Being pregnant is a cause of celebration but it also means that your body will be undergoing some pretty big changes and sufficient preparation is required. Preparation For the fit woman, it can be a time of confusion and misinformation. Some of the questions that might be running through your mind are:
- What can I do to stay in shape?
- How is my changing body going to affected by exercise?
- Are there exercises I should or shouldn’t do while pregnant?
- How much is too much – or too little?
First of all, remember that you and your doctor are the best gauges of what your pregnant body should or should not be doing. Don’t just follow old wives’ tales that others may have told you of such as ‘you shouldn’t get your heart rate up above 130” and “you shouldn’t lift weights, job or run” blindly as these are not necessarily true for the modern, fit woman.
Instead, avoid movements that make you feel sick, strained, or dizzy. Conversely, movements that make you feel energised, rejuvenated, and vibrant will keep you feeling your best throughout your 40 pregnant weeks. While you should listen to your body and make modifications when necessary, for most healthy women, your ‘normal’ fitness routine can be happily maintained throughout pregnancy.
That said, there are some activities that are highly advised against during your pregnancy and you should avoid:
- Extreme sports (baby might not appreciate horseback riding, surfing, downhill skiing, or gymnastics).
- Exercises that require you to lie flat on your back after the first trimester (supine bridge pose or propping your lower back on pillows is fine!).
- Exercises with a great deal of up and down movements from the floor (due to shifts in balance and center of gravity).
- Exercises that encourage hyper-flexibility (some forms of yoga, like Bikram, capitalise on the naturally occurring relaxing in the body and can cause you to overstretch and injure your connective tissues).
- Exercises that raise your body temperature suddenly and quickly (make sure to enjoy a gradual warm-up, especially when getting your workout on in Singapore’s heat and humidity!).
Instead focus on other types of exercise to stay in shape during your pregnancy. Keeping your abdominals strong with a combination of isometric (like planks) and isokinetic (like belly breathing and pelvic tilts) core exercises is crucial for both an effective labor and easier recovery post-partum.
Walking, swimming, and light yoga tend to feel best, and working with a trainer or exercise instructor on a program that incorporates weights, bands, or other resistance training tools will help you maintain your strength and feel capable as you train for labour.
How much exercise should you be doing?
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends 150 weekly minutes (about 30 minutes per day, five out of seven days) of moderate-intensity exercise to stay fit throughout your pregnancy.
Remember that during these periods of activity, you will need to drink more water and replenish your exercise-related calorie deficit with healthy food. You should also keep your body cool with sweat-wicking clothing and cold towels when possible, and stop if you feel dizzy, weak, achy, or experience any abnormal spotting, swelling, or contractions.
When you’re busy nursing your infant, toting around your six-month old, and eventually chasing your toddler around the house you’ll be glad you took the time to stay in shape during your pregnancy and beyond.