As Sam Wood eagerly awaits the arrival of his second child with wife Snezana Wood nee Markoski, we asked the personal trainer to share a tip or five on how to approach pregnancy and exercise. At the core of his message is ‘doing things your own way’, listening to your body and embracing the journey. While some pregnant women shy away from exercise out of fear, others may feel a desire to stick to their usual routines. The fine line lies somewhere in the middle. As Sam suggests, getting the all clear from your doctor will help put your mind at ease and have you feeling comfortable about keeping active. With plenty of low impact options on the table, here is what else you need to know.
Don't compare your journey to that of others...
Every pregnancy is different so you need to find a fitness routine that works for you. Before you start your exercise program, it is advised that you notify your doctor or midwife and check in with them during different stages of your pregnancy. This will help put your mind at ease when it comes to staying active.
Naturally, as your pregnancy progresses, so will your routine. You will need to amend both the level and frequency of your exercise as your pregnancy progresses. Just remember that every experience is different, so you need to find a routine that works for you and your body.
Don't be afraid to exercise
Don’t be scared of exercising while pregnant. It can be incredibly beneficial to both body and mind during and post pregnancy. If you are not experiencing any difficulties such as high blood pressure or pelvic instabilities, exercising up to four times a week for short periods (between 20 and 30 minutes) can deliver plenty of benefits. These include maintaining your fitness levels, reducing stress, improving sleep and helping your body prepare for the labour process.
If you're going to do one thing, it should be this...
Always do your pelvic floor exercises. These muscles come under significant strain during pregnancy and childbirth. Ensuring you work these muscles both during and after birth may help minimise the risk of incontinence and other complications.
During your postpartum fitness stage, once you have received the all clear from your doctor, you can incorporate exercises such as a pelvic bridge into your routine. This consists of lying on your back with your feet hip-width apart, knees bent. You begin by inhaling then exhaling as you draw your abs up and in toward your spine. Tilt your pelvis up, lifting your hips off the floor into a bridge. Slowly lower down to starting position. Repeat five times, building up to 10.
You can also try the Couch Pelvic Floor exercise here.
Remember that you have plenty of options...
Look for low impact activities during your pregnancy such as walking, swimming, water aerobics and even using a stationary exercise bike. Again, it is advisable that you speak to your doctor first to get the all clear and to receive more information on exercise standards. As an example, you should avoid swimming in pools heated above 28 degrees and exercising for extended periods of time (longer than 30 minutes at a time).
Consider looking into Yoga and Pilates classes that have been specifically designed for expecting mums. Many studios offer specially modified alternatives, which can be particularly beneficial in teaching pelvic floor exercises and helping you feel relaxed during all stages of your journey.
Love your journey!
Finally and most importantly, don’t be too hard on yourself. This is the most beautiful time of your life and should be celebrated, not a time that puts pressure or stress on you because you can’t do what you used to. Rather than focusing on what you can't do or the weight gained, celebrate what your body is able to do, which is to give life.