It’s OK; we know what you’re thinking – “Ugh, exercise.” While we’d love to say that our fitness section amounts to breaking chunks off a king size bar of chocolate that’s been left in the fridge, we can’t.
While fitness isn’t the first thought on your mind when pregnant, it does help to keep fit where possible. After all you’ve got a family to think about – when Baby Brain strikes and you start leaving the hand break off the car, you need to be fit enough to chase after it.
To help bust some of the Myths of exercising while pregnant, we chatted to pre and post-natal exercise specialist, Louise Randall of Eat Move Bloom. She gave us some great advice and, despite our best efforts, couldn’t be persuaded to recommend cake-eating as an essential part of the fitness regime.
PREGNANCY EXERCISE MYTHS – BUSTED!
The Myth - You shouldn’t exercise when pregnant.
The Reality – If you’ve never exercised before, then now is certainly not the time to sign up for a marathon. However, keeping active during your pregnancy has a number of benefits: it will help improve your mood and self-esteem, decrease stress levels, anxiety and fatigue, aid post-natal recovery and help keep pregnancy niggles such as backache, pelvic girdle pain, water retention and constipation at bay.
Moderate aerobic activity during pregnancy will also help your body bounce back sooner after the birth. Guidelines suggest that you should aim to undertake 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity three times per week. Walking is low impact, but works all your major muscles groups. Even better, it’s free and you can do it anywhere. Swimming, aquanatal classes and low intensity aerobics are also good.
Core strengthening is equally important in order to help ease backaches and improve your posture (something you’ll be glad of as your baby grows), and it will help prepare your body for labour. Pilates and yoga are excellent for this, but do ensure you look for a class specifically tailored for pregnant women, or else ask your instructor to modify the poses, and check with your doctor if you’re starting something new.
The Myth - You shouldn’t do abdominal exercises when pregnant.
The Reality - Yes and no. Sit ups or crunches are a definite no-no. Your abdominal muscles will lengthen to accommodate your condition. Pelvic floor exercises will also help to reduce stress-related incontinence after pregnancy.
The Myth - Exercising will deprive your baby of oxygen.
The Reality - Research has shown that regular exercise helps to build a larger, more efficient placenta and therefore actually allows more oxygen and nutrients to reach your baby. However, exercise intensity during your pregnancy should be fairly low, so you shouldn’t be exerting yourself to the point that you are unable to talk, sing or whistle while you work!
The Myth - Being pregnant means eating for two.
The Reality - The amount of calories required during your pregnancy remains exactly the same until the third trimester, where you need an additional 200-300 calories a day—roughly the equivalent of four oatcakes and a banana. Weight gain is obviously part and parcel of having a baby, but it is not an excuse to overeat. What you consume now directly affects that little person growing inside you, so it is even more important than ever that you maintain a healthy, varied diet.
Hopefully Louise has shed some light on your exercising concerns, so now there’s no excuse not to get out there and get fit. We’re so, so sorry.