You don't need to write off wellness and workouts because you're expecting.
Once you get pregnant, it’s easy to think of it as nine months off from the real world, eating for two and couch-surfing your way through. But for positive mental health and wellness for bump and mum, keeping your mind and body as healthy as you can is key. Exercise during pregnancy is not a ‘one size fits all’ kind of thing – how much you exercise and what kind of exercise you do ultimately depends on you and your previous experiences and health.
According to midwife Shelley Carlyle, when it comes to exercise advice, they usually go by the motto
that most things you did before you were pregnant, you’ll be able to do during your pregnancy. So if you were someone who ran marathons before you got pregnant, that doesn’t mean that jogging has to stop now that you have a baby on board. That being said, if you never used to exercise before becoming pregnant, it’s not the time to start any kind of drastic workout routines. The aim of exercising during your pregnancy is not to lose weight. On average, most women will gain around two stone while they are pregnant, which is perfectly normal. The goal is to take care of your wellbeing, both physical and mental.
The best kind of activity for a pregnant woman is low impact, regular exercise such as walking or yoga, and Shelley advises that it’s never too early to start bouncing on one of the birthing balls; women can start that as early as possible. Your baby gets into birthing position way before then your due date (especially if it’s your first baby) so try to get one after your first scan. Top tip: Make sure it’s an anti-burst one, as you don’t want any accidents!
One of the most popular and recommended exercises that you can do while pregnant is pregnancy yoga. Emma Feeley is a midwife who covers various pregnancy yoga classes around the city. “It’s basically as it says on the tin – yoga for pregnant women! Each pose taught is designed to benefit the pregnant woman physically or emotionally.”
For pregnant women, most begin attending classes early in their second trimester and can continue all the way up until they are set to give birth. While most women with relatively healthy pregnancies can attend, there may be some cases where you might need to avoid it. If a pregnancy is complicated in some way, it is always best to discuss attending pregnancy yoga with a midwife or obstetrician.
According to Emma, women can attend pregnancy yoga as much as they like, with many studios running drop-in classes or six to eight week courses.
Going to pregnancy yoga regularly is beneficial as a woman will be able to build upon what is learned in previous weeks; however, that is not to say that someone who is overdue should not attend a pregnancy yoga class for the first time.
Pregnancy yoga lends a whole load of benefits. For those of you that are sceptical, you don’t have to have attended a yoga class previously to start doing pregnancy yoga. The classes prepare you for labour and birth, giving you yoga poses that can be used in labour, birthing positions, breathing techniques, positive birth affirmations and teaching you how to breath through contractions, which is key.
Emma says that one of the main aims of pregnancy yoga is to empower women:
It’s about empowering women to trust in themselves and their bodies’ ability to give birth. Techniques learned in pregnancy yoga will hopefully support women to have a positive birth experience, however they give birth – naturally, with epidural, caesarean birth, hospital birth, home birth.
The classes are also a way for a mother to bond with her baby, as many classes will do visualisations to help expectant mothers connect to their developing child. There is typically a long relaxation at the end of the class which is great for emotional wellbeing and a positive mindset.
If you are someone who trains regularly or has a personal trainer, then you must let them know once you’re pregnant so they can adjust your training accordingly to your new lifestyle. Pregnancy is a key time to start taking your own health seriously too, as well as your baby. As Shelley says, learning about exercise now is “a golden opportunity to educate women on creating a healthy lifestyle for themselves going forward. And in turn, they pass that on to the kids they’re having.”
Pregnancy imposes a certain amount of stress on your body, and while exercising is good for you and the baby, it is important to rest while pregnant. If you feel like you need to rest up and relax, then do so. Your body is going through an awful lot while pregnant so reducing the strain on your body is hugely important.
When it comes to exercise after having your baby, it all depends on what type of birth you had. If you had to have a C section, you should not exercise for at least six weeks after as your body needs sufficient time to recover. For each woman, the time it takes to get up and active depends on how they’re feeling. Many studios offer mother and baby yoga, says Emma: “This is a great way to regain some physical fitness after birth, bond with baby and meet other new mothers.” So whether you’re an avid trainer or just enjoy a stroll, exercise doesn’t have to stop when you’re pregnant – it just has to be altered to your new lifestyle.
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