Pregnancy Tips

Fit, flexible and fabulous darling !

Fit, flexible and fabulous darling !

A pre-natal fitness routine is a win, win, win for mum and baby. Gentle exercise in pregnancy is good for you both as the more active you are the easier it is to adapt to a change in shape, assists in maintaining a healthy weight and general mobility and even better, will help with labour. The old wives tale that exercise is not good for you in pregnancy has been debunked by numerous pieces of global research showing active woman are less likely to experience problems in labour than couch potatoes!

It's all about balance – so keep up a regular fitness regime with your normal daily activity whether it’s swimming, dancing, yoga or walking but don’t get overtired and exhaust yourself. As the pregnancy develops, you may have to slow down or change the type of exercise you choose to do to keep fit or if advised to do so by the maternity team you are under. If in doubt speak to them for advice.

The general health advice is that you should be able to hold a conversation while exercising when pregnant. If you become breathless as you are talking, then you're probably exercising too strenuously. A gentle walk or swim is still beneficial – it does not have to be a rigorous form of exercise to benefit your mind and body.

The do’s and don’t’s for keeping fit include warming up and cooling down, no strenuous activity, and certainly not in hot weather remembering to drink plenty of fluids to keep hydrated whether the sun is out or not. It is important if you do choose to go to a class to exercise that it is run by someone who is well qualified and knows you are pregnant.

Whatever your fitness level, Yoga for Pregnancy is a particularly good way to relax and spend time with your unborn baby. Learn breathing techniques, practise birthing poses and connect with your changing body. You’ll meet other mums and get plenty of practical tips – and you’ll feel more positive and relaxed about birth, too. Swimming is another popular activity as the water can support your increased body weight which is a wonderful way of relaxing. Lots of local pools lay on special pre-natal swimming classes so check your local for information.

The advice is to avoid those sports which have the potential for a high risk of falls – it may sound obvious but avoid horse riding, skiing cycling and gymnastics with falls risking damaging your unborn baby. Contact sports such as boxing, judo or squash carry the risk of being hit, again a threat to babe. Also avoid lying flat on your back for long periods as the weight presses on the main blood vessel and could make you feel faint.

Routines recommended by the national health service and child birth trusts include a number of specific exercises to strengthen your muscles and help you carry the extra weight of pregnancy. They'll also make your joints stronger, improve circulation and ease backache.

Tummy toning

As your baby gets bigger, you may find that the hollow in your lower back increases and this can give you backache. These exercises strengthen stomach (abdominal) muscles and may ease backache, which can be a problem in pregnancy:

  • start in a box position (on all 4s) with knees under hips, hands under shoulders, with fingers facing forward and abdominals lifted to keep your back straight
  • pull in your stomach muscles and raise your back up towards the ceiling, curling your trunk and allowing your head to relax gently forward. Do not let your elbows lock
  • hold for a few seconds then slowly return to the box position
  • take care not to hollow your back: it should always return to a straight/neutral position
  • do this slowly and rhythmically 10 times, making your muscles work hard and moving your back carefully
  • only move your back as far as you can comfortably

Pelvic tilt exercises

  • stand with your shoulders and bottom against a wall
  • keep your knees soft
  • pull your tummy button towards your spine, so that your back flattens against the wall: hold for 4 seconds then release
  • repeat up to 10 times

Pelvic floor exercises

Pelvic floor exercise are important to strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor, which come under great strain in pregnancy and childbirth. The pelvic floor consists of layers of muscles that stretch like a supportive hammock from the pubic bone (in front) to the end of the backbone (spine).If your pelvic floor muscles are weak, you may find that you leak urine when you cough, sneeze or strain. This is quite common, and there is no reason to feel embarrassed. All pregnant women should do pelvic floor exercises, even if you're young and not suffering from stress incontinence now. 

And when you’re done how about booking a maternity photoshoot – you’ll be feeling well, looking fit and healthy so it’s the perfect moment to book a slot. The ideal time is between 30-36 weeks pregnant with photo sessions taking about an hour. Studios offer hair and make-up as an add-on as well as plenty of props, so let your creative self emerge – it maybe in flowing velvet on the moors or crisp  loose cotton on the beach, the choice is limitless and the results -a treasured keepsake moment captured for ever.