While it may be tempting to put your feet up for nine months, demand foot massages on the hour, and take to the ice-cream tub with gusto, those pesky experts keep banging on about the benefits of prenatal exercise. Keeping that core strong is important for supporting your back when lugging around a hefty bump, and being strong, healthy and flexible helps with recovery post-birth, and with all that bending and lifting that comes with mothering a small child.
On the other hand, if you’re a gym bunny or F45 fanatic, you may need to wind things back a little. Here are six great – and safe – ways to work out while you’re eating for two.
Anything that focuses on deep breathing, relaxation and that mind-body connection is excellent preparation for childbirth. Some modifications will need to be made for pregnancy, like ditching any inverted poses, and you’ll need to save the hot yoga ‘til after Junior arrives. Most instructors will be able to guide you through any necessary modifications, or you can always join a specific prenatal class.
With a focus on using your pelvic floor muscles and core, pilates is an ideal workout for expecting mums. Repetitive strengthening and stabilising exercises are combined with deep breathing for a workout that enhances flexibility and creates long, lean, limber muscles. In mat pilates, many sequences are performed on your hands and knees, a position which is good for removing strain from your back and can also help get bub into the right positon to make his great escape. Like yoga, you’ll need some modifications to some of the postures. Look around for antenatal classes, or smaller group classes with an instructor well versed in pilates during pregnancy.
When you’re working out with a bump, it’s important to mimimise wear and tear on the joints, which is why heading to the pool is perfect. There’s swimming, of course, but if the monotony of lap after lap bores you to tears, look around for an aqua fitness class near you. Working with your natural buoyancy keeps injuries and strain at bay, and the water helps regulate your body temperature. Walking or jogging in water also helps strengthen your core, which will come in handy for childbirth and recovery. Melbourne-based mums-to-be should check out Aquamums for physio-led classes around town.
The best part about walking? There’s no equipment required, and it’s free-ninety-nine! This exercise is low-impact and you can really make it as low or high intensity as you like. It’s a great way to ease into fitness if you’ve been a couch potato up until this point. Not convinced? Keeping fit and maintaining a healthy weight helps lower the chance of gestational diabetes. Grab a girlfriend and enjoy some regular ‘me time’ before the little whirlwind arrives.
Look out for a prenatal barre class that combines pilates and ballet barre moves with light cardio and resistance work to keep you toned, flexible and strong. With some modifications – no crunches, for starters – a barre workout will keep you in fine form during pregnancy and help with a speedy return to exercise after the delivery. Plus you can boast to your new daughter about that time you were a ballerina. Check out Kx, Barre Body and Xtend Barre for a studio near you, or try this at-home glute workout from Barre Body.
With baby on board, you might be a bit more cautious about hitting the bitumen in your lycra. Spinning is not only incredible for cardio fitness, it’s no impact and you’ll enjoy the benefits of a climate-controlled space. Make sure you moderate your intensity and keep really well hydrated, and stay on the saddle as your shifting centre of gravity may make it hard to judge your balance. Talk to your doctor and instructor about any modifications that need to be made and, as always, listen to the signals your changing body is telling you.