Personal trainer and Shadowcamp founder Moni Meredith helps a pregnant reader hit the gym with peace of mind.
Q: I’m in my second trimester of pregnancy so have just started to show.
Recently I was at the gym, working out in the weights area, when a fellow gym-goer approached and
Her comments seemed a bit extreme but they did worry me. How can I (safely) stay fit throughout my pregnancy? Or am I better off sticking to gentle walking and yoga?
A: While it’s usually well-intentioned, unsolicited pregnancy advice can make a vulnerable pregnant woman’s head spin so let’s separate fact from fiction.
There are countless benefits for both mother and baby when it comes to moving your body while pregnant. Helping to reduce the risk of developing gestational diabetes and weight gain-related pre-eclampsia, keeping active can also positively impact your mental health, help reduce back pain, aid an easier labour, allow better quality sleep and increase your energy levels.
If you were an active gym-goer it is safe and beneficial for you to continue to be one, while listening to and respecting your body. It is not the time to join your first combat class or sign up for an adventure course. It is important to note that every pregnancy is different, as is each stage of pregnancy.
Your number one rules are to listen to your body, focus on slow controlled form and keep an eye on your energy levels. If it doesn’t feel safe, park it for the future.
Your body goes through many changes during pregnancy, which means your routine may have to adapt too. Feel it out on a day-to-day basis. If you feel tired, focus on fuelling yourself and take guilt-free rest. Hormone changes and lack of rest can really affect the way you look after yourself and connect to yourself. The way you feel changes frequently and that’s normal.
If your weights start to become too challenging, drop them down and again, focus on your form. Don’t underestimate the benefits of body-weighted exercises either.
Comfortable cardio is okay but don’t overheat. Just keep an eye on how sweaty you get. Do not be struggling for breath. Take more breaks.
Don’t lift challenging weights above the head. This can increase the curve of your lower spine and exacerbate lumbar stresses. It can also affect posture and blood flow. Remember the core muscles move and they have a massive role to play in stabilising.
It’s not the time to go looking for a six-pack. Focus on pelvic floor strength, mobility and flow.
Avoid laying on your back as your bump develops. The added weight can press down on to your back and spine, compressing large vessels that carry your oxygen and blood supply around your body for both you and your baby.
Finally, you may want to add in some Pilates if you haven’t already. This is such a nice go-to, with countless benefits during but also postpartum. Adding it in now will give you more options if you hit limits with your weight programme.
Walking is highly beneficial, just be aware of your surroundings. Other incredible options are swimming, stretch and yoga.
Moni Meredith is a qualified personal trainer with more than 15 years’ experience. Her holistic approach combines Pilates, body conditioning, lengthening, weight training, boxing and hormone and stress release, nutrition and mental wellbeing, all of which she coaches through her online programme, Shadowcamp.
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