As women’s bodies change and grow on the pregnancy journey, fitness and exercise also starts to look a little different. It can be hard to navigate through this time and understand how much movement is enough. Although every pregnancy is different, generally speaking - we are here to take some of the guesswork out of this wonderful wild ride you’ve embarked on, and make some safe suggestions for exercise on your pregnancy journey.
Research has shown that movement and exercise during pregnancy is beneficial for overall health, as well as bubba’s delivery and your recovery. Health experts say that maintaining strength and flexibility during your pregnancy and up until labour will create less back pain and constipation and therefore better digestion. It also minimises chances of common pregnancy nuances like sciatica. In terms of specific exercise and recommendations from professionals, 9 months is a long time, so let’s break it up per trimester. But before we jump into the first 12 weeks of pregnant life, if you are planning your pregnancy, in the lead up to conception it’s recommended that you focus some attention on your lower abs and pelvic floor muscles. Strengthening these muscles pre pregnancy will really help to support your body during and after your birth journey.
First trimester: During this time mothers commonly feel quite fatigued, which makes sense because growing organs is tiring work. Morning sickness can mean a lack of wanting to exercise or do much at all. It’s important to listen to your body and slow down as much as you need in the first trimester. Aiming for some really light movement like a few short walks a week is probably enough of a goal during this period if that’s all your energy will permit.
Second trimester: The second trimester can be the best time to train, most sicknesses have passed and the bump isn’t too big that it interferes with training most areas of the body. If you’ve been training regularly prior to your pregnancy and during your first trimester, you may find it easy to keep this level of fitness up during your second trimester. If you haven’t been up to exercising during the first trimester, no need to worry - start slow and incrementally increase your training to a point where you feel comfortable. The most important thing is not to shy away from exercise and movement as your bump grows. Adding in some light leg weights here will help you carry your bump more easily and take some pressure off your back.
Third trimester: It’s only natural to move a little slower the bigger your bump grows. Trimester three is all about doing what feels comfortable and right for your body. However, a hot tip here is to focus on some arm strength where possible. That little bubba is going to want to be held 24/7 and having the arm strength to support a continual hold of the little bundle of joy will make each embrace a little easier and a lot sweeter.
Post pregnancy: The most important thing to remember when it comes to exercising after birth is not to jump back into things too quickly. Your body needs time to heal and you shouldn’t recommence exercise until you’ve received clearance from your doctor. Even if you are feeling restless and just want to go for a slow walk around the block. There’s the chance of doing some damage (like tearing open some stitches) that may push your recovery time back further - so it’s best just to wait until you’ve got the all clear.
If there’s one takeaway from all of this, it’s to remember that your body is designed to do this, and what it’s doing is nothing short of miraculous - you’ve got this girl! Speak as kindly to yourself as you would to another pregnant mumma, and think of all the benefits (and maybe some post exercise treats) while you’re moving your body. Enjoy the journey!
~This blog was informed by a certified Strength & Conditioning Coach, but should be treated as general advice only. For personalised exercise & fitness advice, please refer to a professional that understands your physicality and medical history.