Exercising when Pregnant – what to do…

One of the questions I get asked all the time is

                           

“can I take IsoWhey while pregnant?”

The answer (unlike nearly ALL our competitors) is Yes! But this got me thinking about the number of people who are pregnant for the first time and have sooo many questions about…well, everything! – including Fitness. There is a lot of media attention these days on how JLo, Posh & Miranda get back their pre-pregnancy bodies in such a short time – and this places tremendous pressure on young mums to do the same, except without all the trappings of personal chefs and PT’s (although don’t forget with IsoWhey you do get myself and Janine as yours!).

As with a lot of things FItness, there are a lot of myths out there regarding pregnancy. Many thought that when you got pregnant, it was a time to rest and do less to best protect your baby, this is now known not to be the case, so I wanted to try to answer more questions for new or prospective mums (and dad’s!), as part of being able to get back your pre-pregnancy body, depends on how you exercise while you are pregnant.

Now, it is important to note that when you discover you are pregnant you DO need to be aware of what you can or cannot do & exercise caution to ensure there are no contraindications to your health or pre-existing conditions. I recommend consulting with your healthcare practitioner in regard to this. How you exercise during pregnancy partly depends on your exercise regime before you became pregnant and your general level of fitness.

Part of the reasoning behind the old myth of taking it easy is due to the fact that when you become pregnant your body goes through quite a number of hormonal changes in preparation for the birth. These include increases in the levels of relaxin, elastin, estrogen and progesterone – which soften the connective tissues around the joints, particularly the pelvis, but it also effects the knees & ankles. It is here especially that you would need to be careful so as to not injure yourself by overextending these joints.
In addition to this your blood volume will also increase by up to 30-50%, therefore increasing your resting heart rate (HR) and so the % of your max HR you work out to, especially doing cardio. You will also have abdominal changes to your muscles and uterus, larger breasts and a softening of the pelvic girdle which may effect posture.

So, how can exercise help your pregnancy?…

 

Help strengthen your body for birth & assist in coping with changes
Develop good breathing techniques
Pain management / endurance
Strengthen postural muscles and those of the abdomen
Promote better sleeping patterns
Help release the ‘feel good’ endorphins, help you ‘feel in control’
Pregnancy exercise assists in getting the pre baby body back
Improve self image, assist with bloating & constipation.
Improve balance (with change of gravity) & falls prevention

Be aware that your energy levels may change as the pregnancy develops and the baby presses on certain organs (e.g lungs). Employ the ‘talk test’ – you should be able to still have a conversation to know you’re working out to the correct level. DON’T become overheated (especially in summer), keep hydrated and avoid contact sports (including skiing & riding) & jarring of joints. You can still run, but modify it (no marathon training!), don’t use up all your oxygen – you need more for baby! I would recommend getting a HR monitor to check your heart rate, plus if you’re ever 2500m above sea level (well..you never know..!) again beware of lack of oxygen, you’ll need to aclimatise!

So what exercises would I recommend? –

Pilates, it’s fantastic for protecting the lower back area, building stronger abdominal muscles for pelvic floor exercises AND developing good breathing technique.
(Note: do not lie on your back, especially after week 16, the weight of the baby may press on large blood vessels and cause faintness.)

Yoga, like above, good for core work and general strength & balance AND calming the mind!

Swimming, especially during latter stages as the water makes you feel weightless & you’ll utilise ALL your muscles.

Gym classes in general, particularly early stages, though always check first (many are actually geared toward pregnancy!), avoid any heavy lifting or jumping too much and with spin, modify the intensity.

Try to incorporate at least 3 PELVIC FLOOR exercises a day to your routine, by squeezing & releasing the muscles x10 times approx (to do this you draw the belly button towards the spine and pull UP on the pelvic floor), as if you’re trying to stop going to the toilet, also do before a sneeze or a cough!

To finish with my first question, nutrition is very important at this time, though the cravings may be a tad more unusual! – you’ll be eating for at least two, IsoWhey is great to take while pregnant, as a healthy supplement drink, or for breakfast, not of course for weight loss! 

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