Pre & Post Natal
To all of our pre and post-natal clients…Congratulations on your pregnancy and/or recent birth! Please always remind your instructor about your current life stage, and be willing to accept offered modifications that might best serve you at this time of great change in your body
Pregnancy & Exercise
The following are special areas of concern and the appropriate modifications suggested by Pursue Movement Studio as related to pregnancy as recommended by the ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists).
First and foremost, we recommend all pregnant women consult their physician/OB prior to starting or participating in any exercise program. We do not recommend starting a brand new exercise program (or doing new exercises/movements that have never been done prior to pregnancy) as there is good evidence that suggests starting such activity for the first time while pregnant can be dangerous to both you and your baby.
No matter how fit you are, you should not be exercising if you have any of the following contraindications:
- pregnancy-induced hypertension
- preterm rupture of placenta membranes
- preterm labor during the current pregnancy or previous pregnancies
- incompetent cervix
- persistent bleeding during the second or third trimester
- intrauterine growth restriction
Warning Signs When Exercising During Pregnancy
If you experience any of the following symptoms, you should immediately discontinue exercising and receive medical attention:
- shortness of breath
- vaginal bleeding
- difficulty walking
- unusual absence of fetal movements (but note that the baby is often less active when the mother is exercising)
Main Concerns for women when exercising:
To prevent oxygen deficit to the baby, it is essential that any exercise program you participate in contain a thorough cool-down period comprising gentle exercise. It is also critical that all pregnant guests who exercise at high levels pay special attention to fetal movements in the hours immediately following a workout. Like us, babies stop moving when they are not getting enough oxygen.
We recommend pregnant women drink sufficient water throughout the day and especially when exercising. Because blood volume decreases during the early stages of pregnancy, pregnant women should drink 6 to 8 ounces of water for every 15 minutes they exercise. You should also not exercise when dehydrated; one way to tell if you are sufficiently hydrated is to check the color of your urine, which should be almost clear.
Pregnant guests should be encouraged to exercise at a level that feels comfortable, using rating of perceived exertion (RPE) as a guide. A general rule of thumb, listen to your body because YOU know what’s best for you and for your baby! Regardless of fitness level, pregnant guests should neverexercise to exhaustion.
Supine Position Caution
Many medical experts caution pregnant women to avoid lying on their backs after the first trimester. Lying in a supine position after the first trimester can put too much pressure on the inferior vena cava (the vein that returns blood to the heart from the torso and legs), owing to the weight of the enlarged uterus. Pregnant guests who experience nausea, dizziness or breathing difficulties when supine are most likely affected and should discontinue lying in this position, if at all.
Women who continue to do supine abdominal crunches after the first trimester should be aware of the potential for diastasis, a condition in which the rectus abdominis muscle separates at the linea alba. If women want to participate in “core” exercises, focus should be on the contraction of pelvic floor muscles (or kegels). Consider always keeping feet or one foot on the floor when performing abdominal work.
It is not recommended to begin resistance training if you were not doing it prior to pregnancy. Pregnant women who are resistance training need to breathe normally while performing exercises, because any act of breath holding can reduce oxygen delivery to the placenta. To keep the oxygen supply going to the baby, pregnant guests should avoid maximal lifts and heavy resistance.
Experts generally advise that all pregnant exercisers—regardless of fitness level—avoid stretching to maximal tension, because of relaxin’s effect on the body. Relaxin is a hormone released in the body during pregnancy that softens the connective tissue by increasing the water content in fibers, thereby making the ligaments and tendons more elastic. The purpose of relaxin is to provide increased movement in the pelvis to accommodate the growing baby and allow for an easier birth; it helps the abdominal muscles stretch during pregnancy and the pelvic floor muscles to soften and stretch during delivery. Basically you are ‘bendier’ and this can add tension and damage your joints if you overstretch them. Be careful not to push your stretches to the extreme. Hold the stretch to a comfortable level and allow the muscle to release slowly and gently. Also, if you choose to breastfeed your baby, relaxin stays in your body until you stop, so breastfeeding women need to also avoid stretching to maximal tension.
Blood volume increases dramatically during pregnancy; while vasodilation (the dilation of blood vessels, which decreases blood pressure) increases to accommodate this blood flow, blood pressure can be inconsistent during the first two trimesters. As a result, heart rate can be a poor indicator of exercise intensity during pregnancy. A good rule of thumb is to exercise shy of your edge; you want to still be able to carry on a conversation and not be out of breath. If your face is red, you are gasping for air, and are unable to carry on a conversation, you are going too hard. Physical activity during pregnancy is about MAINTENANCE and caring for the growing life inside of you, not about being at peak performance levels.
Benefits of Exercising while Pregnant
Although experts have not established an upper level of safe activity for pregnant women who exercise, the benefits of continuing to be active during pregnancy appear to outweigh any potential risks (unless you are directed by your health care provider to avoid physical activity). Unfortunately, no exact limits for frequency, duration and intensity are available. It is ultimately up to each woman—with the help and advice of her physician and fitness professionals—to decide the fitness path to take during pregnancy.
Considerations for Safe Return to Exercise Post Pregnancy
As for returning to exercise after delivery, this is up to each individual and her physician. If you were able to maintain your activity levels during pregnancy, you will find it far easier to return to normal levels of exercise compared to women who, for whatever reason, had to reduce or stop exercising altogether. Most health care professionals err on the side of caution and suggest no heavy physical activity (beyond general baby care, light housework, or walking) until your bleeding has stopped and you are no longer in pain (typically 6-8 weeks). For a woman who had any complications during childbirth; an episiotomy, difficult delivery, excessive blood loss, C-section, etc., it may be upwards of 8-12 weeks before you can return to heavier physical activity or any physical activity.
Listen closely to your body and please consult with your health care provider for the most accurate information, as it applies to you, before returning to your exercise program.
Exercise is good for you, but don’t overdo it for the first few months after giving birth. Your body needs time to heal, and you need time to adjust to your new role as a mother, and bond with your baby.
Congratulations on your pregnancy! Please let us know how we can support you and your baby during this exciting time in your life!