One thing I’ve really struggled with, both physically and mentally, is not being able to workout like I am used to. I didn’t workout at all during my first trimester!
I was so incredibly tired and sick, that the thought of exercise wasn’t even an option! Don’t get me wrong I tried a few times, we had an RwL programme to finish filming and it would have been really weird if I was only in 7 weeks of a 12 week plan 😅🤦🏽♀ so I had to get on with it. I took a lot more breaks than I usually would and got the job done but I had no intention of making it a regular thing.
We all lead different lifestyles before falling pregnant, and no two pregnancies are the same and so I think acceptance is really important. If you have a active lifestyle, like me, and suddenly your life is naps; having your head down a toilet and being home a lot more than normal - it’s a huge lifestyle change to stop all of that. So I do feel that you just have to accept this is the way it is for now and try not to fight it.
From my personal experience, my advice would be listen to your body. If it tells you that you are unable to workout, then don’t! A few months off isn’t the end of the world and try not to feel any guilt. I really struggled with guilt as I was eating a very poor diet and not training, but it’s what my body wanted, so you have to trust in your body.
Going into my second trimester, even though I still get a little tired and I am occasionally sick; I feel a million times better! I’ve slowly got my diet back to normal now that not everything makes me want to puke! I’ve also added regular 30 minute workouts and I feel great! BUT remember if you have been told by your doctor that you aren’t allowed to train during pregnancy or don’t feel that you are able to, so what!? You are growing a human! You are amazing!
Over to the expert...
Jenny Newton is an Educational Expert qualified in Prenatal Fitness and provides us with some expert insight into exercising during pregnancy!
Obviously a woman’s body goes through many changes throughout pregnancy and so to understand how exercise can support and help these changes, and to also identify what types and how much exercise the woman can do, let’s explore and understand the physical and psychological changes that a pregnant woman will experience.
👉🏼 Weight gain. A total of approximately 21 to 33lb (7lb -11lb = maternal fat / 7lb-11lb = baby & placenta / 7lb-11lb = increased blood volume and fluid)
👉🏼 Posture and centre of gravity changes (lordosis of the lumbar spine, anterior tilt of the pelvis)
👉🏼 Backache (due to the increased lordosis in the lumbar spine)
👉🏼 Diastasis recti (linea alba) occurs in around 66% of pregnant woman (the separation of the abdominal muscles)
👉🏼 Pelvic floor muscles are put under stress and can weaken and may cause incontinence
👉🏼 Increase in the hormone relaxin to soften tissues, ligaments, cartilage and the cervix to prepare for labour
👉🏼 Insulin resistance – this is when the cells of the body become resistant to the effects of insulin (they are unable to take on the glucose that is broken down from carbohydrates) to ensure that sufficient amounts of glucose is transported to the baby to support growth, this results In an increase in the storage of maternal fat as the woman will use fat as energy
👉🏼 An increase in blood volume (vasodilation) that’s the pink glow we all talk about, or it could be from throwing up all morning!
👉🏼 Swelling and bloating (caused from an increase in the retention of water and salt and increased blood volume)
👉🏼 Changes in body temperature regulation (may sweat quicker)
👉🏼 Changes in breathing and heart rate
👉🏼 Sleeping difficulties
👉🏼 Confidence issues
👉🏼 Changes in body image
👉🏼 Loss of identity
👉🏼 Changes in appetite
Exercise is the Answer!
So as you can see from the extensive list above a pregnant woman will experience many changes in just 9 months and so ‘being a mum of two myself’ I can assure you that any ways of helping make these changes slightly more bearable, are welcomed with open arms.
For many years the general advice for a pregnant woman was to rest, put her feet up and be wrapped in cotton wool! Well thank heavens for science and a proven understanding that movement and physical exercise is not only beneficial but can actually support the changes of pregnancy to promote health and well-being both during and after pregnancy and birth…… Knowledge is most definitely power!
Here are just some of the benefits of exercising during pregnancy and as you can see, are supportive of the changes listed above:
👉🏼 Prevents excessive weight gain and supports a speedier weight loss for post labour
👉🏼 Prepare the body for postural changes by strengthening muscles that may become weak
👉🏼 Strengthen both abdominal and pelvic floor muscles to support labour and post-natal recovery
👉🏼 Reduce the risk of gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) which affects 1 in 300 pregnant woman
👉🏼 Maintains or can improve the efficiency of the respiratory and circulatory systems to support the changes in heart rate, breathing rate and blood volume. This will also support the demands of pregnancy and labour.
👉🏼 Reduce the risk of pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy)
👉🏼 Improvements in the ability to dissipate heat
👉🏼 Improved body awareness and confidence
👉🏼 Release of endorphins to improve happiness and well being
👉🏼 Maintain a sense of own identity
👉🏼 Supports improved sleep patterns
👉🏼 Maintains or can improve muscular strength and endurance to support the demands of pregnancy, labour and being a mummy (car seats are heavy!!)
👉🏼 Reduces backache, bloating and swelling
👉🏼 Increased energy
👉🏼 Improved overall pregnancy management
👉🏼 Easier, shorter and less painful labour (now if that’s not a reason to exercise, then I don’t know what is!)
So what’s the plan?
Now of course a military style hard-core boot-camp session or 10 rounds with Mike Tyson in the boxing ring is not the best idea when growing a little human but as we have discovered exercise is fantastic, so here’s a few do’s and don’ts for each trimester
The Final Word
As we have previously explored, a woman’s body from the very start of pregnancy starts to recognise that there is an increased demand on the body as a direct result of the growing baby.
To allow the body to cope with these demands, it will very cleverly start to make changes to increase the body’s functional and physiological capacity and capability to sustain the pregnancy.
If we bring exercise in to this natural development, we increase the safety margin already provided by the physiological adaptations made by the female’s body, as well as help the body increase its functional capacity, such as cardiovascular and respiratory capabilities and muscular strength and endurance, all of which will help support the pregnancy, labour and post pregnancy.
Try It for Yourself!If you've been given the all clear by your Doctor/Midwife to workout during your pregnancy then why not try this workout out for yourself? This is just one of our workouts from our Pre-Natal plan suitable from 12 weeks of pregnancy to 38 weeks!🤰🏻
To sum up, the more we know about the changes the body goes through and reasons behind the changes during pregnancy, the more this will allow us to use exercise to compliment these changes and support the body as it looks to protect both mother and baby.
This in turn allows health and fitness professionals to prescribe a routine that will safely and effectively help any woman, (with the absence of any contraindications) through their pregnancy, making exercise during pregnancy a safe, positive and worthwhile path to consider for all women.