Pregnancy and Exercise: Work Smart, Not Hard!
One of the most asked questions I get is "What exercises are safe to do during pregnancy?"
We know that there are lots of benefits to exercising during pregnancy, but changing the focus and types of workouts one does to accommodate a growing belly and shifting centre of gravity is a great idea. The focus during pregnancy should be on maintaining or building strength for labour and birth and preparing for the high demands of a newborn. Exercises should feel good on your body and help you stay physically well throughout your pregnancy.
A few Common Issues in Pregnancy:
Here's a little context and information about why we have guidelines for exercise during pregnancy. There are some issues that are very common during pregnancy that exercising without awareness can cause or exacerbate. Ideally, we don't want to contribute to or increase these issues.
Diastasis Recti Abdominus (DRA):
This is the stretching of the connective tissue (linea alba) between the two sides of the abdominals causing a separation to the right and left of centre on the belly. While 100% of pregnant bodies will experience some degree of DRA by the end of pregnancy, our goal is not to increase the degree of DRA with unsafe movement patterns. Traditional abdominal work, excessive extension (backbends), planks and exercising on All 4's can contribute to DRA due to the amount of force and stretch that is put on the linea alba.
Pelvic Floor Dysfunction:
The muscles of your Pelvic Floor are part of your Inner Core. With the added weight of a growing baby belly, there is extra pressure put on these muscles and they can become too tight trying to support or too loose, unable to keep up, causing them to be dysfunctional. Symptoms of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction include leaking urine (even just a little!), feeling like you have the urge to urinate more than usual, constipation, bowel incontinence (including gas), low back, hip or pelvic pain.
Pubis Syphasis Dysfunction (PSD):
This is when the ligament at the pubic bone area becomes uncomfortable or painful due to pulling, twisting or sheering of the two sides. Exercises that require you to be on one leg or squeezing your inner thighs together can contribute to various forms of PSD. If it causes pain, stop! Consider doing inner thigh work with both legs working together.
Breathlessness, Dizziness, Balance, Elevated Heart Rate, Over stretching & Overheating: With a growing belly and shifting centre of gravity it is common to lose one's balance, even with simple activities. To accommodate the growing baby the body uses hormones to help soften and relax the ligaments around joints making it easy to over stretch and cause injury. Additionally, a pregnant body has approximately 30-50% more blood volume by the third trimester causing the heart and the respiratory system to work harder, even at rest. Work Smart, not Hard!! Easy does it, but get it done!
With these common issues in mind, here are some very general guidelines that you can follow if you are exercising without the knowledge and mindful eye of a qualified instructor.
Work Smart, Not Hard!
Check out this quick tutorial of "Core Breathing" to effectively activate your inner core.
Looking for safe and challenging work outs? Check out my Prenatal Classes at Retrofit Pilates on Saturdays at 12:30pm, book in for some one-on-one sessions and stay tuned for videos to do at home or on the go! Move Well, Feel Well!
Ruth has enjoyed watching many bodies change, stay functional and become powerful humans. Education is at the centre of her approach, believing that knowledge is power and that informing our minds and bodies will help build an extraordinary life experience. Creative by nature and armed with an excellent knowledge of functional anatomy and physiology of pregnancy & birth, Ruth loves working with all sorts of bellies, babies and bodies!