Exercise During Pregnancy - An Expert's Opinion
Staying fit and eating right while you are trying to conceive and during your pregnancy is especially important.
You’ve got quite a journey ahead of you and it’ll be a much smoother one if you are feeling your best.
Exercise doesn’t have to be, and shouldn’t be, excessive while pregnant. Keeping up a gentle to moderate workout routine, depending on your level of fitness before you became pregnant, is great for you and the baby.
Pregnant.sg fitness expert, Your Fitness Singapore founder and personal trainer, Deepa Primalani, explains more:
Why should pregnant women exercise?
“Pregnancy, despite all its joy, can be a stressful time for a woman. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins, which reduce your perception of pain and help you to have a more positive outlook on life.
Facts and opinions on how exercise affects pregnancy and pregnant women have greatly changed over the years.
The majority of doctors today recommend exercise during pregnancy. It helps with general physical fitness and a much more comfortable pregnancy, and possibly a shorter and less painful delivery.”
Tip - Exercise also helps relieve the mental and emotional stress a woman goes through during pregnancy.
“There are many benefits of pregnancy exercise, both physical and psychological. Exercise has been proven to help many with the common discomforts of pregnancy such as nausea and vomiting, tiredness and fatigue, tender breasts, groin spasms or round ligament pain, constipation, gas and haemorrhoids, backaches, sciatic nerves, headaches, hypertension or anxiety, edema, dizziness, abdominal and leg cramps, varicose veins and insomnia.
Exercise also helps with confidence and self-esteem. Many of us women develop negative perceptions of our bodies as we experience changes in size and shape. Pregnant women who exercise tend to develop a more positive attitude when it comes to their body, and life in general.”
How do I get started with exercise, now that I’m pregnant?
“It is necessary to get clearance from your gynaecologist before you undertake any form of exercise while you are pregnant. Women who are new to exercise are recommended to start only in the second trimester.
Once cleared, you should start with simple exercises. I would recommend a mixture of cardiovascular exercises such as walking, aerobics, static biking and swimming.
Also some form of strength conditioning exercises such as light weights, and also body weight exercises.
Pre-natal yoga and Pilates classes will help with stretches and improving flexibility that aid in the delivery of your baby.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution. You may want to continue exercising in ways you feel comfortable. Runners might want to continue running, dancers might want to continue dancing.
It is however most important to use a lot of common sense and to listen to your body. You will not be able to do as much as you used to, so do not try to.
There are also many trainers such as myself who are certified to train pregnant and post-natal clients. This is one resource you could use to make sure that you are doing it right, and to customize a regime that best suits your present condition, goals and lifestyle.
A mixture of cardiovascular, strength training and flexibility exercises should be incorporated into all your workout plans and you should be careful with the intensity and duration as you go along.”
Tip – “I recommend a 30 to 45 minute workout in total combining a mixture of cardiovascular, strength training and flexibility exercises.”
“You will also be advised to warm up and cool down for longer periods and to adjust your resistance and intensity as you move along from one trimester to the next.
This will give you a good exercise program to follow throughout the pregnancy.”
Which exercises should I avoid during pregnancy?
“Exercising while pregnant is important but you must know your limits and understand your body. It is always recommended to check with your gynaecologist or with a certified pre/post natal personal trainer before you begin.
According to guidelines set out by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, most pregnant women can participate in almost all exercises during pregnancy but certain exercises should only be practiced in certain trimesters.
I would firstly eliminate contact sports completely. You need to minimize any risk of impact or injury. Secondly, exercises in prone positions should be avoided.
These are exercises which require you to lie on your tummy, putting all your weight on it. This prevents foetus movement and causes the baby to be uncomfortable.
I would limit exercises in supine position. These are exercises which require you to lie flat on your back. Lying in this position tends to cause breathlessness as you get bigger. Supine position exercises are generally permitted in the first trimester.
When it comes to strength training and flexibility, how much you do depends on what you were used to before you became pregnant. You should also avoid prone and supine positions with these exercises.”
We hope this information will help you decide on a great workout routine when you are pregnant!