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Pregnancy and Post-partum Fitness

You’re pregnant! Congratulations! There is so much you’ll be thinking about right now, and I’m sure pregnancy fitness is one of them. I have written this blog to answer your questions of how you will stay fit and healthy whilst pregnant. I will discuss post-partum fitness also. However, you will need to get started right away. It’s no good waiting until you are in your 3rd trimester and then trying to lose the weight you have gained over the last 2 trimesters! Begin as you mean to go on!

Keeping yourself fit and active whilst you are pregnant will make a vast difference to your everyday health, the gaining weight as well as helping to cope with the labour. Studies also show, keeping yourself fit and healthy whilst pregnant will make a big difference to getting back into shape after your baby is born.

You should do as much as you can providing you are comfortable doing this. If you start to get tired then stop. Do not overdo it. Remember you are also cooking another human! Whilst pregnant, when you are exercising you should be able to hold a conversation at the same time without getting out of breath. Exercise in general is not dangerous for your baby. Research shows women are less likely to have problems later on in their pregnancy and during labour if they exercise whilst pregnant. So anything you can do ladies will have a positive impact!

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Exercises best suited for pregnancy fitness

There are a range of exercises that are best suited for pregnant ladies looking to keep up with their fitness. Baby Centre explain the best exercises must achieve the following:

  • Raises your heart rate
  • Keeps you supple
  • Burns calories which help control weight gain
  • Prepares muscles for labour and birth
  • Doesn’t push your body too hard

Doing a range of different types of exercise would be the most beneficial to you whilst you are pregnant. For example Pregnancy Yoga and Pilates are strengthening exercises and walking and swimming are aerobic exercises. You should try and make sure your exercise fits into your everyday life. If it is easier for you to do 1, 30 minute session then do that or if you find 3, 10 minute sessions work better for you, then do that. Remember exercise doesn’t have to be formal to work!

Never exercised before?

If this is the first time you are thinking about doing some exercise, you should get the go ahead from your midwife or doctor first. Most women who have never exercised will wait until their second trimester, or until their early pregnancy symptoms have passed.

After having the go ahead you can exercise just like anyone else. Just try to start slow. Ease yourself in. You don’t want to wear yourself out too much!

Can I workout hard whilst pregnant?

Try to workout as you usually would. Don’t workout to exhaustion. Follow the rule explained above. You must be able to hold a conversation whilst you are working out. Just listen to your body and don’t overdo it. Listen to your body.

You should try to avoid HIIT (High Intensity interval training) as this can be strenuous on the body. It can cause stress on your joints and pelvic floor muscles. If you feel you are experienced in this training, speak to your doctor or midwife and they can discuss with you any other risks associated with this type of training.

See ‘Made for Mums’ recommended exercise plan for pregnant women here. 

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What should I look out for?

According to Baby Centre the following signs you should look out for whilst exercising when you are pregnant. If you do experience any of the following, stop exercising and see a professional for advice immediately:

  • chest, leg, joint or stomach pain
  • dizziness or feeling faint
  • shortness of breath
  • vaginal bleeding or loss of fluid
  • difficulty with walking
  • contractions

Pregnancy exercise tips

  • Always warm up before exercising, and cool down afterwards
  • Try to keep active on a daily basis: half an hour of walking each day can be enough, but if you can’t manage that, any amount is better than nothing
  • Avoid any strenuous exercise in hot weather
  • drink plenty of water and other fluids
  • If you go to exercise classes, make sure your teacher is properly qualified, and knows that you’re pregnant as well as how many weeks pregnant you are
  • You might like to try swimming because the water will support your increased weight. Some local swimming pools provide aquanatal classes with qualified instructors.
  • Exercises that have a risk of falling, such as horse riding, downhill skiing, ice hockey, gymnastics and cycling, should only be done with caution. Falls may risk damage to the baby

The above information is advised by the NHS.

Post-partum exercise

Having a baby changes your body in ways you would never have imagined. Some changes are of course permanent, however there are some that can be temporary if you decide that’s the case.

Getting back into shape is definitely something that can be temporary if you put the effort in to get your ‘old’ body back!

You can tighten your tummy with exercise and eating healthy. This can take the same amount of time as your pregnancy if not longer. But it’s achievable if you set your mind to it.

Get yourself more active on a day to day. You’ll find a baby loves a sleep in the pram during the day. This is your perfect chance to get out and about for a walk! Take the stairs instead of the lift and don’t park in the space next to the supermarket door. These are just a few examples. If you would like some more examples on how to stay active in your everyday life check out this blog post from Active Goals!

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A crucial Post-Partum exercise

According to NHS Pelvic floor muscle exercises strengthen the muscles around your bladder, vagina and back passage. This can help to stop incontinence, treat prolapse and make sex better, too.

This is how they explain to do these exercises:

You can do this exercise lying down, sitting or standing. With practise, it can be done anywhere and at any time – even while you’re watching TV:

  • Squeeze and draw in your back passage as if you’re holding in wind.
  • Squeeze around your vagina and bladder tube (urethra) as if you’re stopping the flow of urine or squeezing during intercourse.
  • Now relax. This is a short squeeze. Rest for a second, then repeat these squeezes until you feel the muscles get tired.
  • After a short rest, squeeze again as above. This time, hold the squeeze for as long as you can, but no longer than 10 seconds, then relax.
  • It’s important to keep breathing normally while you do these exercises. Make sure you don’t pull in your stomach or squeeze your buttocks when you squeeze.
  • Aim to build up to 10 repeats of each exercise, four to six times a day.

These you will find are the main exercises to do just after having a baby. Depending on your birth your midwife/GP may advise for you not to do anything for 6 weeks. So do check with a healthcare professional before starting any form of exercise.

My next blog will be all about how to get your youthful body back after having a baby (from 6 weeks post-partum).

I do hope my blog on pregnancy and postpartum fitness has helped you. Please feel free to leave feedback.

Thanks for reading! XX

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