Whether you’re keeping fit or getting fit during pregnancy, there is a path for you… you just need to find it, says Claire-Marie Lewis
When it comes to putting strain on your body, few things have the same impact as pregnancy and labour. That said, fewer things have the same reward!
The NHS website reminds us that exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous to be efficient, so if seeing that second line appear has incentivised you to get fit, start by doing fifteen minutes of aerobic activity three times a week. That could be cycling, fast walking, jogging, swimming or even dancing.
Over time, increase this to thirty minutes four times per week and you’ll not only be increasing your cardiovascular fitness but also benefiting from the happy endorphins that come from raising your pulse rate. You’ll also find yourself sleeping more easily as a result.
Top tip: Remember that during pregnancy you have an increased amount of blood in your system so you will need to drink even more water than usual while exercising.
Adapting your current routine
If you are already a regular at the gym, there’s no need to suddenly stop exercising just because you’re expecting. Making a few modifications to your usual routine and understanding your new limits will keep you fit right up until the big day.
Speak to a trainer or staff member and let them know you’re pregnant. They should be able to help you adjust your usual training plan. By the end of the third trimester your 10k treadmill run might have morphed into a 10-minute walk, but If you usually attend spin or dance classes, let your teacher know about your baby and he or she can help you bring it down when necessary or adjust the movements to accommodate your changing shape and centre of gravity.
If you usually take part in combative exercise classes such judo or karate, it’s best to take a break until after your baby arrives, not just to protect your baby but also to protect yourself. A hormone called relaxin renders your ligaments extra stretchy during pregnancy. This loosens your joints to make space for the baby and this can make you more prone to injury.
There are a plethora of pregnancy yoga and Pilates classes out there and you can also buy DVDs or visit YouTube for great workouts to follow. If you’re already a yoga or Pilates regular, remember that lying on your front after week 12 or your back after week 16 of pregnancy is not recommended, so omit poses with that requirement from your workout.
Top tip: If you’re looking for pregnancy-specific exercises, focusing on your core and pelvic floor is the way to go.
Getting back in shape after the birth
Once your beautiful new baby has arrived it can feel like the first question on everybody’s lips is how you plan to get your ‘pre-baby body’ back. The best tip out there is don’t pressure yourself. Enjoy your tiny baby, let your body rest and recover, and when your doctor says you’re well enough to do so and you feel ready, ease yourself back into your regime.
One great way to get started again is to take your baby out for a gentle walk in the stroller. Remember that you have all the time in the world. No matter how fit you kept yourself during pregnancy, your body will have changed dramatically. Your core muscles and pelvic floor have been stretched out and they won’t just spring back. Your back, hips and ribs are all slowly recovering from bearing the weight of your child and from helping you push him or her into this world. It’s okay not to hit the ground running. In fact, don’t hit the ground running at all!
Top tip: If you are feeling self-conscious about your new body, working out at home is a brilliant way to get back to it. You can even use your baby as a weight for lunges and squats, or for walking if you have a sling.
Whichever type of exercise you choose, you’ll start feeling more like yourself in no time. Remember that you’ll be more tired than ever before so don’t push yourself too hard.
What to wear?
Finding fitness clothes to accommodate your changing shape can be one of the main challenges of staying healthy during and after pregnancy, but there are plenty of specialist brands out there. If you don’t want to splash out on a whole new fitness wardrobe, ensure that your breasts (and bump if you’re currently pregnant) are well supported and that you won’t overheat.
Trampolining is a really fun way to exercise with kids or friends once you’ve had plenty of time to recover from the birthing process and are ready for something more energetic. You’ll burn calories without even thinking about it and enjoy hanging out with your kids at the same time.
Cara Bradney from Rainbow Play says: ‘According to Nasa statistics, ten minutes bouncing on a trampoline is the equivalent of a 30-minute jog. It’s better for you core and is low-impact exercise, so it’s easier on your joints.’
If you’re thinking of buying your own, Springfree trampolines are safe for all the family to use, not to mention super fun! Check out the Springfree blog for top tips on which trampoline to buy and how to use yours most effectively.