Staying Fit and Healthy during Pregnancy
Pregnancy… something many millions of women have been through before me and many millions more will go through once I have finished. I have to humbly admit I was quite shocked at just how hard pregnancy really is and I’m not even in my last trimester. I have compiled a blog for all expectant mothers and future mothers on some helpful hints on looking after your body during one of the most incredible, exciting and terrifying experiences of your life.I was quite shocked at just how hard pregnancy really is! #performbetter @pogophysio Click To Tweet
As health professionals we have been banging on about exercise for years. It is vital to the function of most of our body’s major systems and can protect you against a multitude of diseases. It is just as important during pregnancy for the health of yours and your baby’s bodies. It helps with weight gain control during pregnancy, assist in making it easier to carry the baby, and prepares your body for the birth and for looking after a newborn. I was under the impression that when pregnant I would just carry on doing all the same exercise I would normally do before I fell pregnant. Well this was true up until about 6 weeks and then it all came to a grinding halt and I got hit with cold after cold and crippling nausea. For me I just had to taper my exercise depending on my state of wellbeing at the time. This meant if I had a bad cold my exercises might have been getting to the shower and back to bed or if I was feeling great a few km in the pool.Pregnancy is not the time to start your new fitness goals! #performbetter @pogophysio Click To Tweet
As a general rule of thumb you can continue doing the same types of exercise you did before you were pregnant with a few exceptions. This then means that if you were a runner, swimmer, hiker etc you can continue participating in these sports. Pregnancy is not the time to start your new fitness goals and begin participating in all sorts of exercises your body is not used to. It is very important to take into consideration a number of factors regarding participation in certain activities and sports when you are pregnant. These include
- Body temperature: it is vital to monitor that your body temperature does not become too hot or cold when you are exercising as your baby cannot regulate its own body temperature and this can be extremely dangerous.
- Cardiovascular load: you heart is not just pumping blood around your body but also to your placenta and unborn baby. This increased cardiovascular demand will often cause breathlessness and an increased rate of perceived exertion during exercise. With this in mind it is sensible to pay closer attention to your body and heart rate and taper back your exercise intensity or duration to allow for this. High intensity exercise and interval training puts the cardiovascular system under high levels of stress for short periods of time. Some specialists will advise against this type of training at all during pregnancy so please read up on the risks and chat to your midwife or obstetrician before choosing to train like this during your own pregnancy.
- Abdominal work: most women’s abdominals will start to stretch to allow room for your growing baby between 10-14 weeks gestation. When they do it is important to scale back or cease altogether isolated abdominal strengthening. There is simply no benefit to strengthening a muscle group that are trying their best to relax and stretch. In addition to this doing excessive abdominal work can contribute towards separation of the rectus abdominus muscles.
- High impact sports: Any sports that pose a risk of direct trauma to your abdomen are naturally to be participated in with caution during pregnancy. Every woman is different and we all interpret risk differently but accidents do happen. Sports that have this risk attached include but are not limited to BMX or motor cross jumping, big wave surfing, wake boarding, water skiing, snowboarding and skiing and various forms of contact sports and martial arts. I have surfed since I was 12 so during my pregnancy I surfed in smaller waves until I was 16 weeks pregnant and stopped because I could no longer comfortably lie on my board.
Try to maintain a healthy diet
This is naturally a given but can be harder than expected if you suffer from reflux or morning sickness. There are a number of essential minerals and nutrients your baby needs for a healthy development and the best way to obtain these is through eating a diet of fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains and meats and fish. There is a multitude of information out there on what foods to avoid and to try eating more of during pregnancy. I suffered terribly with nausea during my first trimester and found that I could only stomach tiny meals for breakfast and dinner. Subsequently I made sure my lunch was as healthy as it could be as I knew it was my main source of nutrition for the day. As I progressed later into my pregnancy my morning sickness calmed down and I started suffering from reflux, mainly in the afternoons. Subsequently I made sure breakfast and lunch were bigger meals as I was often only picking at food for dinner. Pregnancy multivitamins are also a great way of making sure you keep up your intake of essential minerals and nutrients.
Resting during pregnancy is vital. Your body is undertaking one of the most incredible feats and is growing a whole new human. There are different times during your pregnancy where the baby goes through growth spurts and will demand more energy from you to do this. Subsequently it is essential that you listen to your body and notice things like fatigue and signs of sickness such as a runny nose or sore throat and then act accordingly. I found that during my first trimester my immune system took a hammering and I got 4-5 colds. As frustrating as it was I just had to rest up, sleep, eat well and know that this was only for a season.Resting during pregnancy is vital. #performbetter @pogophysio Click To Tweet
Lindsay Christie (APAM)
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Wang, T. W., & Apgar, B. S. (1998). Exercise during pregnancy. American Family Physician, 57, 1846-1859.
Morris, S. N., & Johnson, N. R. (2005). Exercise during pregnancy. J Reprod Med, 50(3), 181-188.