So you’ve just found out you’re pregnant … now what?
Do I have to alter my workouts immediately? Should I sign up for pregnancy yoga straight away? Is that the end of running? Is it safe to lift weights? Here are 5 things you should know about exercising during pregnancy.
1. Exercising during pregnancy is safe
It is totally safe to do so (unless otherwise advised by a medical professional). So don’t panic there is no reason for you to stop doing what you’re doing. Whether you want to lift weights at cross fit, go running, practice pregnancy yoga or anything in-between*, as long as you feel good doing it then there is no reason why you need to change things up unnecessarily.
* some activities with a high risk of falling are probably best left alone though, so sadly I would avoid gymnastics, ski jumping, wrestling (use your common sense here really) or team ball sports where you’re likely to get knocked into such as netball or rugby.
2. Your heart rate will be higher
Your heart rate will naturally be higher during pregnancy whether you’re exercising or not, because your blood volume will thicken and your heart needs to start pumping more of it around your body. Keep this in mind when exercising and make sure that you are giving your body adequate rest periods to let your heart rate recover. Use the talk test – if I can’t talk comfortably then I’m pushing it too hard!
3. You can try something new
It’s an old wives tale that you can’t start something new whilst you’re pregnant but this doesn’t mean that if you’ve never exercised before you can’t start now. It is a great time to start, but it’s important that you don’t jump in at the deep, or wrong end! It’s probably not the time to decide you want to become a runner, but starting with a pregnancy friendly strength, pilates or yoga class would be brilliant. Always let the instructor know that you are pregnant, even if you have to tell them quietly at the start it’s always safer that they know and can help guide you through any alterations they think are necessary.
4. Relaxin – what does this hormone do?
When you’re pregnant, your ovaries and placenta produce and release a hormone into the body called relaxin. Relaxin is there to do a very important job. It enables the pelvis to expand during birth by increasing the laxity in the ligaments around the pelvis. We definitely want this, but it cannot specifically target only those ligaments. Relaxin will have an effect on ligaments around your whole body. So it’s important that we keep our strength up to support our ligaments in other important places such as our hips, knees, ankles, back as we are slightly more prone to discomfort and even injury in those areas.
5. It’s a long term investment for your mind and body
Exercising in pregnancy isn’t just for the pregnancy bit. Think of it as a long term training plan for the post natal part too. Not only will being strong and fit help you through your pregnancy, but it will also help you during your birth as well as your recovery and return to exercise. Put yourself in the best possible position for your post natal journey by doing the groundwork now. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy but just keeping active will have a huge impact on your journey, both mentally and physically.
It goes without saying that everyone’s pregnancy journeys will look different, so what you choose to do in terms of exercise should suit your body, your lifestyle and most importantly your enjoyment. There is no point in struggling on through something you don’t enjoy, there are plenty of ways you can keep moving so test a few things out if needs be and find what you love to do. Take a look at the Bumps & Burpees Pregnancy Plan to see all of the different classes that are provided through all three trimesters of your pregnancy.
If you are unsure of anything please feel free to DM me, but it is sensible to consult your medical team if you are concerned about anything to do with discomfort/pain or your specific pregnancy in relation to exercise as I cannot advise on that.