At TS Fitness, we’re celebrating the hard work and dedication of our TS Community mothers. Over the years, we’ve had numerous pre-and post-natal clients train with us. Studies show that exercise may prevent gestational diabetes (diabetes that develops during pregnancy), build the stamina needed for labor and delivery, and relieve stress. Both expecting and new mothers have a wide variety of challenges and things to consider when continuing their exercise routine.
Women should incorporate some kind of movement/ exercise during pregnancy unless they’ve been advised by their doctor not to do so. If you are not an exerciser, it is wise to start something that is mild. But pregnancy is not the time to decide you want to get into professional weight lifting so you should stick to routines you know.
If you are already active, you should consider sticking to similar types of exercises but scale them back as needed over the course of your pregnancy. Exercising is a great way to avoid gestational diabetes and prepares you to regain your level of fitness post birth. We recommend limiting workouts to about 3 to 4 times a week for about 30-60 minutes, depending, of course, on how your body feels. It is vital to listen to your body and as a frequent gym-goer you should be familiar with what feels good for you or what is pushing you past your limit.
We also suggest that pregnant women be cognizant of a few specific changes in their bodies. As you’re training, you need to be aware that your core body temperature can fluctuate, which can lead to overheating. Pregnant women may also experience an elevated heart rate, which may reduce their output during high-intensity exercise. We always recommend speaking to your trainer about modifying your workout HIIT classes with that in mind.
Additionally, as your pregnancy progresses, your joints and ligaments become more pliable and elastic as your body prepares to give birth. Though you may be more mobile, you are at a greater risk of injury if you do not maintain your muscle strength. It is important to incorporate exercises that improve your core and supporting muscles. We recommend squats with lighter loads to help develop the pelvic floor, lower back, and hip muscles which will be relied upon during labor.
Upper body training is often neglected in expecting mothers. You need to build upper body strength to deal with the impending need to physically carry a child. A few of our favorite upper body (partial core) exercises are farmer’s and rack carries to build stamina. These carries will help when you eventually hold your baby. Rows and pull-ups are great exercises to counteract the postural downside of having to carry a baby in your arms, too!
It is also important to understand your limitations and abstain from movements that can hurt your baby and yourself. During your second and third trimester, make sure you avoid movements that put you on your back as your growing uterus has the potential to put pressure on the main vein circulating blood back from the lower body. But there are easy modifications to keep you training-- for example, try doing an inclined bench pressure versus a traditional bench press movement. We also recommend avoiding rotational movements like Russian twists and bouncing exercises like jumping jacks.
After birth, don’t expect to rebound right back into your old routines. You should treat your body as if it had recently gone through a major injury. Fortunately though, if you were staying active during your pregnancy, you should have an easier time getting back into the swing of things. If you have a cesarean section, be patient and don’t get frustrated as your recovery may take longer than if you had a natural birth. A pregnant mother will experience separation in the abdominal wall so we suggest practicing diaphragmatic breathing and exercises like the dead bug after birth to help repair the deep muscles of the abs.