As a Fitness Professional specialising in prenatal and postnatal fitness, I get tired of common misconceptions about exercising during pregnancy. A well-balanced, safe workout regime has far more benefits to both mum and bub than no exercise at all.
Some common myths I have come across are:
#1 - Lifting weights are dangerous to both you and baby
New research has shown that fitter and stronger mums have shorter labours, less chance of preterm labour, fewer complications during pregnancy and labour and shorter hospital stays. Mums have also shown a lower Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) during labour! As for benefits to your bouncing bundle of joys, they include higher APGAR scores and the ability to handle labour much better. It has also shown a lower instance of cardiovascular problems later in life and babies whose mums kept fit during pregnancy has also shown faster maturity of their brains.
#2 - Pregnancy niggles will be made worse and you run an increased risk of injury
Yes, the hormone Relaxin is running through your body loosening the ligaments and weakening the joints, which is all necessary for you to bring your baby into this world, but instead of being an argument against strength training, it should actually be an argument FOR strength training! Think about it - a stronger body will have increased stability! If you work with a qualified Prenatal Fitness Instructor to work out a safe strengthening program, they will be able to teach you correct form and make adaptions as your body changes!
#3 - You need to keep your heart rate under 140bpm
Yes, you need to be mindful of over doing it but the 140bpm rule is outdated. A much better indication is using RPE and the talk test. If you are still able to hold a conversation, but still feel like you are getting a workout, you're good. If you are struggling to suck in oxygen and not managing to talk - you need to bring it down a notch... But doing higher intervals all helps to prepare you for labour. Doing 30-60 seconds work, short rest and repeat is pretty much the same cycle your body will go through during labour!
#4 - Do not train your abdominals because it will cause separation
Uhm - no.... Not training your core will only result in a heck of a sore back! Proper core training is vital during pregnancy! A strong core will reduce the size and severity of Diastasis Recti (stomach separation) and also help your DR to recover quicker after giving birth! Obviously proper core training during pregnancy does not include sit-ups, crunches or front planks!
#5 - You should avoid all exercise except walking and yoga during pregnancy
Walking and yoga are both needed as part of your prenatal fitness regime, but strength training adds another (and necessary) dimension to your exercise! Some benefits of strength training:
* Helps to support your changing body
* Maintain your strength as you carry extra weight
* Aids recovery after birth
* Prepare you and your baby for those intense moments during labour.
(Source: Jessie Mundell - Mundell Lifestyles)
Now that the myths have been debunked, let's look at some benefits of general exercise during pregnancy:
* Improved Fitness
* Improved Muscle Tone and Strength
* Increased Self-Esteem
* Increased Sense of Wellbeing
* Feeling in Control of your Body
* Heightened Body Awareness
* Weight Control
* Relieving stress
* Bounce back quicker after giving birth
* Promotes good posture
All-in-all, the benefits completely outweigh the risks. Obviously there are some instances where you should not exercise at all during pregnancy, and you should always check with your doctor or midwife whether it is safe for you to be exercising! Also make sure that you find a fitness professional who has a qualification in prenatal fitness, as this will help you to have the safest workout for both you and bub!