Having children doesn’t mean that you have to stop exercising. In fact, staying active throughout your pregnancy is actually beneficial to both you and your unborn baby and you’ll find that those benefits continue long after birth.
Many people abandon their exercise routine when they discover that they are pregnant, as some worry that exercise may harm the baby. But staying clear of any physical activity throughout your pregnancy may do you more harm than good.
Pregnancy puts an immense amount of strain on your body. Not only do you have to make sure you are providing a safe and comfortable environment for your unborn child, you also need to be in a good enough physical state to cope with labour and giving birth. Maintaining a good exercise routine can also help to improve posture and reduce some of the discomforts that pregnancy brings, such as back pain and fatigue.
As this Sunday is Mother's Day, we are celebrating soon-to-be mothers. In this feature we will discuss DW’s top tips for staying active and healthy during your pregnancy and we will hear from some mummy bloggers to discover their tips for staying active once the baby has arrived.
Fitness is just as important as nutrition
We all know how important it is to eat healthily during pregnancy, but it’s not enough to simply eat five portions of fruit and veg a day (or seven, if new studies are to be believed). Remember that exercise should be considered just as important as your diet is.
The NHS advises that women who are active during early pregnancy are less likely to experience problems in later pregnancy and labour, so it really shouldn’t be ignored.
Substitute your routine
While the NHS advises that you can continue with your usual exercise routine for as long as you feel comfortable, you should do so within moderation.
If your normal regime consists of a HIIT (high intensity interval training) workout, then substitute it for a gentle jog or a swim throughout your pregnancy. As a general rule, you should be able to hold a conversation as you exercise. If you become too breathless as you talk, slow the pace down as you are exerting yourself too much.
Don’t exhaust yourself
Exercise is highly recommended during pregnancy, but if you weren’t active before you fell pregnant, don’t suddenly begin a rigorous exercise regime.
Remember that exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous to be beneficial; going for a gentle swim a few times a week will still do you both a lot of good. Check out the fantastic swimming facilities we have here at Fitness First Clubs.
Avoid lying on your back
You should avoid lying flat on your back after the first trimester of pregnancy, as the position can put too much pressure on a large vein called the vena cava, which can reduce blood flow to your heart and brain and may cause you to feel dizzy and nauseous. So aim for exercises that work your muscles in other ways, for example exercises you can do on your feet.
Wear loose clothes
You don’t want to feel trapped or constricted while you exercise, as it will make you feel uncomfortable and could raise your body temperature to a dangerously high level. Ditch the tight lycra and opt for a loose and natural material, such as light cotton, to feel more comfortable and free.
Staying Active: Top Tips From Mummy Bloggers
In our previous article we discussed ways that you can become more active as a family while you are looking after your children. As Mother’s Day is approaching we thought it would be a great opportunity to explore this a little further and get some real tips from the people who have first hand experience with balancing babies and fitness (not at the same time though, we hope!) - the mummy bloggers.
Erica - 92three30
“When my son was small I used to look for activities I could do with him. For 4 years I did Buggyfit with him, which was great exercise especially as he got bigger and heavier. I was very lucky though that he would still put up with being pushed around in the pushchair that long. Pushing a pushchair around is great exercise and if you walk as much as possible, it will all help.
“The alternative is to do something at home, maybe using an exercise DVD or the Wii Fit. This is a great way to fit exercise into nap time or similar. Fitting in an organised class in the evening or the weekend might be possible, if there is someone around to take on the childcare duties. I found exercise easier to fit in when my son started school. I've found a couple of yoga classes that run during the school day and I've found them so beneficial.”
Mirka – Fitness 4 Mamas
“Having family around means it's not always easy to keep to your fitness routines, but it's not impossible. One option is buggy-running. That way you still can go for your run, plus your little one can get some fresh air or maybe have a nap? I strongly advise to get a proper buggy for running, it makes so much difference.
“I also love swimming and attend spinning classes, which are always part of my essential training when preparing for a marathon. Find a local leisure centre with a creche, and the problem is solved. They are not expensive and usually can keep your little ones for up to two hours.
“Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday I put my running outfit on when doing the school run and go buggy-running straight after dropping my older one at school.”
Laura - Yummy Mummy Flabby Tummy
“My advice would be to try and get the whole family involved in keeping fit as that should make it easier and it means you are spending time together. You could go for a walk, ride bikes or take up swimming. I personally tend to get up a half hour earlier than I need to and do a 20 minute DVD workout in the morning.
“I find keeping fit (or I should say getting fit), tough as a mum. Partly because I'm so busy juggling plenty of different roles - mum, wife, friend, business owner - but also because when the opportunity to workout does arise, I'm simply too shattered to bother! The sofa looks far more attractive than spandex at the end of a long day.
“However, I'm generally a healthy person and a big believer that your health is your wealth so I push myself to fit fitness into my daily routine in the following ways:
1. Put lots of effort into playing with your kids. Not only will they love our enthusiasm but being active with them is keeping you all fit!
2. Get outside. Walk the dog, take baby out in the pram, take the longer route to the shops. Whatever it is, walking about in the fresh air makes you feel good, keeps you from going stir crazy indoors and is great exercise.
3. Just do 10 minutes. If you can't or don't want to work out, just exercising for 10 minutes a day will keep you fit and tone you up. I tend to do my mini session once I've put the little one to bed and run a bath first so I know that is waiting for me at the end as a 'reward'.
So there you have it, just 10 minutes of exercise a day can do you the world of good. We understand that exercising when you are pregnant or have young children can be challenging, but hopefully we have given you some inspiration to fit exercise in with your new routine.