Every person is different and every pregnancy is different but, in general, you can exercise most of the way through your pregnancy by making some modification to your exercise program . In fact, the benefits of exercise from the physical standpoint of making labor and recovery from your pregnancy worlds better and the psychological standpoint of reducing stress, makes exercise a great supplement to a healthy pregnancy. First and foremost, after you find out that you are pregnant, you should consult with your physician to find out if there are any contraindications for you when exercising during your pregnancy. Your doctor may put some limitations on heart rate and certain body positions during exercise especially as you progress to the second and third trimester (such as laying on your back late in the pregnancy can cause restrictive blood flow to the fetus and should be broken up with laying on the side or sitting upright every 30 seconds to one minute). Most forms of cardiovascular exercise (such as walking) can be performed when pregnant at a low to moderate intensity. Some woman have even performed endurance sports such as running when pregnant but always ask your doctor what’s appropriate for you during your pregnancy… Once again, all pregnancies are different.
When our trainers work with pregnant women, the exercises that are most influenced during pregnancy are abdominal exercises. As the pregnancy progresses to the second and third trimester, modifications to abdominal exercise have to take place. Abdominal crunch and sit-up type exercises are contraindicated after the fourth month of pregnancy and pelvic tilt type exercises in different body positions are ideal. Abdominal muscles physically separate to make room for the fetus later in the pregnancy so you want to switch to pelvic tilts to keep abdominal muscles strong without risking strained tissue. Pelvic floor exercises (Kegel exercises) are also encouraged during pregnancy for natural child birth.
Resistance training needs to be slightly modify as your pregnancy progresses. How much resistance you lift should reduce while repetitions increase (12-20 reps) the further you are into your pregnancy. Be sure that your form is proper as improper lifting techniques can easily aggravate areas the back when changes occur to posture through your advancing pregnancy. Avoid maximal static lifts (no movement) and holding the breath (valsalva maneuver) because they can cause an increase in blood pressure and sudden demand on the heart. In fact, it’s always recommended that you exhale when you lift load and inhale during the negative (easy) phase of a lift to control blood pressure. Water exercising can be a great way do get in low impact resistance training during your pregnancy if achy joints are making movement difficult, especially late in your pregnancy.
If modifications to your exercise program are properly taken, exercise during pregnancy is a great way to maintain your health and fitness, prepare for a speedy recovery after labor, and feel great! If you are looking for some fitness guidance through your pregnancy, contact us for a free consultation.
Thank you Robyn, Fitness Connection Pilates Instructor, for the great pictures demonstrating yoga during your pregnancy.