Staying active while being pregnant has a multitude of benefits such as increasing your levels of energy, strengthening muscles, improving troubled sleep and even soothing aches and pains. Not only does regular exercise help prepare your body for pregnancy, it’ll make it easier for mummies to get back in shape after your baby is born. Here are some effective yet easy prenatal home exercises to fit into your schedule.
Before hitting the gym or starting any form of exercise, do check with your doctor to ensure it is safe to do so. While exercise is safe even during early pregnancy, recommended exercises and activities may differ based on pregnancy and fitness levels.
Most mummies wouldn’t notice much bodily changes during the first trimester, but there will be new physical limitations such as low energy levels and frequent nausea. During this time, focus on building up your core and strengthening your muscles to better equip your body to handle the physical changes to come; having stronger legs and a stronger back will help you support the extra weight as you grow bigger.
Keeping up the level of activity that your body is conditioned to, at least in the early stages, is completely fine, save for contact sports and super high-impact exercises. You would have to tweak pre-pregnancy work outs or opt for less strenuous routines as the pregnancy goes on.
While working out, it is always important to stay hydrated (drink one glass of water every half an hour of exercise!) and avoid overheating as increase of your baby’s body temperature can be dangerous to a developing fetus; stay away from hot yoga, steam rooms and saunas. While it’s advised to target 30 minutes of exercise every day, listen to what your body is telling you and exercise with caution.
For those who have kept up an active profile throughout the first trimester, it is time to review and adjust the exercises you’ve been enjoying. In the second phase, moderation is key. As your pregnancy progresses, you’ll want to slow down your routine and steer clear of exercises with a fall risk, such as cycling, gymnastics or any activities that may throw you off balance and cause you to fall down.
Also, avoid exercises that require you to lie on your back as it may cause lightheadedness or dizziness. This is due to the uterus getting larger – this position will have it compressing abdomen vessels and in turn reduce blood flow to the heart and brain, causing lightheadedness or dizziness. Also, avoid workouts that will have you twisting your abdomen, or putting unnecessary strain on your core muscles. The former increases the risk of diastasis recti, a common occurrence in pregnant women where the abdominal wall muscles are separated. Try starting exercises that can help to stretch and strengthen your body in preparation for the eventual delivery – don’t push yourself too hard!
As your delivery date approaches and your tummy grows bigger, it’s important to keep moving even though you may prefer to laze around. There are plenty of benefits to doing so, for even just 20 minutes of exercise daily can help to alleviate the aches, pains and other symptoms of pregnancy. But don’t worry about having to work out a sweat because third trimester exercises should be kept to a low to moderate intensity. Again, the focus of these low-impact exercises would be to target major muscle groups in order to prepare your body for the birthing process. There are plenty of prenatal exercise classes you can sign up for, with special and modified poses or training routines for mummies-to-be – having a professional guide you through the exercises especially during the last few weeks of pregnancy will ensure the safety of both baby and mum.
Here are some exercises mummies can do:
For mummies who are used to running even before pregnancy, make sure there are no fall risks on your route. Stick to flat ground or even better, on a treadmill with safety bars, and pace yourself. It’s completely alright to stop when you feel tired. Most women switch to brisk walking or jogging by their second trimester.
A go-to exercise for expectant mums, pilates is relatively safe and provides a wealth of benefits through its use of controlled movements and positions, such as strengthening deep abdominal muscles, toning the pelvic floor, restoring flexibility and alleviating pregnancy aches and pains.
For mums who are comfortable in the water, swimming is a low-impact cardiovascular exercise that helps build strength with less risk. Being in the water is also therapeutic to aching bodies as it takes pressure and weight off tired limbs, and reduces swelling. Whether it’s doing gentle laps down the pool or doing light aerobic exercises in the water, you’ll be able to carry on the exercises even during your third trimester.
Keep to low intensity strength training twice per week. Whether you’re hitting the gym or lifting weights at home, avoid manoeuvring weights over your belly or lying on your back. During your third trimester, don’t lift heavy weights. Opt for body weight workouts such as squats, modified planks and wall push-ups instead. And you can work on your arm strength (all the better to carry baby around with!) by using light weights. It’s best to work with a trainer during your prenatal routine.
While the exercises that were recommended are safe for mummies-to-be, do check with your doctor before beginning any exercise routine. Scroll through the gallery below for easy exercises you can try at home!
Need an easy, every day workout? This routine by Cassey Blogilates will have you working up a mild sweat in six minutes or less!
A suitable exercise throughout your pregnancy, this 25-minute prenatal workout uses only body weight to pull off the exercises.
Not feeling up for heading outdoors? March away in the comforts of your own home.
Keeping fit and toned throughout your pregnancy can be challenging, but check out Ashley Keller’s trio of prenatal exercises that’ll keep you in tip top shape with a simple set of weights.
Train your glutes and strengthen your back muscles with this seven-minute lower body workout routine.