Exercise During Pregnancy, Myth Busting:
As I'm a female personal trainer, it won’t surprise you to learn that I talk to a lot of pregnant women about exercise! And I find that a lot of them share the same concerns about what they think they can and can’t do during their pregnancy.
So in this blog, I’m going shed some light on the most common question I get:
“Should I lift heavy things while I’m pregnant?”
Let me start by saying that it’s a totally valid concern - you’re carrying very precious cargo and, especially if it’s your first pregnancy, you’re naturally going to be cautious about protecting it - and if you have any doubts then it’s absolutely right to err on the side of caution (see the note at the end of this blog).
However….while yoga, swimming, and walking have massive benefits during pregnancy, I believe that if you are not doing some kind of strength training then the physical job of being a mum is going to be all the harder.
Remember that as your pregnancy moves into it’s later stages, you will be lifting heavy thing every minute of every day: The Bump!
When your baby arrives you’ll be carrying him around a lot too. Think about it like this you'll realise how much work you'll be doing: your newborn baby will weigh about 3kgs, the dreaded awkward car seat will be about 4kgs (so baby + car seat = 7kgs!), then you may be lifting a buggy into the house & out of the car boot or maybe up the stairs if you live in an apartment or basement - plus you may have shopping bags, and not forgetting any toddlers (12kgs!) that you may already have!
So, the fact is that A LOT of picking up and carrying babies and children is done in pregnancy and afterwards. And they are heavy! So your body needs to be prepared and you need to know how to lift these things safely (i.e. using your breath to activate your core muscles & pelvic floor) and you will need a strong back and core which weight training helps to give you.
By weight training, I don't necessarily mean lifting big barbells in the gym
(by all means this is great in pregnancy if you are used to lifting heavy!) but simple body weight, resistance band, and dumbbell exercises.
With my pregnant personal training clients, I limit the weights we lift during to about 6kgs (again, unless they are already used to lifting heavier than this). It is important though to reduce the weights down from what you are used to lifting pre-pregnancy and often by the third-trimester body weight alone is plenty!
Doing Squats, deadlifts and lunges will help you with lifting, carrying and getting off the floor holding a small baby (essential to be able to do!). Then rows for upper back to keep it strong and help with counteracting posture changes which occur in pregnancy and lots of dumbbell or resistance band moves for getting arms & shoulders strong.
Here is a very simple circuit to get you started. You will need a set of dumbbells and/or a resistance band (or 2 baked bean tins work well!)
Bridge x 12 reps
Squats x 15 - with body weight (or add dumbbells)
Reverse Lunges x 12 each side - with body weight (or with dumbbells)
Row x 15 (resistance band or dumbbell)
Raised push up on wall x 12
Remember to always EXHALE on EXERTION which means breathe out on the hardest part of the move.
I’ll be posting a video of these exercises very soon so look out for them.
Super important: If you have complications or concerns when it comes to exercising in your pregnancy please consult your GP or midwife.
And if you are in the Richmond, Teddington or Twickenham area and are unsure about weight training, the exercises above, where to begin with exercising, or how to adapt your pre-pregnancy exercise/gym programme to make it safe & effective for pregnancy then do get in touch with me through the website or email firstname.lastname@example.org . Or, you're further afield seek the help of another qualified prenatal personal trainer.