Pre-Natal Exercise Q & A

Exercising while pregnant can be daunting, especially if it’s been a little while since you were in a gym or a class. The good news is, properly perscribed exercise can be safe during pregnancy and can benefit both you and baby throughout your pregnancy, birth and beyond. Before starting any new pre-natal exercise program, speak to your GP or consultant to make sure that it’s safe for you, and ensure you work with a trainer or instructor that has a pre-natal qualification. Here are answers to some common questions about pre-natal exercise.

Can I start exercising when I’m pregnant, even if I’ve never exercised before?
Yes. Once your GP has given you clearance, you can begin exercising. It’s a myth that if you didn’t exercise before pregnancy, you can’t start now. The key message is to work within your current fitness level, even if that’s a daily walk or some light strength training, pregnancy is not the time to learn to start lifting heavy weights or do your first 5k! Work with a qualified trainer, listen to your body and don’t overexert yourself and you can enjoy exercise just as much as someone with more experience. Exercise can also be a great way to de-stress and relax, which has benefits for mummy and baby.

What type of exercise is safe during pregnancy?
I recommend Pilates, Yoga, walking, swimming, and light weight training.

Is there any type of exercise I should avoid?

  • High impact, high intensity training, or training that puts you at risk of a fall
  • After 3-4 months, avoid training on your tummy, or training lying on your back for more than 2-3 minutes
  • Because the hormones in your body make you prone to over-stretching, be careful and don’t stretch as far as you usually would
  • Be careful in the warmer weather, drink plenty of water and don’t let yourself overheat and avoid exercising in hot or humid conditions
  • When exercising, make sure you breathe, don’t hold your breath
  • Avoid stretching the abductors (inner thighs), and be mindful of any hip or pelvic movements
  • Don’t lift heavy weights
  • Avoid any trunk rotation exercises and do not do sit-ups or crunches as this can cause (or worsen) diastasis recti (separation of the abdominal wall).

What are the benefits of pre-natal Pilates?
Pilates has so many benefits for pre-natal women – here are a few of the key ones:

  • Improving your posture – during pregnancy, as your centre of gravity changes, your lower back tends to curve or your shoulders may slump forward. By stretching and strengthening your postural muscles, your posture will improve which leaves you less prone to injury and back pain.
  • Relieve back pain – Due to limited movement and increased strain from your growing uterus, back pain can be common. During a Pilates class we very gently work the core muscles, strengthening the muscles which support your back. We also do several stretches designed to loosen any tightness or stiffness.
  • Pelvic Floor – We all know how important the pelvic floor muscles are. They support your growing baby and are responsible for birthing that baby when the time comes. Pilates focusses on the entire core, including the pelvic floor, throughout the class.
  • Build post-natal strength – A good Pilates class should also focus on strengthening the muscles that you’ll need after the birth of baby, such as your glutes and shoulders for safely bending and lifting baby
  • Relaxation – In Pilates we practise focused breathing. Movement is slow and controlled – this class will provide you with a challenge without any impact or feeling of intensity. In my classes I always finish with a guided meditation to help you connect with your baby and relieve any stress or tension.

If you have any specific questions, or need advice or guidance, please feel free to get in touch with me. If you’re looking for an exercise class in a supportive and comfortable environment, take a look at my class timetable and see if there’s a suitable class near you.

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