‘Exercises for Pregnancy Part 1’ written by Vanessa Bartlett and published in Great Health Guide (September 2017). Maintaining a regular exercise routine throughout your pregnancy can help you stay healthy. If you are physically active before your pregnancy, you should be able to continue some activity in moderation under the guidance of your doctor. In this article, fitness coach Vanessa Bartlett shares her thoughts about exercising during each trimester of pregnancy.
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Fitness: Exercises For Pregnancy Part 1
written by Vanessa Bartlet
Being a personal trainer and Pilates instructor, I always thought I had control of when and how I would exercise.
Pregnancy is exciting, challenging, confronting and transitional in so many ways. You learn to appreciate the small things your body can do, like tying up shoelaces! Being pregnant with my first child, I’ve certainly experienced some challenges both physically and mentally.
I have learned that there are days when you can do nothing more than rest on the couch. The key here is to listen to your body and rest when needed, but also maintain a balanced exercise plan during your pregnancy.
Having to moderate my regular exercise regime and make modifications has been essential, even in the first trimester where normally you can maintain your regular regime, minus anything hard core. On days where you are up to moving about, exercise is a great way to lift your energy, mood and build your strength while your body is undergoing so many changes.
THE BENEFITS OF EXERCISE DURING PREGNANCY ARE:
• better weight management
• increased mood
• prevention of prenatal and postnatal depression
• decreased incidence of back pain
• lowering your chance of developing pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure) and gestational diabetes
• better strength and posture during and after pregnancy.
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WITHIN EACH TRIMESTER THERE ARE A FEW THINGS TO CONSIDER:
With fatigue, nausea and low blood sugar often being experienced, its important you start to slow down your regular exercise pace. Drink plenty of water and exercise at your best time of the day, not when you are feeling ill. You may continue to do a variety of exercise including cardio work and strength work for the muscles and the abdominals.
However, it is best to stop extreme sports or activities that would be higher impact on your body. Check with your doctor if you are unsure. In this trimester, I continued regular cardio like walking, light aerobic work and regular Pilates. Towards the end of the first trimester I eased off on the tummy work and minimised strain into the abdominals.
You may be experiencing pain in both the upper and lower back areas as well as sacroiliac and pelvic pain. Drinking plenty
of water is a must and again listen to your body as you start to increase in size around your tummy. From the 16th week avoid lying on your back (supine) as this can block vena cava’s blood flow back to the heart and avoid overhead ‘shoulder press’ type movements.
It is best to use a bolster of some sort to keep you on a slight angle rather than laying down for stretches. Stop all abdominal crunch and sit up style work and focus more on core work stability and pelvic floor strengthening like ‘Kegels’. This is where you draw your pelvic floor up and hold for ten seconds or so, then release. Repeat ten times each day.
You may be experiencing shortness of breath, fluid retention, varicose veins, stooped posture and low energy again. Your body will be feeling more ‘lax’ due to the hormone relaxin, so take care not to over stretch. Towards the end of pregnancy, relaxin helps to relax the ligaments in and around the pelvis so that your body can better adapt to the growing baby.
Pay attention to your pace of exercise and slow down, focusing on control of each movement, as your centre of gravity will also be off balance. Light walking and some gentle Pilates or Yoga style exercises are excellent especially during this third trimester where you want to relax and de-stress, as well as gently strengthen your body.
Please note: if you are not used to regular exercise, please consult your doctor before commencing any exercise program.
In the next issue of Great Health Guide™, I will outline a group of exercises that may be suitable for you throughout your pregnancy.
Author of this article:
Vanessa Bartlett has 14 years’ experience in the fitness industry and has appeared as a presenter for TVSN, The Morning Show and co-hosted a community TV Lifestyle show. In 2013, she was part of a group award for ‘Innovation in Healthcare’ and is on a mission to empower people to become educated in holistic health practices, powered by Pilates. See Vanessa’s website for further information