Monday, 22 August 2016

Exercise With Confidence During Pregnancy

Exercise during pregnancy Wolverhampton

I don’t have children, but one day I certainly hope to. When that day comes I want to be confident that myself and my partner have done absolutely everything we reasonably can to ensure that we’re bringing a healthy baby into the world, whilst not compromising the health of Mom.

Now, this is a very tall order as we need to consider that every action we take, even pre-conception, can have an effect on the future health of our children. It’s not just a matter of not gorging ourselves on chocolate and cutting back on alcohol as perhaps it was once thought. And the whole, ‘I smoked all the way through my 3 pregnancies and my kids are just fine’ won’t wash anymore.

Covering every aspect of optimising pregnancy from a health and wellbeing point of view could very well fill a dozen 900 page books so I won’t even attempt to pretend to be comprehensive in this short blog post. But I do have women come to me shortly before and during pregnancy looking for help with their exercise, knowing that maintaining a strong and healthy body will make the physical experience of pregnancy a lot more bearable for them.

There are a number of considerations that need to be made at various stages throughout pregnancy that I’ll cover today. I’ll be focussing more on exercise rather than nutrition and lifestyle here.

WHAT TO EXPECT IN TRIEMSTER 1

  STAGE
  TRIMESTER 1

CONSIDERATIONS
Vascular Underfill - Blood vessels expand quicker than increase in blood volume causing low blood pressure, nausea, fatigue, pallor

Increased Heart Rate - Up to 10-15bpm in response to low blood pressure

Increased Insulin Resistance - Leads to maternal fat storage for growing foetus and in 1 in 300 cases, gestational diabetes

Relaxin Secretion - A hormone called relaxin is released which mildly affects the flexibility of connective tissue


TRAINING
Never exercise to exhaustion

Avoid jumping and contact activities

Keep cool and do not overheat whilst exercising

Start abdominal strengthening

Begin pelvic floor exercises

Avoid overhead lifting or exercises that out strain on the lower back

Avoid side bending

Ensure rising from the floor is done slowly due to potential dizziness

Focus on lengthening muscles that will become tight later in pregnancy - hip flexors, lats, lower back, upper traps

Use moderate weights


WHAT TO EXPECT IN TRIEMSTER 2

  STAGE
  TRMESTER 2

CONSIDERATIONS
Correction in Vascular Underfill -  Blood volume increases and blood pressure & heart rate normalises

Increased Energy - Due to normalisation of circulatory system

Improvements in Body Temperature Regulation - Body starts to sweat sooner to help cool you down

Surge in Relaxin Output - Joints become much more mobile

Pelvic and Lower Back Changes - Anterior pelvic tilt (pelvis tilts forward) and lumbar lordosis (arch in lower back) as baby grows

Upper Back Changes - Increased thoracic kyphosis (rounding of the upper back) to compensate for lower back changes and increased breast size and weight

Increasing Pressure on Pelvic Floor - The weight of the baby now presses down on the pelvic floor muscles


TRAINING
Never exercise to exhaustion

Avoid jumping and contact activities

Consume 150kcal extra each day to allow for more carbohydrate availability for the baby

Add pelvic floor activation during other movements

Don't perform exercise on the back

Prolong warm up

Avoid overhead lifting or exercises that out strain on the lower back

Avoid side bending

Ensure rising from the floor is done slowly due to potential dizziness

Only stretch from a stable base of support to avoid balance problems

Use moderate weights

Cardio should switch to low impact work only


WHAT TO EXPECT IN TRIEMSTER 3

  STAGE
  TRIMESTER 3

CONSIDERATIONS
Blood Volume Increases Further - Blood pressure likely to rise further

Heart Rate Drops - Due to increased blood pressure

Rapid Weight Gain - As the baby grows

Increased Fatigue and Shortness of Breath - On account of the energy the foetus is taking up

Exaggeration of Postural Changes - Due to the size of the baby

Relaxin Output & Insulin Resistance Continue - Relaxin is helping the joints and connective tissue of the pelvis prepare for delivery

Increased Pressure on Pelvic Floor Muscles - Due to the size of the baby

Diastasis Recti - Splitting of the connective tissue between the abdominal muscles


TRAINING
Never exercise to exhaustion

Avoid jumping and contact activities

Consume 300kcal extra each day to allow for more carbohydrate availability for the baby

Don't perform exercise on the back

Avoid overhead lifting or exercises that out strain on the lower back

Avoid side bending

Ensure rising from the floor is done slowly due to potential dizziness

Avoid isometric exercises and breath holding

Focus on maintenance flexibility and relaxation

Only stretch from a stable base of support to avoid balance problems

Use light weights

I hope that clears up a few things. Of course, the focus around exercise in this pre-natal stage is all around that of maintenance. Pregnant women should never really be trying to push themselves too hard. The real groundwork should be done in the months and years before conception where fitness is maximised. Pregnancy isn't the time for breaking PBs in the gym!

If you feel you'd benefit from any one-2-one help through your pregnancy please don't hesitate to get in touch - I'd be delighted to help!

Contact details can be found in the WORK WITH ME section.



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