THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO EXERCISE DURING PREGNANCY
In 2011 Peter Petrou fitness was rated by WOMOW as one of the top 3 personal training businesses in Sydney Australia and my aim is to make top quality personal training affordable to everyone. I specialise in boxing training, weights training including Olympic style lifting, Kettlebell training, weight loss & women’s fitness including exercise during pregnancy and post partum training and after training numerous clients and my wife during the course of their pregnancy and helping them get into shape afterwards. I was surprised at the lack of quality exercise during pregnancy training advice available. At least the amount of advice available that the average person could read and understand.
This is the first chapter of the book I wrote “The essential guide to exercise during pregnancy”
I have used it as an exercise during pregnancy training guide and I hope you feel comfortable to use it too.
Pregnancy and childbirth is a special time in a woman’s life, but it doesn’t have to mean the end of your physique as you know it. It is certainly no need for panic, when it comes to physical exercise. There is no real reason for women to put on huge amounts of excess weight during pregnancy and remain overweight after childbirth. If you were training regularly before pregnancy there is no reason why you cant continue at relatively the same level during the first three months of your pregnancy. Provided of course you first consult your obstetrician and are cleared of any contraindications and then train sensibly and follow the correct training during pregnancy protocol which you will come to understand by the end of this book as your training during pregnancy guide.
Unfortunately most people still think that pregnancy requires a sedentary lifestyle. They feel that strenuous activity will threaten the well being of the foetus. So they become couch potatoes. Even worse some train haphazardly while pregnant. Jeopardizing not only there health but that of their unborn child as well. There are so many misconceptions about training during pregnancy that many obstetricians are unsure how to counsel on the subject. Yet a properly implemented exercise program can provide many positive effects for pregnant women with virtually no risk, providing you follow your training during pregnancy guidelines.
There is also no physiological evidence behind cravings, so just because you’re pregnant it is no excuse to just eat whatever you want when you want. I personally feel that a lot of woman use pregnancy as an excuse to put on weight, eat what they want and be lazy. They eat enormous amounts of junk while they are pregnant and don’t do any exercise. They also use having a baby or being a mum as an excuse to let themselves go (You constantly here women saying how hard it is to keep their physique after having a baby. My response to them is if you did moderate exercise while you were pregnant and resumed light training after your six week check-up it wouldn’t be so hard. While in the back of my mind I am wondering if they do any training or want to do any training at all or if they are happy to let themselves go now). Although if you are reading this obviously that wont be you. Exercising during your pregnancy will usually mean that you will maintain a large percentage of your lean muscle mass and your resting metabolism will remain at an elevated level.
There are numerous benefits to pregnant women remaining active during pregnancy. Such as improved weight control and maintenance of your fitness. There may also be benefits in terms of reduced risk of development of gestational diabetes mellitus and improved psychological functioning. Moderate intensity aerobic type exercise has been shown to be safe during pregnancy. Although studies have found that resistance training has been the most effective exercise during pregnancy option.
Studies of resistance training (weights), using a moderate weight and avoiding anything heavy, have also shown no adverse effects. While at the same time maintaining your muscular stamina and metabolic rate. There may also be benefits of increased strength and flexibility. Some previous fears related to resistance training during pregnancy such as the risk of neural tube defects due to exercised induced hyperthermia that is suggested by animal studies is less likely in women because of more effective mechanisms of heat dissipation in humans.
Some benefits of exercise during pregnancy are;
1. Less likelihood of postpartum obesity. exercise decreases the likelihood of postpartum obesity. Although it is certainly possible to reshape your body after pregnancy, the best way to counteract postpartum weight gain is to stay in shape during pregnancy. By dedicating yourself to a properly regimented workout schedule, you will find it easier to recapture your original shape shortly after childbirth. Training allows you to preserve muscle mass throughout the term, keeping your resting metabolic rate elevated. Because activity levels tend to decrease during this period, sustaining your metabolism is extremely important as it helps to hinder excessive weight gain and make weight loss easier after delivery.
2. Physical and mental well being. Exercise helps improve your physical and mental well being during pregnancy. Pregnant women who remain active are less likely to lose their motivation and self confidence. Training increases your energy levels, reduces fatigue, and promotes a better sense of well being. This in turn helps boost self esteem so that you may fully appreciate this special period in your life.
3. Reduced lower back pain. Exercise will also help reduce the risk of lower back pain during pregnancy. Lower back problems are one of the most common ailments experienced during pregnancy. Because women tend to carry an extra 20 pounds or more in there abdominal region, a structural imbalance is created that places a great deal of stress on the lumbar region. If the muscles in this area are weak, stress is heightened, increasing the probability of developing lower back pain. Exercise will strengthen the associated musculature, improving posture and preventing potential problems. By maintaining muscular health, you can prevent many related anomalies, thus preserving your physical well being.
4. Easier labour. Now this will have to be the biggest selling point on training during pregnancy. Exercise can foster an easier labour. One of a woman’s worst fears during pregnancy is the thought of enduring a gruelling, prolonged labour. Research suggests that continued exercise, particularly during late pregnancy, may have a positive effect on the course of labour. The increased strength and level of fitness acquired through a regimented exercise program improves placenta growth and function, regulating contractions and facilitating a smooth delivery. Overall, the entire childbirth process is greatly enhanced, diminishing the pain and discomfort associated with labour.
If you are pregnant and wish to train during your pregnancy I salute you and respect your determination to remain fit during your pregnancy. There are a lot of advantages to training during pregnancy, which you will find listed in the pages ahead of you . Take my safety advise seriously! (you will be taking the life of your unborn child in your own hands). Exercise during pregnancy is ideal for women who are considered by there doctors to be at low risk and who were exercising prior to pregnancy. However pregnancy is not the time to start an exercise program for the previously unfit.
The first steps you will need to take should be to,
1. Consult your doctor to make sure its safe for you to exercise during the course of your pregnancy.
2. Understand the potential problems so you can better prevent a mishap.
3. Invest in a heart rate monitor to be sure your heart rate remains at a safe level. This is a very smart option to take as if you decide to go to the gym and participate in a class of any sort, there is no way for you or the instructor to be able to determine your heart rate.
4. Inform your fitness trainer or gym staff of your condition.
Its good that you want to train during your pregnancy and although I wouldn’t recommend you start your training during pregnancy program before getting clearance from your doctor. I do wish to list some of the contraindications to training during pregnancy. There are two types of contraindications, absolute contraindications, and relative contraindications. Absolute contraindications are conditions in which it is not recommended that you train during pregnancy. Relative contraindications are conditions which you must get reviewed by your obstetrician, who will make the decision as to whether you can safely exercise during your pregnancy.
Some Absolute contraindications to training during pregnancy are;
Maternal heart disease.
Diagnosed with multiple pregnancies e.g. twins.
History of three or more spontaneous miscarriages.
Primary pulmonary hypertension. (increased resistance to the blood flow through the lungs)
Pregnancy induced hypertension. (High blood pressure)
Intrauterine growth retardation (Baby size is smaller than expected).
Placenta Praevia ( a portion of the placenta sits over the cervix making it vulnerable to detachment).
Incompetent cervix (the cervix becomes softer and more open than normal).
Venous thrombosis or pulmonary embolism (clots to legs or lungs).
Known cardiac valve disease.
Some relative contraindications to training during pregnancy are.
History of bleeding during pregnancy.
Extremely under or overweight.
Breech presentation in third trimester.
I don’t want to just rant and rave about all of the things that can go wrong if you train whilst you are pregnant. Nor do I want scare you off the thought of training during your pregnancy. What I wish to do is help educate you on some of the dangers and to make you aware of how better to avoid any disasters. So before I start recommending any form of training, allow me to explain a little more about some of the risks and benefits that go hand in hand with a pregnancy exercise routine. I would like to see you through each one of your three trimesters and advise on the appropriate changes you will need to implement during each.
Regardless of your level of fitness, a workout during pregnancy will take longer than usual. You must do everything at a deliberate leisurely pace and be certain you have adequate recovery time between exercises.
One important thing to consider while pregnant is maintaining a stable body temperature while your training. Research has suggested that pregnancy increases your internal body temperature, predisposing your body to hyperthermia (overheating). Exercise in general helps to regulate your core body temperature. This is extremely important during pregnancy as this regulation will allow the foetus to develop at a normal level or even an increased rate. It is vitally important for you to make sure your training facility is well ventilated and air conditioned, allowing your body to remain cool throughout your workout. Dress accordingly (tights and layers in cold temperatures, cotton t-shirts and shorts in warm temperatures). Make sure you monitor your body temperature throughout your workout. If you notice any sharp variances, stop training immediately.
It is also vitally important to remain well hydrated throughout your workout. Consume up to 500ml of water before exercise and 1 litre of water over the course of a 1 hour training session. Be aware that lead is harmful to an unborn child, it is found in regular tap water and some soft drinks. Try to avoid potential problems by; using filtered tap or bottled water, and storing juices in plastic or glass containers.
There is actually accumulating evidence to suggest that participation in moderate intensity exercise during a woman’s pregnancy may actually enhance birth weight. While more intense or frequent exercise maintained longer into a woman’s pregnancy may result in lighter babies. Another reason why although it is safe to exercise during pregnancy it is important for the safety of your unborn child to follow the appropriate exercise during pregnancy guidelines.
If you wish to train during pregnancy I recommend that you take regular trips to your obstetrician to verify the existence of maternal-foetal adaptive reserve.
Apparently research has shown that the babies of mothers who exercise have higher IQ’s than babies of mothers who don’t. Although, and I do like to recommend mothers exercise during pregnancy. I have no idea how this study was conducted.
The additional weight you carry, especially late in your pregnancy, add to the effort during walking, climbing or jogging. Whilst pregnant your aerobic work capacity will be unchanged, and typical training adaptations can be found. Hypoglycaemia (A deficiency of glucose in the blood) occurs more easily during exercise in pregnant women, even though lipid provision is exaggerated late in your pregnancy. The influence of maternal exercise on the foetus is evident in a change in breathing patterns and the heart rhythm of the foetus. Pregnant patients with utero-placental insufficiency are more likely to have these foetal changes during exercise.
While you are pregnant a lot of the physiological (organ function), metabolic (energy changes and reserves) and endocrine changes that occur are evident even while you rest, the alterations found during exercise may not be the same as those found in the normal population. The exercise induced cardiopulmonary (Heart rate & blood pressure) changes are generally at a normal or slightly exaggerated level during pregnancy.
Not only will exercising while your pregnant increase your stamina, it will also aid in reducing the risk of gaining huge amounts of weight in the months leading up to childbirth. The idea is that exercise will keep your metabolism at a higher than normal level . As you will still be burning calories while at rest.
Exercise tends to help relax both the body and the mind. This is important during the last trimester. As the final trimester generally sees the mother having trouble sleeping. Exercising during pregnancy should help you to experience less sleep problems as training promotes positive hormone release, which will in turn help you to unwind, stay calm and enjoy regular sleeping patterns.
Follow up chapters on the essential guide to exercise during pregnancy will be-
Chapter 2, Trimester 1.
Chapter 3, Trimester 2.
Chapter 4, Trimester 3.
Chapter 5, Congratulations.
Peter Petrou fitness
The essential guide to exercise during pregnancy.
Remember it's easy to get fit, it's just hard work.