We spoke with @laurenallenfitness on why gentle exercise is beneficial during pregnancy, she shared with us some practical try-at-home exercises to get you and your little one moving...
Gentle Pregnancy Exercise with @laurenallenfitness
In most cases, staying active is not only safe during pregnancy but also highly beneficial for mother and baby. Physical activity can help prevent pregnancy related aches and pains as well as reduce swelling and reduce your risk of gestational diabetes.
Mustering the energy to exercise during pregnancy is not always easy, especially if you are hit with nausea in the first trimester and juggling hormonal, physical and emotional changes, moving your body may be just what you need to increase your energy and boost your mood.
If you are not too sure where or how to start, then have a chat with your midwife or health provider. The general rule suggests not to start anything you haven’t already been doing prior to pregnancy but if you are a complete newbie to exercise you can start with walking and gentle body weight exercises under the advice of your health provider. A pregnancy specific Yoga or Pilates class will also offer invaluable advice and guidance.
Have a plan
Following a written plan can help you stay more accountable and act as a physical reminder. I find circuit training helpful especially with a toddler running around. Complete a series of exercises for a set number of repetitions or time in a loop. This way you can complete the loop for the time you have available. Your circuits can be made up of low impact exercises such as squats, lunges, kneeling press ups and planks. You want to avoid exercises that cause any unexplained pains, bleeding or shortness of breath or dizziness. As you reach your second trimester you will want to avoid exercises laying on your front or those that require you on your back.
Make it social
Encourage a friend to join you with your workouts, either socially distanced or virtually online. This can help with motivation and support which is not only vital when it comes to exercise but also throughout your pregnancy and post-partum journey. Online classes can also offer a great network to meet other mums to be and ensure you are working safely.
Take the pressure off
Movement in pregnancy is suggested to help benefit you. It should not be seen as a punishment or a chore. Rephrase how you look at exercise, instead of ‘I have to work out today’ try to think ‘I get the opportunity to workout today and move my body’ and remind yourself of the benefits to both yourself and your growing baby.
Monitor your intensity
Intensity will vary from person to person, we want to ensure we are able to still hold a conversation while participating in physical activity. Take plenty of rest, stay hydrated and if in doubt, slow down.
What to avoid?
Contact sports are off the cards to reduce the risk of injury, you may also have to reduce higher impact exercises. Our joints loosen in pregnancy which can cause instability and make us more prone to injury. Later on in pregnancy higher impact exercise can also have a negative impact on our pelvic floor.
Your pelvic floor
Arguably the most important exercise of all during your pregnancy. The pelvic floor supports our bladder, bowel and uterus. It comes under pressure while cradling a growing baby and also during birth (regardless if you have a vaginal or caesarean birth). They aren’t difficult to complete but can be difficult to remember to do so try and fit this in with other daily habits or routine, for example while brushing your teeth or waiting for the kettle to boil.
How to – Either seated or standing, relax your glutes (the muscles in the bottom) and take a big inhale through the nose to expand the lungs and relax the stomach. As you exhale through the mouth imagine a zipper lifting through your back passage, up into the vagina and lifting to the belly button. On your next inhale gently lower this zipper. Exercise was a big part of my first and now second pregnancy and helped me adjust and support a growing bump and baby. It also helped me during labour and the post-partum recovery period. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise, 5 times a week to help improve both physical and mental wellbeing. Listen to your body and consult with your doctor to ensure you and baby are safe throughout.