“Why you should make exercise a priority in pregnancy”
We are fully aware exercising is part of a healthy routine and lifestyle. It is also extremely beneficial during pregnancy for maintaining overall body mobility, which is great not only for you but bubba too. There are a multitude of reasons to maintain our fitness during pregnancy and it has nothing to do with the look of our body but rather our overall wellness.
The main benefits include cardiovascular fitness and strength, setting valuable routines and goals, improved mobility and suppleness, increase immunity, breathing techniques and mental health. By making our exercise a priority we increase our babies health. We also gain abilities to cope with the amplified pressure placed upon our body during pregnancy improving our abilities to thrive while baby is growing inside. Exercise during pregnancy is perfectly safe and also postpartum as long as a few pregnancy specific modificationsare followed.
The first priority is to maintain regular cardiovascular fitness by walking daily for 30 minutes in the morning as it will improve posture, increase mental mood, build stamina for labor and decrease discomforts of backaches and fatigue.
Strength training including weights and gym machines are highly encouraged. Lifting weights increases muscle tone and shape. During pregnancy complete more repetitions but use lighter weights as the pregnancy progresses. This is especially through the final trimester. Begin postpartum exercise with light strength training using no more than 5kg hand weights and less repetition (6-8) until the body is healed approximately six weeks after birth.. During the postpartum recovery a body rebuild can be made using gym machines to strengthen, as it encourages mobility and the machines support the body and reduce injury. These are dependent upon varying birth recovery and always consult your doctor.
Yoga and Pilates during pregnancy will encourage flexibility and improve posture to support the body in the new growing weight addition. By completing varying hip openers it will alleviate pregnancy backaches and provide stress relief when hormones take over. Pilates and yoga provide a low impact muscle lengthening. Reformer Pilates can be completed throughout all trimesters as it supports the core and use pelvic floor exercises to encourage strength. Stretching daily will also help to maintain suppleness and improved breathing techniques for labor and overall parenting and Mama life.
Swimming also benefits baby and Mama during pregnancy, as the water is buoyant and supportive. The cool water is calming and reduces discomfort. The feeling of weightlessness in the water relieves joints and will work away any water retention in the body. Not only that baby will be lulled into peacefulness in the swimming motion.
By making time for your own health goals during pregnancy it encourages good routine building, which is the key to mental wellness. By allowing guilt free Mama time and establishing these personal goals they allow better coping and balance. By completing them during the pregnancy it’s been proven to alleviate aspects of postnatal depression. It also benefits you to establish the plan for the early days of parenthood. By beginning the new routines early it can actually help you to be a happier Mama.
The most practical pregnancy workouts are:
First Trimester– walking, light running, strength based training, yoga, bike riding and basic twisting and spine rotational abdominals exercises.
Second Trimester– walking; light running, strength based training using high repetition and light weight, gym machines, yoga, Pilates, swimming and stationary bike sessions.
Final Trimester– walking, swimming, yoga, strength – limit all abdominal exercises, Pilates, gym machines and peaceful stretch.
The exercise and training regime postpartum needs to focus on nurturing the body. By maintaining a wellness focus and keeping in mind ‘that it took 9 months to get here and it will take 9 months to return’.The emphasis is kindness and body love and always monitor fatigue levels and injury. Our reproductive organs take six weeks minimum to return to their original size. Over this time the pregnancy hormones have increases elasticity in connective tissues, ligaments and muscles. These postpartum hormonal changes can also affect women mentally, making us more inclined to experience low mood. Motheringoften creates physical isolation from other adults.However by making exercise a priority we are forced out of the house into the fresh air to mentally and physically reboot.
The best piece of advice I can give; is to spend at least some of your precious time looking after yourself: eat highly nutritious quality food, take a yoga or Pilates class, meet up with friends and take bubba, walk and enjoy the outdoors. Read a book or watch a movie and stretch, or treat yourself to a massage. Your body and mind will thank you for it.
We must remember pregnancy and motherhood forces women into a new kind of self-sufficiency. The only way forward is by drawing on inner resources to balanceand usingexercise as the scalesto centre the body and mind. Mothers have to serve the needs of others,so we must find a way to nourish and love ourselves. Exercising provides self worth and is personal strength building. If we acknowledge and prioritise it as a need and as our deserved time to take care of our self; it is the only way we can go the distancefor our family and us.
Health and Happiness,