Although keeping fit and active during pregnancy is a must for both baby and mom, there are some things to consider before adapting or embarking on a training programme. Dr Etti Barsky (MBBCh, MSC Sports Science), the training director of Preggi Bellies SA gives us some tips on how to train safely during your pregnancy.
The do's of safe exercising
- If you have never exercised before make sure that the trainer or programme you have chosen understands the changes that will be happening to your body and can train you appropriately.
- It is a good idea to check with your gynaecologist/midwife that there is no medical reason why you cannot exercise.
- Try to make sure you get regular exercise at least three times per week as this is preferable to intermittent activity.
- Look for exercises that are low-impact but don’t compromise on intensity.
- Aim to train at a moderate intensity; if you had to give yourself a score out of 20 for effort, aim for 12 – 14.
- A five to ten minute warm-up and cool down is advised. The colder the weather, the longer the warm-up.
- Limit the intensity of your workout in hot, humid weather.
- Always make sure that you drink enough water before, during and after your training session. Being dehydrated will affect your stamina.
- Make sure that you have something to eat half an hour to an hour before your workout.
- Make sure that you do support your pelvic floor while exercising. (To do this you would do the same as when holding in gas and the flow of urine.)
- Train right until the end of your pregnancy - this is where you’ll see the greatest benefit.
The don't's of training during pregnancy
- Never exercise if you are feeling ill. The general rule of thumb for a cold is, if you’re feeling achy, and feverish then don’t train.
- Try not to do exercises with prolonged motionless standing. This causes a drop in blood pressure and may result in dizziness.
- Make sure that you do not hold your breath while exercising - especially during strength training.
- Don't over-stretch; a stretch should never be painful. Due to the relaxation of connective tissue and ligaments you can over-stretch.
- Don't ignore warning signs of when to stop exercising and notify your care provider immediately.
- Avoid exercises which involve lying flat on your back after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
- Listen to your body; if you are tired keep the exercise intensity lower for that training session.
Source: Dr Etti Barsky (MBBCh, MSC Sports Science), training director of Preggi Bellies South Africa.