We all know that keeping active is important for good general health but during pregnancy it can have a whole range of benefits. Melissa Folly, Spinavita Chiropractor explores the role exercise plays in pregnancy.
According to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, exercising during pregnancy can lead to a lower incidence of:
- preterm birth
- cesarean birth
- excessive weight gain
- gestational diabetes or hypertensive disorders such as preeclampsia
- lower birth weight
It’s also an excellent way to:
- reduce low back pain
- manage symptoms of depression and anxiety
- reduce stress
- improve postpartum recovery
There will be a lot of activities that you will need to remove from your regime but still a lot you can do. Here are some general safety tips to consider when exercising during pregnancy.
- Get clearance from your doctor if you’re new to exercise or you have any health conditions that may contraindicate exercise.
- Drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercise.
- Wear supportive clothing such a supportive sports bra and suitable shoes
- Don’t become overheated.
- Avoid lying flat on your back for too long, especially during the third trimester.
- Avoid contact sports and hot yoga. Different exercises are beneficial in each trimester to support the body through its physical changes while preparing for an easier return to exercise postpartum.
First Trimester Weeks 1-13
As long as you’re not considered a high-risk pregnancy and you feel well enough, you can generally continue with a regular exercise routine in the first trimester. Consider a range of moderate cardiovascular and weight exercises. You should also focus on posture and core exercises that help make pregnancy easier and prepare you for labour and childbirth. Here are my favourite first trimester exercises:
- Brisk or hill walking with some interval jogging
- Yoga or Pilates– always great if you can get to along to a local class especially if you’re new to this
- Kneeling push-ups
- Biceps Curls + Triceps Dips
- Squats + Lunges
First Trimester Weeks 13-27
You’ll now be starting to showing a bump and will need to start to vary the intensity and type of exercises. I recommend patients to remove any high impact exercise that involves jumping, running, or exhaustion. You also want to avoid any exercise that has you lying on your back for extended periods of time. Second trimester top recommendations:
- Walking at a pace and duration you’re comfortable with
- Pregnancy Yoga or Pilates – now specific to pregnancy these will begin to focus on the changes taking place to your body.
- Swimming – or just walking and being in the water
- Incline Push ups
- Side laying leg lifts
- Upper body weights
Third Trimester Weeks 28 – 40+
Now you are likely to begin to notice a slowdown as your body begins to prepare for labour and childbirth. This is a great time to really let your body rest and focus on light cardiovascular activities whilst keeping up your mobility and strength with activity that feels good for you. My third trimester recommendations are:
- Regular but shorter walking
- Swimming and spending time in the water
- Prenatal Yoga + Pilates
- Pelvic floor exercises
- Low- weight exercise especially for the upper body whilst sitting to avoid balance issues
- Meditation for mindfulness
Staying physically active during pregnancy has great benefits for both mother and baby. Including some form of exercise most days of the week can help keep your core strong, your muscles fit, and your cardiovascular system in good shape. Plus, it can do wonders for your mental health. Always make sure to listen to your body and stop if you feel any discomfort or pain. Talk with your Midwife, Doctor or Chiropractor if you have any questions or concerns about how your body is responding to an exercise programme.
By Melissa Folly