Pregnancy is a marathon event. It is something our bodies are designed for, but the effect it has on our bodies can be vastly underestimated! It changes our pelvis, ribcage, lung capacity, hormones and ligaments which in turn impact our shape, size, balance – and more! You wouldn’t try to run a marathon without training (and certainly not without sustaining some injuries along the way), so why expect your body to be able to handle pregnancy without giving it some help?
Strength & fitness work during pregnancy can help to prepare your body for the later stages of carrying your baby, childbirth itself and postnatal recovery. Moreover, the dedicated time in class you spend focusing on yourself will help you connect with your mind, body, growing baby – and other mums to be if you’re in a group environment.
Strength & Stability
In pregnancy, building strength can help to stabilise your body before imbalance sets in due to your growing bump and boobs. This can help to prevent common pregnancy complaints such as back pain and PGP by strengthening and stabilising through the inner thighs, buttocks and core to protect the back and pelvic areas as ligaments start to loosen and our bodies are pulled in different directions!
Being strong through our backs will also help with our posture to counterbalance our changing shape – preventing rounded shoulders as we’re pulled forward by new weight across our chest and abdominal area, or a hollowed lower back from our bump pulling us forward – often causing backache.
Moreover, the strength and stamina developed or maintained in pregnancy can help us to achieve an active labour. Being able to walk around between contractions, stay on your feet, use squats etc and let gravity take effect can all help to speed labour up and minimise interventions.
Balancing Out Imbalances
Pregnancy also changes our centre of gravity as our bump grows and throws us off balance. Movements that we have taken for granted for so long such as getting up and down from the floor can now feel strange, and place undue pressure on our hips and pelvis if done incorrectly.
Pregnancy specific exercise teaches us how to move in a safe and healthy way, as well as helping to find new balance in our bodies. It builds awareness of our new shape, and improves our neurological connection with muscle for more effective & efficient movements, not to mention creating mobility in our joints, and building our body for the athleticism which parenthood requires! Even when they’re no longer in utero, carrying a baby – whether in our arms, a sling or in a pram – can be hard work!
The Power of Movement
Even though it might be the last thing you feel like if suffering from morning sickness, movement can actually help to combat feelings of nausea. Yoga-based exercise can also teach us how to harness the power of breath – to calm our minds, better activate our muscles and energise – which of course can be carried through to childbirth to help manage contraction pain. Not only that but the endorphins created through exercise also help to boost our mood and balance out hormonal changes for a smoother ride throughout pregnancy!
Don’t Ignore the Pelvic Floor!
Encouraging pelvic floor engagement in pregnancy is vital to help support your baby’s weight and protect against incontinence postnatally. The right pelvic floor exercises will also teach you how to relax your pelvic floor. Being able to ‘let go’ as well as tighten is a key aspect of giving birth vaginally!
Being in tune with our bodies through exercise during pregnancy can help to protect it from some of the most common pregnancy induced problems and injuries. It can also play a major part in a smooth childbirth experience, and in our subsequent postnatal recovery; enabling us to harness our muscle memory, especially where the pelvic floor is concerned.
If you are newly pregnant and also new to exercise then it’s a good idea to wait until you are 14 weeks into your pregnancy when the placenta is fully attached before you start exercising. If you have been exercising prior to pregnancy then it’s still a good idea to avoid anything new in those first 14 weeks. Even the most avid exercisers are best advised to do things a little more gently during the first trimester and a period of such enormous physical changes! And do make sure you find pregnancy-specific classes, or an instructor who is trained in pre and postnatal training to make sure you are doing the right things for your body.
If you’d like to find out more about our range of pregnancy specific fitness classes, head to https://busylizzy.co.uk/pregnancy-fitness-classes/