You’re pregnant! Congratulations on this exciting time! We’ve heard the craziest roller coaster ride in the world is not at Disneyland. It’s the nine months of pregnancy. To help you get through the ups and downs, twists and turns, we got the help of woman’s health physio Hazel from Physio Xtra to shed some light on what to expect when you’re expecting and how to make this ride as smooth as possible… (Ok enough with the roller coaster puns, promise;)
“For an increasing number of Australian women the road to pregnancy can be a long and emotionally draining ride. Once becoming pregnant, many women feel nervous about undertaking or keeping up their previous levels of physical activity for fear it may harm their unborn child.
However, regular physical exercise is more important that ever during pregnancy, and has been show to have many well-established health benefits including:
- Improved maternal fitness and the prevention of excessive weight gain
- Decreased prevalence of back and pelvic pain
- Prevention and management of diseases such as gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia
- Improved body image and resilience to adapting body shape/size
- Improved breath awareness and control for birth
Healthy pregnant women should aim for 150-300 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per week through activities such as:
- Brisk walking
In addition, they should also aim to perform exercises that contribute to maintaining or building muscle strength at least two days per week such as:
Before beginning any prenatal exercise program, women should undertake a medical assessment to identify any potential contraindications or risks. Once given medical clearance it is also advantageous to seek consultation with a Physiotherapist who is trained in the prescription of exercise for pregnant women. During your consultation a Physiotherapist can teach you how to engage your pelvic floor and core muscles correctly and safely, as well as provide you with education on any exercise modifications.
Common modifications to the prescription of exercise during pregnancy allow for the significant cardiovascular, respiratory, metabolic and musculoskeletal changes that occur including:
- Increase in body weight: Swimming or stationary cycling may be more comfortable compared with weight-bearing exercises such as walking in the later stages of pregnancy.
- Change in weight distribution: Altered centre of gravity causes a decrease in balance. Accordingly, modification of the exercise routine to minimise or avoid fast changes in direction would be a sensible precaution.
- Increase in ligament laxity: Stretching should always be performed in a slow and controlled manner.
- Decrease in blood pressure: To minimise dizziness associated with a reduction in blood pressure, rapid changes in posture (i.e. from lying or sitting to standing) should be avoided.
- Increase in metabolic rate: Take precautions to avoid exercising in high temperatures and humidity, ensure adequate hydration and wear loose-fitting clothing.
- Enlarged uterus: Pregnant women in the second and third trimesters should avoid performing exercises in a supine position for prolonged periods of time.
- Growing fetus: Contact sports are best avoided, or at least undertaken with awareness and serious consideration of the potential risks.
- Weakened pelvic floor: Activities that involve jumping or bouncing may add extra load to the pelvic floor muscles and are probably best avoided. Targeted exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles are recommended.
In addition to the many special considerations for exercise prescription for the pregnant woman, if any of the following symptoms appear pregnant women should be advised to stop exercise and seek medical attention:
- Chest pain / unexplained shortness of breath /dizzyness / sudden headache
- Decreased fetal movement
- Vaginal bleeding or loss of amniotic fluid
- Uterine contractions or pain in the lower back, pelvic area or abdomen
- Sudden swelling of ankles, hands or face
To help you move with your best foot forward during pregnancy it is important to build a strong team of medical and health professionals you trust. Under their guidance, exercise forms not only a fantastic way to help you stay physically and mentally at your best, but also allows you to form deeper connections to your body and your baby.”
Jana chats with Hazel about what you should know before getting into exercise during and after pregnancy.
Need to build a team of professionals? Phone PhysioXtra on (08) 7221 9110 and book in with Hazel to receive your 20% discount and b3 Prenatal yoga class. Feel confident and empowered knowing you have the best team around you for all your pregnancy needs.