Exercise during pregnancy is something that should be done with a low-moderate level of exertion and in a controlled environment. It is important to understand the contraindications so as to maintain a sustainable exercise program, without putting mother or child at risk. The training capabilities of individuals during pregnancy will vary according to fitness levels, experience and existing medical conditions.
- Positive psychological and physical outcomes
- Strengthen and prepare the body for childbirth
- Strenghten pelvic floor and lower back
- Easier to regain fitness after childbirth
Contraindications to exercise during pregnancy (Don’t do)
- Lying on your back or front, particularly during the 2nd and 3rd Trimester
- Over-exertion and holding breath
- Unbalanced movements that could result in a fall
- High intensity training and plyometric exercises (jumping)
- Lifting heavy weights
- Some abdominal strengthening exercises
- Running long distance, or training for long periods of time (>1hr)
Some training tips
- Use lighter weights than you normally would, and remember to regulate your breathing. If you find you’re holding your breath, you may be lifting too heavy.
- Rather than lying on your back, you can perform some leg exercises lying on your side.
- Don’t work yourself to fatigue, back off if you’re feeling dizzy or nauseous.
- Train for 30 mins, up to 4 times a week, provided there are no existing complications with the pregnancy. Frequency of training also depends on the fitness base of the individual.
- Always warm up with dynamic stretching before training. Finish the session with static stretching, ensuring that you work within your range of movement.
- Don’t allow yourself to overheat during training.
Remember to listen to your body, and don’t try to undertake more than your level of fitness allows. Avoid the contraindications of exercise during pregnancy and both mother and child can reap the benefits of a healthy program.