Keeping fit is great for your physical and mental health.
In this week's blog, Mara Fekete, ZenBirth's resident fitness guru and hypnobirthing instructor in South West London, gives you some excellent tips on how to keep fit during pregnancy, even if you have never taken much exercise before.
Doing regular exercise can help you to deal with the extra demands on your body during pregnancy. It also promotes muscle tone and strength, as well as improving feelings of mental well-being. Keeping fit can therefore have a positive effect on how you manage both your pregnancy and your labour.
When a woman finds out she that a little one is on its way, she may find herself changing her usual routines and habits. Unfortunately, taking regular exercise is one of the thing that women often stop doing, or do less when they become pregnant. Sometimes this is due to having less energy due to pregnancy sickness or just being tired as a result of growing a little person. Because exercise has wonderful benefits it can be a mistake to give up on keeping fit altogether.
If keeping fit wasn't part of your life before pregnancy, now is not the time to suddenly storm into a gym and start training like there is no tomorrow. However, taking regular exercise within your fitness abilities is a really good idea. We all have different lifestyles, so some of us have done exercise on a a regular basis before, and some of us have not. The good news is, it does not matter what your usual habits or abilities are, because you can start at any time.
Here are a few tips and ideas for keeping fit in pregnancy:
- Check if your health care provider (GP, Midwife, Obstetrician, etc) what kind of exercise they suggest based on what they know about your health. It's important to get advice when starting a new fitness routine, especially when you are pregnant and if you have any health conditions.
- Exercise has a 'feel-good factor' thanks to the hormones produced during physical activity. These include dopamine, serotonin and endorphins. Enjoy how great exercise can make you feel mentally. A positive mind has a great effect on how you feel in your body.
- Whatever type of exercise you do, always avoid overheating. This is especially important in the first trimester, especially in Summer. The key is drinking plenty of water. Keep hydrated mamas!
- Always warm up before and stretch after your exercise routine. In pregnancy your hormone relaxin is raised in preparation for childbirth. This hormone relaxes the ligaments in the pelvic area and other parts of the body. So it's extra important in pregnancy to stretch gently. It can also help to find an fitness instructor who is specifically trained to support pregnant women.
- Making exercise a new habit can be exciting! You have a great selection of classes you can choose from: water fitness (aquanatal), pregnancy yoga and pilates, walking, swimming and more. If you are interested in weights and aerobic exercise, you can try these on a moderate level and get the support of your trained instructor to help you.
- If you are already really into fitness, and if you are having a healthy pregnancy, you can, for the most part, carry on with most of your activities as before. But please listen to your body. It will tell you if it is too much. You should consult a fitness instructor and your health care provider if you are unsure. And you should pace yourself and be sure you are not over doing it.
- For all pregnant women, definitely get information and support from a qualified pregnancy and postnatal fitness instructor. These days nearly every gym has a trainer who specialises in pre- and postnatal training. And also ensure you are attending your regular check ups with your GP or midwife, and that you are not doing anything to an extreme level.
Fitness Instructor and Hypnobirthing Practitioner