Training & Pregnancy

Pregnancy is overwhelming. Alright, that’s probably an understatement. Pregnancy is downright scary.

There’s so much information and experience out there, choosing what’s right for you is hard. But that’s exactly what you need to do, choose what is right for you.

Since pregnancy itself is a bit of an information overload, I thought I’d take some time to clear up a few guidelines surrounding working out while pregnant.

I think we can all agree that we are beyond the days of women being intensely breakable while pregnant. Sure, some movements are going to be challenging, and much of pregnancy is dependent on the shape you were previously in. But self proclaiming bed rest is not exactly necessary.

So let’s start with a few benefits of being active while pregnant. Obviously the list can escalate but here are the top ones:

Pros Of Training While Pregnant
  • Pain relief
  • Stress relief
  • Smoother labour
  • Improved healing post-partum

And while those may seem pretty basic let’s discuss the specific why’s & how’s that training can help.

Pain ReliefPain relief concept.

As you progress in your pregnancy you gain weight (which is good!). Unfortunately, your postural muscles also shift due to a new center of gravity as well as the excess weight gain. This shift can cause a lot of pain through the low back, the neck and upon weight bearing joints (knees/hips/ankles).

Being active, or more specifically working out, helps alleviate some of that pain. By strengthening the postural muscles and stretching the newly tightened muscles, the low back becomes more stable. Increasing strength through weight bearing joints and strengthening the muscles around them aids the body to support the extra weight without causing pain.

Stress Relief

Feeling overwhelmed? Have a to-do list the size of the CN Tower? Take a step away and do something for yourself: be active. It’s no secret that working out boosts endorphins giving you a bit of a happy rush. Take advantage of that while pregnant so that you’re more focused when you need to be about everything else.

 

Smooth LaborUltimate challenge

Let’s face it, giving birth is the ultimate fitness challenge. And some of labour will depend upon your pre-pregnancy fitness level. Some if it will also depend on circumstances at the time. But it doesn’t mean you can’t be prepared. Training your body to endure stress (like the stress of a workout) through physical activity will allow it to perform better when it’s called to a action (like during labor)

 

Post-Partum Healing: We spend so much time focusing on the pregnancy that we often overlook what occurs after. No matter what kind of delivery you choose, your body will need time to heal. By working out throughout your pregnancy, your body will have learned how to adapt to stress and recovery- which is exactly what is needed after giving birth.

So have I sold you on being active throughout pregnancy yet? I hope so! So now what? I am constantly asked by clients if they can (insert anything) while pregnant. Rock climb? Pole dance? Weight lift? Anything. And the answer?

It depends.

As much as I hate to give it, it really does depend on the individual themselves. Below are some general guidelines for the active person. Remember, every situation is unique but here are a few things to take into consideration.

First off, and most importantly, talk to your doctor! If you have any hereditary risks, or any pregnancy complications that may contraindicate you from exercise.

While each person is different, here are a few general guidelines to think over.

First Trimester

If you were active prior to becoming pregnant, keep doing what you’re doing. This is with the exception of kickboxing in which you may be taking direct hits to the stomach. Ensure you’re not learning anything new, for example, as a pole dancer, new tricks would be a no go, and reduce your risk of falling.

If you were not active prior to becoming pregnant, weight until the second trimester to begin an exercise program. If you’re desperate to do something, start walking. Simple moving will help with stress relief and give you something to do.

Second Trimester

For those of you who previously worked out, you can continue what you were doing still. However you will want to minimize pushing too hard. Also, as you gain more weight, you need to take in the type of exercise you’re doing. With the exception of some (previous hard core runners), any bouncing/jumping exercises should be removed. As should supinated exercises- where you’re laying directly on your back with feet in the air. These types of exercises can restrict air flow to the baby. Instead, modify and use an incline. As you progress through your pregnancy you’ll naturally have to scale back your intensity.

If you were not previously active, clear it with your doctor and begin an exercise program. This could include group classes, at home workouts, pilates, walking, swimming etc. The goal should be to stay active but not go “all out”. Lighter workouts are best.

This goes for both types of pregnancies, the focus of your workouts should be to aid in newly developed postural imbalances and stay active. In other words, do what feels good. You know your body best, if something feels wrong, it probably is and it’s the time to stop.

Third Trimester

This last bit is greatly dependant on the individual. So long as you are having a risk free pregnancy exercise is fine, but know your limits. Exercise because it feels good and to stay mobile- it’s not the end of the world if you miss a workout.

Exercise during this time should be low intensity. Getting your heart rate too high can cause risks to the baby so ensure you’re able to talk (and not talk gaspy!) through the whole workout. Don’t feel bad about scaling back but embrace what you’re able to do.

Like people themselves, every pregnancy is different. Be open with your doctor and communicate with them how you’re feeling. If you are training while pregnant, get advice on specific programs from a certified professional. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for an instructors certifications. Meaning, just because they work for a great company doesn’t mean they are properly certified. Training pre (and post) natal is very different from regular training and should be programmed accordingly.

For those of you with more questions, feel free to contact me. As a Certified Pre & Post Natal Specialist I can definitely help point you in the right direction! Pregnancy is a little bit of everything and can be very intimidating- don’t be shy to ask for help.