Coach Cat Walker is a personal trainer and fitness coach with a decade of experience. She answered some questions about working out during pregnancy. Cat went through her first pregnancy last year and had her beautiful baby girl in July.
What are the general recommendations for exercising when pregnant?
The current guideline for pregnant women is 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise every day.
This advice is for all women regardless of their previous fitness experience.
Women who wish to be active in their pregnancy without any prior experience of fitness are suited to start pregnancy yoga / Pilates classes, walking and low to moderate intensity exercises.
What about women who have lived an active lifestyle before pregnancy?
Women who have been working out regularly at gym doing any moderate to high intensity workouts prior to falling pregnant can continue to do so as long as it feels comfortable.
There’s no danger increasing your heart rate during a workout however it is advised to use caution and work well below maximum capacity.
The further along in the pregnancy should see a decline in exercises that place pressure on the pelvic floor and that create high intra-abdominal pressure.
Will high intensity workouts harm the baby?
The theory that the foetus will be lacking oxygen is outdated and unproved. Current literature shows that there is no change in blood flow and no change in oxygen saturation for the baby during moderate intensity exercise.
There are not any negative neonatal outcomes for babies born to women who exercise regularly and at a level of intensity. This is assuming that the mother is low risk and has been exercising for some time prior to conception.
Women are not advised to start a strenuous exercise routine after conceiving, nor it is advised to continue to exercise if any health concerns arise throughout pregnancy.
Are there benefits to exercising while pregnant?
Interestingly, one study compared the placentas of women who exercised regularly throughout their pregnancy vs women who did not and the placentas from the women who did exercise had a higher number of capillaries and veins.
There are so many benefits to exercising during pregnancy which include:
* Lower risk of gestational diabetes
* Lower maternal weight gain
* Short duration of labour
* Lower risk of Caesarean
* Improved strength in the pelvic floor region
* Better endurance
* Lower risk of instrumental vaginal delivery
* Lower risk of pre-natal depression
Regular exercise throughout pregnancy is beneficial both mentally and physically. Regardless of fitness history it is important to stay active and prepare for the biggest marathon of your life, labour!
Should pregnant women check in with a health professional regarding exercise during their pregnancy?
Studies have shown that 60% of physicians are unaware of the updated guidelines released by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in 2009.
However, every single person is different and therefore every single pregnancy is different. Please check with your midwife or health care professional before doing anything in your pregnancy, including exercise.
Exercise in Pregnancy: A Clinical Review: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4622376/
Effect of maternal exercises on biophysical fetal and maternal parameters: a transversal study:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5221369/
Does exercise training during pregnancy influence fetal cardiovascular responses to an exercise stimulus? Insights from a randomised, controlled trial: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19752154/