Pre & Postnatal Fitness
There are many benefits to keeping active and working out throughout pregnancy. Studies have shown that women who keep active during pregnancy find it helps with their sleep. Sleep is something that many pregnant women often find difficult in particular around the third trimester of pregnancy. Exercise and keeping active will also help with better circulation and with energy levels. Studies show that pregnant women who workout consistency have an easier labour.
If you are unsure of exercising whilst pregnant consult your doctor to confirm it is safe for you to do so. During pregnancy it is important to start with uncomplicated exercises. The main focus on exercising during pregnancy is health and wellbeing. Focus on physical, emotional and mental health as delivery date gets close and especially after baby arrives.
Certain exercises will need to be avoided such as; floor exercises that require you to lie on your back which do not have support for your head and upper back, for example sit ups. The main focus before and after pregnancy is balance. During pregnancy, as the baby grows the expectant mothers body alignment can change due to the extra weight. This can lead to a shift in muscular and bone structure. I recommend expectant mums to get guidance from a qualified pre and post pregnancy exercise professional for correct exercises and adjustments in form.
Exercises and movements that open up and gently stretch the chest and work the back are recommended. The hips tend to tighten during pregnancy, so it is important to focus on opening up the hips and strengthening the pelvic floor muscles. This will help towards preparing for delivery. There can also be a decrease in mobility during pregnancy so try to concentrate on all planes of movement; front, side etc.
We all know that correct nutrition is important for health and this applies to pre and post pregnancy too. Avoid processed foods and stay away from foods high in sugar and salt. Opt for fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. Try to eat whole foods that are unprocessed and unrefined. Whether we are pregnant or not, hydration is very important – drink water and keep hydrated while pregnant and exercising. Aim to consume two or more litres per day.
During the Post pregnancy stage adopt a daily exercise routine. Once you have got the doctors approval to exercise start gradually and with caution. Few months post pregnancy the body is still misaligned and needs to be eased back gradually into exercise. A new mother will be facing new challenges such as; sleep deprivation, pelvic floor trauma and an increase in the hormone Relaxin and possible other minor changes.
Relaxin is a hormone produced during pregnancy in preparation for childbirth, it relaxes the ligaments in the pelvis and softens and widens the cervix. Relaxin can remain in the body for a year post pregnancy, leaving joints unstable and vulnerable to injury. The pelvic floor will also need to heal and be strengthened. Avoid over vigorous movements such as; jumping, running. Use smaller, controlled movements.
Go for a brisk stroller walk or do a few sets of stretches, crunches or body weight exercises during baby’s nap time.You don’t have to spend a lot of time on working out and exercising. The key is to do something to move your body everyday and most importantly listen to your body.
Thanks for reading!