Pregnancy might not seem like the perfect time to get fit but actually, there’s no reason you can’t up your fitness levels as a mum-to-be. Plus, with the physical challenges of labour just around the corner, those hours you’re putting in now could really cut the hours you spend in the delivery room!
Fitness expert Amanda Hargreaves, is championing pregnancy exercise, encouraging mums to keep active right up to birth (and beyond!). We grilled her on how to get fit for you and your baby.
Where to start?
“It’s perfectly possible to increase your fitness levels in pregnancy so don’t worry if you’ve never worked out before,” recommends Amanda.
“Start very slowly. Just five to 10 minutes a day is fine then as you progress you can up it. And start with simple exercises. There are some on my Pregercise DVD that are designed with beginners in mind that are totally safe and effective.
“It’s really common for women to only start thinking about their health and exercise when they get pregnant because that’s what you need to do get healthy and fitter.
“I’d always recommend you speak to your midwife or GP before starting any exercise programs, even though they will most likely only advise against it if you have a medical condition.”
Why do you need to exercise?
“One of the reasons to keep active is that when you’re pregnant you get many fairly common complaints thanks to the changes in your body and your hormones. You can feel tired, gain weight (apart from on the bump!), get back pain and swelling. Doing regular exercise can really help relieve those sorts of things,” Amanda explains.
“If you’ve never exercised before, you can overdo it and your heart rate can go too high, which can make you feel uncomfortable and dizzy," Amanda warns.
"Because you're not used to it, you might not read the signs that you're taking your body to fatigue. So really try to pay attention to your body. Look out for shortness of breath, headaches, cramps, muscle weakness. If you do notice anything like that, consult your doctor before doing anything else.
“Activities that you should definitely avoid are sports such as diving, skiing, horse riding, sprinting or even running if you’ve never run before. I also say to avoid ball work, so anything where you can lose your balance because you want to prevent any impact affecting the baby.”
Preparing for labour
“One exercise I always recommend is simple walking. It’s really a fantastic form of exercise. It’s brilliant that you can begin something in pregnancy and then carry it on when you have your baby in a pram.
"You also want to build up your stamina so endurance exercises that I recommend are swimming and cycling, as well as walking. They all do the same thing so if you prefer one you can just stick to it. For a complete beginner I’d say just stick with one of the three and concentrate on building up your strength. If you're a regular exerciser you might want to alternate the three so you don’t get bored, as they all have the same benefits."
Starting out? Try Amanda’s three simple pre-natal exercises that you can do from the comfort of your own home. And you can get the complete workout on her Pregasise DVD to take you through pregnancy, labour and getting back into shape as a new mum.