor first before you begin, and it is also recommended to seek a certified personal trainer who has experience and knowledge in the area of pre and postnatal work. Listing to your body, and being open to communicate with both doctor and personal trainer is encouraged in order to avoid any problems that may occur, and have a successful time. Having the guidance of a trainer will benefit you with the knowledge of what exercises are best during which trimester, keeping you accountable on track, and provide positive feedback on form.