We all know staying active through pregnancy is important, but we are also told we need to rest and take it easy, so it's no wonder we get a little confused when navigating exercise during pregnancy. Having been through it myself not too long ago, these are my top tips for staying active and enjoying exercise during pregnancy:
1. Have a few options
Pregnancy is tough on your body, so not knowing how you are going to feel on any given day makes it hard to stick to a routine and plan your workouts in advance. Having various options to choose from was something I found really helpful. My options included @ourpilates, yoga, a strength routine and walking. This meant I was moving my body in some way most days, even if it was just a few squats or calf raises while I waited for the kettle to boil; something is better than nothing!
Drinking more water and taking electrolytes made such a difference for me! Changes to your blood pressure and heart rate during pregnancy mean you will need to drink even more water than usual - especially on the days you exercise. Fill up a big jug or water bottle, and make sure you drink regularly throughout the day. You'll be surprised how much can with help with your energy.
3. Modify your expectations
As soon as I let go of any expectations, I actually started to move more. Rather than thinking you *must* walk for an hour or you *must* go to a Pilates class, tell yourself you will go for a short 20-minute walk or do a 20-minute at-home online stretch class. The more adaptable you can be, the better, and as I mentioned earlier, some movement is better than none.
4. If you have pain, seek help
I think we expect pregnancy to be hard and uncomfortable, but there's actually a lot you can do if you're experiencing pain. Whether it's physio, chiro, osteo, myo or acupuncture, make time to go and see a specialist who can help you move freely throughout your pregnancy and help you enjoy exercising again.
5. Make time to rest
As important as it is to stay active, there may be days when you are much better off sleeping a little longer and letting your body rest. Throughout my pregnancy, there were many days that I needed to rest, and this is absolutely ok and very likely to happen as you progress through your pregnancy. Rather than feeling guilty for not doing much, just let it be and get back on track tomorrow.
6. Stick to things you've done before
Whatever you decide to do to move your body, it's best not to start anything new while pregnant. Your body is already trying to adapt to many changes without adding in a different form of exercise or activity. An exception to this rule would be Clinical Pilates - under the guidance of a physio; this is perfectly safe to start during your pregnancy.
7. Choose something you enjoy
If you can look forward to moving your body, you are so much more likely to actually do it. Exercise shouldn't feel like a chore, and this is truer than ever during pregnancy. This is a temporary and very special time in your life, and the focus should be on nurturing your body rather than pushing. It might take a while for you to adapt to the changes in your mind and body so just do whatever feels best to you and be ok with this also developing and changing throughout your pregnancy.