Pregnancy and birth are hard on the body, and we mean really hard.
It’s like running a marathon while wearing a weighted fat suit, and although the rewards are certainly worth it, the toll it takes on your body can be tough.
One of the reasons that pregnancy can be so tough on woman is that many mums-to-be find themselves putting on a lot of weight while they’re pregnant. There are a few culprits for this. The first is the idea that you need to be ‘eating for two,’ which along with pregnancy cravings can turn even the fittest woman towards unhealthy habits. Another is that it’s not safe or recommended for pregnant women to exercise, and many women worry that they might put their baby at risk by doing so.
Well, it turns out that both of those are misconceptions. During pregnancy, you do need to up your intake, but not as much as eating for two. The increase is very small at first, increasing over your trimesters. And exercising? Well if you do it right, it’s absolutely ok, and even a good idea. If you think of your labour like a marathon, it makes sense to maintain a level of fitness so you can get through it.
We have listed some of the best exercises for mums during pregnancy and after birth, that all expectant mums can definitely handle!
Walking is considered by doctors to be the best exercise for women throughout their pregnancy. It’s easy on the body for the most part, but constitutes a regular activity that isn’t that hard to add into your routine or continue throughout pregnancy. Walking provides a light cardiovascular workout, without impacting too much on knees and ankles. Also, after your baby is born, it’s simple to put them in a pram and continue your walking routine with them as well.
Yoga and pilates, particularly classes that are focused on pregnant women, are one of the best exercises for mums during pregnancy and after birth. They are also a great way to both stay fit and meet other mums with similar motivations. Both exercises work to strengthen the muscle system, stimulate circulation and help with relaxation (useful during labour!). Improving your flexibility and your posture is only going to have a positive effect on the body. When your baby arrives, you might find it difficult to continue the practice in classes, but you’ll still be able to keep it up in your own home.
3. Weight Training
Many mums worry about the potential negatives of weight training during pregnancy, especially if they’ve never tried it before. It’s probably the rarest exercise that you can throw yourself into if you’re pregnant, but if you’ve weight trained before, you’re likely to be ok. Just make sure you’re careful. Use light weights and watch your body temperature as overheating can be problematic for you and your baby. Then, when the baby is born, your work might be cut out for you. Just think how often you’ll be picking up and putting down your baby throughout the day!
Like yoga and pilates, an aerobics class is a great place to get both regular exercise and meet other mums-to-be. Depending on where you live, there may be a number of pregnancy specific aerobics classes. Aerobics strengthens your heart as well as tones your body. If you can’t attend a class for pregnant mums, make sure you keep your exercises low impact, protecting your joints, and be cautious of overheating. Once the baby is born, there isn’t much of a chance to continue this exercise, unless you happen to take them at a gym that has creche facilities.
For pregnant mums, swimming is the ultimate exercise. In the water, you are weightless, which is a welcome reprieve from the hours you spend hauling around your offspring. Swimming can be done all throughout pregnancy, and it works to exercise your entire body as well as working your lungs and heart. Along with this, it’s almost impossible to overheat while swimming (as long as you aren’t in the sun the entire time), which means it’s safe and comfortable. When your baby is born, you can stay in the pool and do other exercises like walking up and down holding your baby, or use a floatation device when they’re old enough.
Boost up your bootilicious pelvic muscle!
Whatever exercise you choose to do, make sure that during your pregnancy, you spend some time focusing on exercising your pelvic floor. There are a number of exercises that you can do in order to strengthen your pelvic floor, and almost all of them can be done during the day without changing into exercise clothes or even going somewhere private. By improving tone on your pelvic floor, you’ll not only find the process of carrying and birthing the baby easier, but your recovery will be improved as well. A strong pelvic muscle can also lower your risk of urinal inconsistence and can increase sexual orgasm after birth (whew!). So, it means more babies to conceive!
Please check with your doctor/obstetrician/midwife before embarking on any exercise during pregnancy.