5 things a midwife wants you to know about exercising when you’re pregnant

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#4 is really important. 

Photo: Instagram @becwilcock

As most of us know, staying fit and healthy while pregnant looks a whole lot different to staying fit and healthy otherwise. Your body, diet and energy levels are all adjusting to the changes your body is making (of which there are many!) and, accordingly, your fitness program will need to be adjusted accordingly. Here’s where to start, according to a midwife.

  1. Have the conversation

Check in with your midwife or doctor before embarking on an exercise program during pregnancy. This is a really vital step to help identify any medical conditions that could affect your own or your baby’s health during physical activity. Always be as open and honest as you can with your maternity care provider – communication is key and no question is off limits!

  1. Start slow

Once you’re cleared to exercise, start with a low-intensity form of exercise (e.g. walking, swimming, yoga or Pilates). Regular checks will help reassure you that you’re safe to build up to moderate intensity exercise through your second and third trimesters (such as brisk walking, jogging, water aerobics, light weight training and cycling). Your level of activity will depend on how active you were prior to pregnancy; so be sure to communicate this in the early conversations you have with your midwife as every woman is different.

  1. Know which muscles to strengthen

Integrate muscle strengthening exercises like pelvic floor and abdominal exercises into your workout. Pelvic floor muscles can become weakened during pregnancy so it’s important to chat to a health professional about appropriate exercises to help condition and strengthen muscles and ligaments from the start of your pregnancy. Core stability exercises are often recommended to help strengthen the muscles of the abdomen for spine support.

  1. Let your body guide you

It’s really important to listen to your body while working out. If you don’t feel like exercising on a particular day, don’t push yourself. Always drink lots of fluids, take plenty of breaks and make sure you’re giving yourself the recommended intake of nutrients to replenish and feed your body. During the first trimester, your energy intake should stay around the same as pre-pregnancy. During the second and third trimesters your energy needs will increase, particularly if you’re exercising regularly.

  1. Take the options

There’s been a proliferation in the number of gyms across Australia who provide some great group fitness classes. Often these classes are run by an instructor who will cater to pregnant women and offer purpose designed classes. Make yourself known to your instructor at the start of the class. This will help to make sure you get the most out of your yoga, Pilates or strength training class while staying safe.

Written by Australian midwife, child health nurse and Philips AVENT ambassador, Jane Barry.

If you are not sure what is right for your health during the course of your pregnancy, book an appointment with your GP who will be able to advise a correct treatment plan.

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