Our guest writer and all round superstar, Sarah Crosby, Women’s Health Physiotherapist based in London (www.cppg.co.uk), discusses the benefits of exercising in pregnancy but also the importance of listening to your body to ensure that you and baby stay happy and healthy!
A recent publication from the IOC (International Olympic Committee) stated that it is safe to exercise whilst pregnant. There are very few studies into exercising during pregnancy. However, the research that has been carried out, suggests for athletes and women who exercise a lot and continue to exercise in pregnancy, it does not affect them negatively. It has been found that women exercising during pregnancy have stronger pelvic floor muscles and better muscular endurance.
There are a wealth of additional benefits of exercising during pregnancy:
· Reduced risk of developing gestational diabetes
· Reduced risk of developing pre-eclampsia,
· Reduced likelihood of having a high weight baby
· Improved mental well-being
· Eases constipating
· Improved circulation
· Helps to maintain a healthy weight
· Improves posture and balance
· Prepares you for labour
There is not a great deal of information available to expectant mothers about what level of exercise is deemed appropriate or sensible. It is a complex subject matter and how much you can exercise will vary greatly from one women to another.
Here are some key tips:
1) Do not take up running in pregnancy if you have not run before. Your body will not be conditioned to running and therefore it could be very challenging for your body to cope with the added demands of running on your pregnant body.
2) Moderate exercise has been shown to increase circulation to you and your placenta. Moderate exercise means you should be able to talk whilst exercising which would be around 140 BPM on a heartrate monitor on average. (This does vary by person depending on many factors. Consult your Midwife if you are unsure.)
3) Intense levels of exercise should be avoided, some research has shown that exercising at 90% of your oxygen consumption can reduce the blood flow to the foetus.
4) Avoid getting too hot when exercising. During pregnancy you cannot regulate your body temperature as well therefore try to exercise on cooler days, in air-conditioned environments and wear breathable, light clothes.
5) Ensure you rehydrate yourself sufficiently during and/or after exercise.
Running with a buggy whilst pregnant is ok for you to continue with if you have been buggy running prior to getting pregnant. Buggy running is more demanding on your body therefore stick to the same rules as above. As your bump grows during pregnancy you may find that buggy running becomes more awkward and some women may find it is uncomfortable on their back. If this happens to you, this might be the time to stop running with the buggy.
It is likely the intensity and frequency of your running will reduce as your pregnancy progresses due to your changing body and how it feels to run.
Ultimately, the amount you can exercise in pregnancy is likely to come down to your pre-pregnancy exercise levels and how you are feeling in your pregnancy.
If you have any complications during pregnancy such as low lying placenta, vaginal bleeding, abdominal pain, shortness of breath, reduced foetal movements, palpitations or fainting then you should stop exercising and consult your GP and or midwife.
Pregnant runners who suffer from nausea should be cautious not to exercise if they have a low fuel intake. Try to eat small regular meals to supply yourself with enough energy to exercise and to nourish yourself and baby.
Remember, the most important thing is to listen to your body. If something, doesn’t feel right then STOP!
Happy running and enjoy your pregnancy! Sarah X