When determining your exercise goals during pregnancy, always begin by checking in with your medical professional to find out if exercising is right for you and your pregnancy! Currently the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week for non-complicated pregnancies. Exercise prescription while pregnant should follow the same guidelines for non-pregnant individuals, while modifying to reduce risks for mother and baby. If you're looking for ideas on how to get started, we have included our top three workouts for pregnant mums ahead!
Prenatal Yoga or Pilates
The first step is making sure that your instructor has a prenatal certification, as many traditional yoga and Pilates moves are contraindicated during pregnancy. A trained instructor will know exactly what moves to avoid and what to focus on!
Gestational weight gain in your chest and abdomen traditionally causes balance issues, muscles aches, and poor posture. For the millions of women who are suffering from pregnancy-related anxiety and insomnia, deep breathing and meditations within a yoga practice will also be beneficial for calming the mind and improving sleep patterns! Stretches and poses for your upper back, shoulders, hips, and lower back will help alleviate common issues and discomfort and improve your balance. Continuing to work your core and pelvic floor will help your body manage the increased weight demands, aid in delivery, and give you a leg up on rebuilding your pelvic floor postpartum.
Incontinence, lower back pain, and core weakness are impossible to avoid during pregnancy and delivery. However, continuing to work out during pregnancy with some prenatal yoga will give you the best shot at feeling like yourself in those first few months post-delivery!
Low-Impact Cardiovascular Exercise
Many physicians will recommend that women wear a heart rate monitor during pregnancy and slow down or cease activity if the monitor goes above 140 bpm. Another effective way to judge cardiovascular intensity is using the talk test. If you are unable to carry on a conversation during exercise, you may be working too hard. Restricting oxygen to yourself and baby for prolonged periods of time is not recommended, and this is an easy way to judge if you need to slow down!
During your second and third trimesters, a hormone called relaxin starts to rise, loosening ligaments in your core and pelvic floor to help aid in delivery. This means you are more susceptible to joint injury and falling and want to avoid high-impact exercise. Low-impact exercises such as walking, elliptical, swimming, and recumbent biking are favourable to sprinting, jumping, or CrossFit-type bootcamps. An added bonus of water-based activities is a reduction of swelling in your lower extremities that many pregnant women battle, especially in the third trimester!
One of the reasons resistance-band training is great for pregnancy is the ability to adjust as your size and energy levels shift, without having to constantly buy new equipment or more dumbbells! Resistance bands with and without handles can be used to do a variety of upper-body exercises like back rows, chest press, bicep curls, triceps extensions, and shoulder raises, as well as resistance walking, squats, sumo squats, and calf press for the lower body. Continuing resistance training one or two times a week throughout your pregnancy will help you maintain strength, flexibility, and energy and helps manage gestational weight gain.