When I found out I was pregnant, I immediately started to look into research on recommended exercises to stay ahead of the game. I instantly realised that there was a lot of dispute on what is good for you and what is bad when going through all trimesters.
I have always thought when people say “listen to your body” is the most cliché thing, but it really is the best advice to give anyone. For me, there are days when I can go spinning and others when all I want to do is lie on the sofa with my legs up! It is all about balance, and balance being a good exercise to continue throughout pregnancy which can be as simple as standing on one leg and engaging your pelvic floor.
The last few months have been an eye-opener for me as I have treated numerous pregnant women (Pre-Natal) and post-partum patients, but being on the other side has been exciting and incredibly interesting for me. It has become more and more evident just how important it is to look after your body, and I wanted to focus on the physical side through appropriate exercises.
There has been a huge amount of research on exercise during pregnancy and after hours of studying, I was still confused! But here are some key snippets I took from my studies on safe exercise tips throughout pregnancy:
– EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT!
– IF YOU HAVE ANY NIGGLES DO NOT LEAVE THEM – whether it be back pain, foot pain, neck discomfort, sciatica, pubic pain, leg swelling or even struggling to sleep – get yourself to a Physio as they can advise you on the best way forward
– HORMONES – Progesterone and Relaxin play a pivotal role during pregnancy, their job is to relax the ligaments in order to facilitate childbirth. Although this is an incredibly clever bodily function it does come with some downsides as the relaxed ligaments can, in turn, cause back, sacroiliac and hip pain. Sometimes lumbar/sacroiliac supports can really help
– PELVIC FLOOR EXERCISES – Something you can do anywhere! On the train, the train, even having a cup of tea – no excuses and they really do wonders
– SLEEP – Lack of sleep can increase your cortisol levels (the nasty stress hormone) and can also affect your attention span, therefore investing in a pregnancy cushion that works for you could be priceless. I also believe that doing a small amount of exercise each day will also help your sleep pattern – even just a 20-minute walk
– PILATES AND YOGA – During my first 6 months of pregnancy I have made sure that I have continued with my Pilates class once a week and I really believe this has helped me keep my core and gluts strong stay, helping me to carry the extra weight without pain! I absolutely love reformer pilates but that is my personal preference – find what suits you. ALWAYS tell the teacher you are pregnant as they will adapt some of the exercises for you
– WALKING – I choose to walk into work three times a week to save myself from the busy tube and to get my 10,000 steps in before even starting my day at work – again I find this has really helped my sleeping patterns. I have however noticed that I need to slow my pace down or I start to get slight hip pain – but again, listen to your body
– SWIMMING – although I haven’t managed to fit swimming into my busy schedule, I would highly advise my patients to swim when pregnant – a great way to keep the exercise up at a low and steady pace without much stress on your body
All in all I feel incredibly lucky that I have been able to keep away from back pain and sciatica in the first 6 months of my pregnancy and I strongly believe that my Pilates and exercises have helped. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly need to rest more and put my feet up for a cup of tea once in a while but I am a big believer in keeping as strong as possible physically to help take the pressure off the spine.
I cannot stress enough that this is my own personal routine that I have found works for me, but everyone is different and needs to find their own comfortable journey through pregnancy. If you have any worries or pain, seeing a specialist is key as we will most certainly be able to help.
Author: Lucy Mitchell
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