When you are pregnant, exercise can help soothe and prevent common aches and pains and build lean muscle mass and strength for labour and postpartum. But there are certain dos and don’ts to be aware of. …beyond “Don’t wear white on top unless you want to look like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.” That is always sound advice.
The kind of Dos and Don’ts I really mean are – you guessed it! – exercise related.
I remember being in my last trimester while pregnant with baby #2 and receiving all kinds of concerned looks and amazed reactions when people found out I was still exercising. It was autumn and still fairly warm, so I got outdoors to walk with baby #1, then a toddler, at least a couple of times per week and taught two Belly Bootcamp prenatal fitness classes each week right up to 40 weeks of pregnancy. About 36 weeks I stopped teaching our outdoor stroller fitness classes at my midwife’s insistence. I might have been a bit more active than your average pregnant gal, but the point is a pregnant body is a strong body. As long as your workouts are not leaving you worse for wear and you are following sound advice (or the instruction of a qualified personal trainer or instructor), you can, and should, exercise as late into pregnancy as possible.
Here is the sound advice you need to ensure your workouts are safe when you don’t have a trainer around to help you out:
- make your instructor/coach aware that you are pregnant before starting activities
- wear supportive footwear designed for exercise
- stay well hydrated, drinking throughout the day and before, during & after exercise
- dress in layers so you may shed layers to prevent overheating
- rise or change positions slowly to avoid dizziness and discomfort
- increase your caloric intake to meet your energy needs during pregnancy, by consuming 300 extra calories/day and eating according to your hunger
- eat a small snack before or after exercise to keep blood sugar levels stable
- check your level of exertion and avoid exercise that leaves you dizzy or unable to breathe or talk
- exercise consistently, 3-5 times per week, to stay limber and fit and make workouts feel easier
- exercise in hot, humid conditions
- exercise at high elevations
- exercise immediately after eating a meal; wait 1-2 hours
- hold your breath while exercising
- perform bouncing or jerking movements
- perform quick changes of direction
- exercise when you feel any pain, extreme fatigue, swelling or other symptoms
- exercise beyond your individual comfort and tolerance level
Listen to your body and follow these guidelines for safe exercise in pregnancy, and you will feel strong, able and confident when labour arrives!