This post is written by Libby Nuttall from Miracle Months
When I was pregnant with my first son. Whoah! Morning sickness hit me like a tonne of bricks. Exercise quickly fell by the wayside. I then won a scholarship to travel around the UK for a month. Not a bit of exercise to be seen there either.
By the time I got home and got my act together, it had been almost five months without proper exercise. I had constant pain in the middle of my back and my hips ached. I didn’t sleep well at all for the rest of the pregnancy. I felt the need for weekly massage to loosen everything up.
Fast forward two years to my second pregnancy. This time around I wouldn’t make the same mistakes. I worked out most days, even if it was a walk or teaching a class in my personal training business.
My pregnancy went down a very different road. I had no hip pain, no back pain. I slept well and had more energy. Because I was taking high intensity classes during my first trimester, I was forced to continue through the morning sickness. It actually gave me more energy to get through the rest of the day. Alas, the nausea remained.
There is no more important time in your life to be active than pregnancy.
Research shows women who exercise regularly throughout their pregnancy, say, from 20-60 minutes, three times per week, experience fewer aches and pains and improved sleep. They also gained less weight during pregnancy and experienced improved mental health and self esteem.
In a study by the University of Adelaide, researchers reported a range of benefits for the babies of women who exercised during pregnancy, including a reduced chance of moderate to severe respiratory distress syndrome and reduced length of stay in hospital.
So what of birth and recovery? Well, women who exercise during pregnancy are less likely to require intervention during labour including caesarian, forceps or vacuum. Though there doesn’t seem to be an overwhelming argument that it will make labour easier or shorter. During my second pregnancy I really focused on strengthening my glutes and core in preparation for pushing, and believe my strength and fitness did serve me well. After all, labour is a marathon, and you can’t run a marathon without training.
So what exercise should you be doing while pregnant? Well it all depends on what you were doing prior to falling pregnant.
In years gone by we were given strict guidelines for exercise during pregnancy including working out with a heart rate below 140bpm, avoiding weights and running and doing the “talk test”.
What we now know is that the exercises a woman was doing prior to falling pregnant are usually safe to continue. As the pregnancy progresses women should listen to their bodies and what feels comfortable, without ego or preconceived ideas of how hard they should be going.
I would advise women avoid any abdominal work such as crunches and double leg lefts, as these will increase the risk of Diastsis Recti (abdominal separation), and if you are experiencing any hip or pelvic pain then avoid single leg work such as lunges.
And lastly please, ladies, look after your pelvic floor. Sure you can run and jump and skip as much as you like during pregnancy. But there are plenty of exercises you can do without putting such enormous pressure on your pelvic floor and risk years of incontinence.
So what are you waiting for, get active today!
Libby would love to offer one lucky reader a Miracle Months program valued at $69.95. All you have to do to enter is tell us your favourite type of exercise, in the comments below. Competition closes Friday 10th of June, 5pm AEST
Miracle Months is the ultimate online pre and post natal wellness program. Because we know each stage of pregnancy brings its own challenges and changes, the video-based programs are trimester specific.
You will receive a range of workouts, yoga sequences and guided meditations to utilise to maintain mental and physical health, as well as interviews and demonstrations with pregnancy and post natal experts such as physiotherapists and naturopaths.
Miracle Months is a safe and effective way to stay fit, happy and healthy this pregnancy, and regain core and pelvic floor strength after childbirth. There is no more important time in your life to focus on your health.