For many women maintaining a regular exercise regime during pregnancy can be challenging to say the least. For some it’s hard to find a balance between family, work and personal commitments. For others, exercise is limited by pain and injury. Actually for many it’s just in the ‘too hard' box. With Hey Fit Mama I can help you safely exercise now, and here you are :) the first step is already complete. Now let’s reinforce why it so important to exercise. Many mums have questions and concerns regarding the safety and risks of exercising during pregnancy. The next few sections in the education page aim to cover the main points and evidence around this topic.
Q: WHAT CHANGES HAPPEN TO THE BODY DURING PREGNANCY?
During the 10 months you are pregnant (yes I said 10 - because there are 40 weeks in gestation) your body is going to change quite considerably and after it’s all over, it will go back to the way it was. Amazing really. The miracle of childbirth. It’s important to be aware of these changes and how they may impact on your ability to exercise or how your body feels from day to day. I love a little rhyming here and there and thought I might write these changes into a little poem for you.
THE 40 WEEKS OF DAILY CHANGE
During your pregnancy you should expect to gain weight as your stomach grows.
By the end you might not even see your toes!
Your centre of mass moves forward, which places a forward pull on your lower back and increases the curve of your spine.
It becomes difficult to bend fully forward with time.
Often your upper back rounds, your bust enlarges and your ligaments may become sensitised and sore.
Even though this is normal, there are exercises and stretches that keep you moving and offload these regions to keep you moving more.
Your heart changes too, in the exertional and resting state.
You’ll notice an increase in your resting heart beat and a reduction in your maximal heart rate.
Your blood pressure drops while your blood volume and haemoglobin levels increase.
Therefore during pregnancy you may need to be mindful of shortness of breath,
and if you get too puffed, your exercise might need to cease.
Don’t hate the pregnancy hormones… too many people give them a bad name.
Relaxin isn't the bad guy here… it helps you get ready for the birthing game.
Many other pregnancy hormones increase and are required to help your pelvis and body accommodate,
as your body changes at a rather rapid rate.
Particularly around 28 to 30 weeks there is a significant surge
in these hormones as you getting ready for the birth.
Your pelvic floor unfortunately becomes weaker, from holding the increased weight of the pregnancy,
and maybe a little damage during delivery...
So be sure to have a pelvic floor assessment before you start exercising with me.
Your stomach doesn’t tear, that’s truly a myth.
It stretches along the linea alba, a ligament separating the two halves of your six pack,
to accommodate for the increased abdominal width.
But don’t worry, as I said before, it’s normal and it’s good.
And we’ll work hard to safely get them back to feeling like a solid plank of wood.
If, during your pregnancy when you lean backwards your stomach cones like a Toblerone,
This is an indication that you’re entering the ‘no sit ups and crunches’ zone.
You’ll have to start avoiding sitting straight up and swap to rolling over in bed.
And maybe ask your partner to do the vacuuming instead :)
Ribs expand and change alignment as they make room for your growing tummy.
This can be uncomfortable but it’s a sign you’re soon going to be a mummy.
Mums often complain of feeling like there is no room to eat,
and instead all they can feel are their baby’s feet.
Fluid balance is the final straw and some of you will become a little swollen and puffy.
My advice here is to exercise in water where there is less weight and you will feel more comfy.
Adopting a low impact exercise program helps to project your joints.
Also remember to drink lots, eat well and wear clothes that are comfortable to avoid overheating, which is another important point.
So coming back to the question above about 'What normal changes occur?'
I hope this poem has enlightened you and given your motivation to exercise a little spur.
1. Brown, W. J., Finch, C., Robinson, D., Torode, M., & White, S. (2002). SMA Statement: The benefits and risks of exercise during pregnancy. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 5(1), 11-19.
2. Okanishi, N., Kito, N., Akiyama, M., & Yamamoto, M. (2012). Spinal curvature and characteristics of postural change in pregnant women. Acta obstetricia et gynecologica Scandinavica, 91(7), 856-861.
3. Aldabe, D., Ribeiro, D. C., Milosavljevic, S., & Bussey, M. D. (2012). Pregnancy-related pelvic girdle pain and its relationship with relaxin levels during pregnancy: a systematic review. European Spine Journal, 21(9), 1769-1776.