Please consult your Dr before commencing any Training Program during pregnancy. The information below is my own personal information and does not override that of any medical practitioner.
I am thrilled to be able to share my personal experience with you! As a mother of three beautiful children, I know all about the ups and downs during this special time in your life. There is no doubt that there will be some days during your pregnancy when getting out of bed can be a challenge. But I can assure you that staying fit and active can have lots of benefits during pregnancy and at the time of giving birth. Just listen to your body and don't over do it. 'Pregnancy is not a time to get fit but rather maintain your fitness'.
Benefits of exercise during pregnancy
Exercise improves muscle tone, strength and endurance. This can help you carry your weight during pregnancy, prepare you for the physical stress you will put your body through during labour and birth and help you get 'body back after baby' fast! Your body releases a hormone called relaxin during pregnancy which loosens your joints in preparation for delivery, so you need to take care with the choice of exercise and pay attention to technique. It's important to find exercises that won't injure you or harm the baby. Always consult your doctor first before commencing any training program during pregnancy.
Once pregnant I would lower the intensity of your routine, as your body will use up more oxygen. Although you'll breathe more deeply, there'll be less oxygen available to your body for aerobic exercise. As long as you can talk during your workout and do not feel out of breath, it's probably about right for you!
Weight training is thought to be safe during pregnancy as long as you are not lifting heavy. Aim to maintain muscle tone rather than building muscle bulk. As a rule, go for lighter weights and more repetitions rather than a few repetitions of heavy weights.
Towards the end of your pregnancy it's best to stop weight lifting altogether and try a different form of exercise. The type of muscle activity used in weight lifting may raise your blood pressure, because it forces your heart to pump harder to circulate blood through your system. I found that during the second trimester, morning cardio three times a week was simply enough to satisfy my daily workout routine.
No matter how fit or active you were before becoming pregnant, I believe it's best to stick to low-impact aerobics during pregnancy. High-impact exercise, which involves a lot of jumping, hopping and running, may put too much of a strain on your body.
I recommend the following types of training whilst pregnant:
Walking, Swimming, Yoga and stretching, Light weight training, Low impact aerobics and dance classes and Aqua Natal classes. I personally would not recommend running whilst pregnant. From my own personal experience having carried all three babies quite low in the pelvis, it simply did not feel good for me to run or put any more pressure on my body. I found that after carrying the second child, standing on my feet all day was simply enough to put immense pressure on my pelvis so running was out of the question. The body becomes more tired after every pregnancy so careful attention is required after having multiple births.
Danger and signs
You must cease exercise if you experience any of the following symptoms: Dizziness, Heart Palpitations, Leaking from your vagina, Nausea or Vomiting, Sudden change in Body Temperature or Swelling. If you experience any of the following more serious symptoms then STOP immediately and seek medical advice urgently. These include: Calf pain, Fainting, Blurred Vision, Sharp pains in belly, Vaginal Bleeding or if Baby movement slows down or stops.
Make sure that you don't lie flat on your back for a long time when exercising, particularly after the first trimester. Lying on your back may reduce the supply of blood to your uterus (womb) and make you feel dizzy or faint. This is something I paid great attention to as I have low blood pressure.
Stay cool when exercising. Drink enough water, wear light exercise clothes, and don't work out in hot, humid conditions.
Don't do exercise that risks you getting a blow to the stomach. This could include tennis and squash.
Don't do exercises in which you could lose your balance, especially in the third trimester.
Eating healthily and safely is important no matter which stage of pregnancy you're at. Keep in mind that you need about 200 extra calories a day during the third trimester, so if you're exercising, remember to eat well. Pregnant women use up more carbohydrates during exercise than women who aren't pregnant. So you'll need to eat plenty of carbohydrate-rich foods, such as bread, pasta and potatoes, if you're exercising often.
The importance of Pelvic Floor exerices
The pelvic floor muscles form a broad sling between your legs. They stretch from the pubic bone at the front of your body to the base of your spine at the back. They help to hold your bladder, uterus (womb) and bowel in place. These muscles also give you control over when you empty your bladder or move your bowels.
While you are pregnant, hormones make these muscles stretch. As a result, you may find you leak a little urine (stress incontinence) when you cough or a sneeze. The problem may carry on after your baby is born. Up to a third of new mums are affected by postnatal urine leaks. This is also what women experience later in their life during menopause. So even if you are not pregnant, strengthening your pelvic floor muscles will no doubt be of benefit to you as you grow older.
Good pelvic floor muscles may help to support the extra weight of pregnancy, shorten the second stage of labour when you push your baby out, heal the area between your anus and vagina (perineum) after birth by increasing the circulation of blood to it.
Body back after baby
I would wait until your stomach muscles have come back together before commencing any type of exercise. Performing abdominal workouts right after giving birth may damage your mid section permanently and in turn widen your waist appearance. There is no doubt that your mid section will never be as tight as it was after giving birth and even more so after multiple births, but by exercising and eating correctly we can sure mould our little bodies very close to their original structure.
A gap between the muscles of two finger widths or less is considered normal after giving birth. If your gap is three finger widths or more or your tummy makes a dome shape as you sit up, then you have over stretched your muscles. Pelvic floor and lower tummy exercises should help fix this. DO NOT do sit-ups or you will do permanent damage! If this gap remains three finger widths or more after a couple of weeks then ask your GP to refer you to a womens health Physiotherapist. A Physiotherapist will be able to provide you with specific exercises to help you.
It is advisable to commence Pelvic Floor Exercises straight after birth or as soon as you feel ready. I would do this for the first 6 weeks as well as light walks. It is best to start exercising slowly. Making sure you get enough rest after giving birth is just as important as starting a new workout routine. As your strength builds up you may start to increase the lengths of your walks and pace.