There is no doubt about it …women who exercise with correct form and posture when pregnant will return to shape faster and more effectively than those that do not. Research has also shown that the right form of exercise can certainly shorten the second stage of labour and improve post birth recovery.
Important Pregnancy Exercise Tips
If you are exercising during pregnancy, here’s some important tips about maintaining correct form to support your growing pregnant body. To ensure these exercises are done effectively, I highly recommended you see a pregnancy exercise specialist or join my #BFabSquad.
- Correct and effective form whilst exercising during (and after) pregnancy, means using positions that encourage your spine to support itself in the neutral position during exercise.
- To maintain a neutral spine: don’t flatten your lower back, arch your spine, grip your glutes or suck in your lower core.
- At the start of each exercise ensure your shoulders are directly over your ribs – this will maintain correct posture and will help avoid excessive abdominal separation.
- Maintain an effective Core Breath – this is an essential foundation for all pregnancy exercise.
- Avoid exercises with machines or devices that build power in the limbs with a passive or non-supported spine.
- Sit on a yoga block or large firm exercise ball (hips must be higher than knees) to help maintain a neutral spine position and to provide extra support to your pelvic floor
- Lower the resistance or weight-lifting levels as pregnancy progresses. Never sacrifice good form. Work with a certified trainer to achieve this.
- Resistance training is fantastic, but remember it augments everything—both the good and the bad. While always essential, maintaining good form is absolutely crucial during pregnancy. As your pregnancy advances and the weight of your baby grows, it will become more difficult for you to maintain a neutral spine. Always lower the resistance or weight load to where you can maintain proper positioning without undue effort.
Remember listen to your body, trust your body and stay within a zone that you feel is safe for you and your baby.
What exercise to avoid while pregnant :
- Horse riding, skiing, squash or vigorous ball and racket sports, gymnastics and ice-skating can all be very risky.
- Contact sports such as football, netball and basketball can all pose problems as well, particularly in the third trimester when pregnancy changes the mother’s centre of balance and falling is more likely.
- Sudden, intense and rigorous exercise programmes are best avoided during pregnancy. The ideal way to go is to start slow and build up gradually. You are much better doing this and avoiding an injury which could mean you are immobile for weeks.
- Overheating or becoming dehydrated. Any exercise which cause your body temperature to increase by more than 1 degree Celsius need to be avoided.
- Avoid exercising when the weather is very hot or within steam rooms or saunas, you do not want to overheat.
- Avoid over training and becoming over fatigued and exhausted. Your body is working very hard in growing and supporting your baby. All the energy you have needs to be divided between your normal every day metabolism, daily activities and your pregnancy. Train with a pregnancy exercise specialist who can guide you through safe exercises and ensure you gain energy rather than lose it.
Stop exercising if you experience any of the following symptoms :
- Vaginal bleeding, contractions, your membranes have ruptured or you are showing signs that your labour may have started.
- Leakage – urinary incontinence is very common during pregnancy and after and is nothing to be ashamed of. It just means your pelvic floor needs some extra attention. Don’t dismiss it – your pelvic floor is just another muscle that can be re-trained and re-strengthened and ignoring these symptoms could lead to a prolapse. See a Certifed Trainer, Women’s Health Physio and check out the fantastic app at Pelvic Floor First.
- If you have a headache, your blood pressure is elevated; you have all over swelling or have been diagnosed with Pre-eclampsia.
- If you have heart disease or problems with your blood pressure being too low or high.
- If your baby is not growing as well as it should be or if growth is retarded. If you are not gaining an adequate amount of weight through your pregnancy and have been advised to rest and conserve energy.
- If you feel faint, light headed or generally unwell.
- If your baby is not as active as it has been or you are worried about its movements.
- Above all if it doesn’t feel right – don’t do it ! Trust your instincts.
You have made a fantastic decision to start or continue exercising while pregnant.
Many mothers worry that exercising may have a negative impact on how securely their baby stays attached to the uterine wall. Visions of their baby swinging like tarzan holding onto the umbilical cord are enough to scare the most relaxed mother !
However, there is no evidence to support this fear and many others…..check out my LIVE video discussing some of these old wives tales.
Babies are designed to ensure their survival and only in abnormal and extreme circumstances is exercise likely to cause problems leading to miscarriage. After experiencing a miscarriage myself, I know that the unfortunate truth is that if a mother is going to miscarry, it will happen anyway, no matter how much exercise she does.
Similar to all exercise programs, when pregnant, aim to find something you like and which you’re more likely to keep up. Try for 15 minutes of exercise at least twice a week, that is fun (and it doesn’t just have to be walking…learn here why !)
Wants some more ideas on correct form and correct exercises ?
Dahlas Fletcher is one of Australia’s most respected and successful certified and experienced Pregnancy and Female Fitness Trainers. Her goal is to help you be the happiest, most fabulous version of yourself, inside and out.