at Reform Physiotherapy and Pilates Malahide
Pregnancy is a unique time in a woman’s life where the body goes through so many changes that we can and cannot see. Lifestyle behaviours such as diet and exercise can really impact the health of the mother and her fetus. Exercise, which is associated with many different health benefits throughout life, has also been linked with fewer complications during pregnancy and after birth. Even if you were previously inactive, it is recommended that you exercise during pregnancy.
Guidelines recommend that you get 150 minutes of exercise a week, which can be broken down and spread out as you wish. The types of exercises you might be used to, including walking, swimming, pilates, strength training and mobility, may be harder to do in the current lockdown situation we are all in, especially if you were attending pregnancy classes or groups to help with your exercise. It is however, still important to try your best to fit some movement into your day where and when you can. Below are a few ideas that can help you do this:
Unless specified otherwise by your consultant or GP, it is perfectly safe for you to go out for a walk daily. At present there are no specific restrictions advised by the HSE for women who are currently pregnant and non symptomatic. Just be sure you’re taking all precautions necessary such as keeping your distance from others and staying close to home.
Walking is the most practical and cost effective form of exercise, you can dictate the pace and route that you take. Try keeping your breathing controlled and at a rate that you can still have a conversation.
If you previously ran prior to pregnancy, it is OK to keep that up at the beginning. During your second and third trimester you may find it becoming harder to control breathing and keep light on your feet. If you feel discomfort, consider swapping out the running for walking at a pace. Remember you should be able to talk while running and make sure you don’t feel like you’re overheating.
It is really important to keep your joints and muscles strong during pregnancy, especially around the hips, pelvis and lower back area. This may be harder to do now as the gyms are closed and classes may not be running. Check in with any classes you were doing previously and see if the instructors are carrying out classes via zoom or online or if they have any specific programmes you could do for the foreseeable future. Otherwise, try to incorporate some body weight strengthening exercises into your day a few days a week. This can include exercises such as squats, lunges, superman and step ups/ stair climbing. It is recommended that exercises such as bridge, and core exercises (lying on your back with your head down) can be performed until you start to feel uncomfortable in that position, normally around the 20 week mark.
Pelvic floor strengthening can be performed daily. Try and set aside a few minutes 3 times a day to do these and focus on getting a good contraction and full release of the muscles before you begin another rep.
Although it is important to keep strong, you also need to keep your joints moving through their range. Including daily stretching for your hips and through your spine can really help if you’re starting to feel tight through these areas.
Movements such as the cat stretch, book opener, child’s pose as well as hip flexor and hamstring stretches can help. Always make sure you’re moving through the stretch rather than holding it for any length of time. Use your breathing to help. Try breath out as you go into the stretch and breath in to come back out of it. Stretches shouldn’t be painful during or after performing them.
These are general guidelines aimed at uncomplicated pregnancies. If you have any concerns or any specific conditions that may affect your ability to exercise during pregnancy, contact your consultant or a women’s health physiotherapist who can advise a specific programme tailored towards your needs.
Roisin Carroll (MISCP),
Reform Physiotherapy and Pilates.