What to expect when you're expecting - handy hints for your pregnancy journey.
Congratulations! You’re pregnant!
Pregnancy can be both an exciting and daunting time for many, filled with challenges and for some, apprehension. The next year or so will be one filled with tremendous change but also much joy. Most women and partners are keen to find out all they can about the journey ahead, and how to ensure you have a healthy pregnancy and to nurture the life growing inside you. There is plenty of information out there for you to read and learn, so I’ve endeavoured to put together a few handy hints that will help you on your journey.
Early Pregnancy – The First Trimester
An exciting time that for most seems a little surreal as the visible signs of pregnancy are yet to surface. As the first three months progress, you can expect to notice a few early body changes and most commonly morning sickness will be experienced by 50-90% of women. There are many old wives’ tale remedies to assist with the symptoms, but below are some suggestions that you may find helpful:
- Small, frequent meals
- Avoiding heavy/ stodgy, fatty or spicy foods can also be of benefit
- Ginger root can be of assistance eg. Drinking ginger tea
- Keep hydrated between meals; drinking small amounts frequently can be helpful
General fatigue and lethargy can be common during these early months and keeping up with your exercise can seem like a battle. However, it is important for your ongoing stamina and fitness levels to try and keep up with some regular form of exercise.
Exercise during Pregnancy
Can exercise and pregnancy go together? Absolutely! It is really important that you keep up with your regular exercise routine during your pregnancy, as it provides immeasurable benefits to you and your growing baby. Exercise is a great way to help reduce the effects of pregnancy; like aches and pains, improves your stamina, keeps you and your baby healthy and also assists in controlling your weight gain throughout your pregnancy journey. Current guidelines suggest around 10-15kgs is the appropriate amount of weight gain, so keeping up with regular exercise will definitely assist this.
Recent research has changed some long held beliefs around how much to exercise during pregnancy. Once upon a time, we were told to “take it easy,” and not over-exert ourselves when pregnant. Then our views changed with studies showing improved benefits of continuing to exercise during pregnancy at your previous level of activity. More recently however, The Royal Australian College of Obstetricians have changed their guidelines once again, and it’s great news! We now recommend increasing your level of exercise during pregnancy compared to your pre-pregnancy levels as the benefits are multifactorial. Despite what you may be told by well-meaning family and friends there is minimal risk to your growing baby.
What you choose to do really depends on your level of exercise prior to getting pregnant. Provided you have no pregnancy complications, of which your GP or Obstetrician will inform you of, you can continue at that same level and even increase it if possible. Obviously, common sense prevails in these situations, and we’re certainly not advocating you start training for a marathon or start training twice daily at a high intensity for the duration of your pregnancy, but we do want to highlight just how important exercise is. Weight gain is just one of the many important factors we need to keep an eye on, specifically to assist in ensuring our blood sugars remain within appropriate limits to reduce the likelihood of getting gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes has considerable effects on the growing baby and regular exercise can be helpful at reducing the likelihood of this occurring.
The type of exercise that is great for pregnant women includes:
- Swimming; avoid breaststroke if you have any pelvic girdle pain
- Cross trainer
- Elliptical trainer
- Brisk Walking
- Jogging; provided you have been doing this pre-pregnancy. Always listen to your body as your progress through the trimesters, as eventually this type of exercise will be too challenging and it is best avoided
- Gym classes; in most cases these should be all fine as long as you are familiar with the technique and exercise that are being instructed
There are some exercises that are not ideal for pregnant women, so we always suggest discussing things with a Physiotherapist who understands exercise during pregnancy. That way your exercise program can be modified if needed and you can remain fit, active and pain free throughout your pregnancy journey.
There is a common misconception that exercising during pregnancy can reduce blood flow to your growing baby, cause you to over-heat, and that you should reduce your exercise for these reasons. In actual fact, these things have consistently been shown not to occur, so exercise is, in fact quite safe as long as you follow the above recommendations. If you are in doubt though, please discuss with a health professional like a physiotherapist. The best way to judge how hard you’re working is simply by how breathless you are. Your aim is to be breathless enough that you’d have some trouble keeping up a conversation whilst exercising without puffing a little throughout the sentences.
Pilates, particularly pregnancy-pilates can be an excellent way to maintain your fitness, your core strength and help with your posture and pelvic floor strength throughout your pregnancy. We suggest finding a centre that specialises in pregnancy Pilates to ensure you are getting the most benefit out of the exercise.
Written by Brooke Williams - Bachelor of Physiotherapy, Post Grad Cert (Continence & Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy) APAM | Director & Principal
Back In Motion on Collins Street (Melbourne) 9602 3332
Free assessments available so if you have any questions for Brooke definitely take advantage of this offer!