Pre and Post Natal Exercise*

Monday, 1 February 2016, By Keenan Mowat

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists state that "in the absence of either medical or obstetric complications, 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise a day on most, if not all, days of the week is recommended for pregnant women". There are many benefits of exercising during pregnancy. These benefits include maintaining a healthy weight gain, strengthens the pelvic floor muscles, improves mood and aids in the prevention of prenatal and postnatal depression, helps to prepare for labour and decreases the length of labour, decreases the incidence of back pain, may help to prevent preeclampsia, may help to prevent or treat Gestational Diabetes Mellitus, increases energy and promotes healthier sleeping patterns, relieves, or even prevents, constipation and, improves circulation. To be sure that exercise during pregnancy doesn't pose any safety concerns for you specifically, it is always best to first consult with your doctor and then seek out a pre and postnatal qualified personal trainer to tailor a suitable program for you.

It is impossible to provide an example or even suggest a possible exercise program for pre-natal women in this context due to the vast differences between individuals that need to be considered when constructing an appropriate plan that is not only effective, but more importantly, is safe. The two main differences that need to be considered include; the individual's previous training history, and what type and amount of exercise they were doing leading up to becoming pregnant, as well as, what stage of pregnancy they are currently in. When considering the first point, it is generally considered safe for an individual to continue weight training and cardio training after becoming pregnant, with some minor applicable adjustments as they progress through the different stages of pregnancy. When considering the second point, the three different stages of pregnancy, or trimesters, the individual needs to be aware of the implications for exercise at each of the different stages so as to remain safe and reduce risk of injury.  Some general considerations for prenatal exercise include:

  • Avoid jolting and bouncing exercises
  • Incorporate pelvic floor strengthening exercises (Kegel exercises should be central part of all prenatal and postnatal exercise programs)
  • Be aware of continence problems
  • Avoid exercises that involve straining
  • Be aware of weak lumbar stabilisation
  • And finally, it is recommended that exercise ceases after week 38 to avoid undesirable consequences.

After giving birth, the mother's body will be in recovery mode and she should again listen to her doctor regarding her return to exercise. Complete rest and recuperation for two weeks following delivery is essential, perhaps even longer if delivered via Caesarean section. Gentle walking after those first 2 weeks as well as gentle abdominal work should be fine for most individuals. Weight training can usually recommence 6 weeks post-partum, or 10-12 weeks if delivered via Caesarean section and is usually recommended that training stops if the individual experiences any unusual pain. Starting the exercise regime slowly and taking account of how the body adjusts is particularly important at these early stages.

To gain a better understanding and to learn how to safely achieve the benefits of pre and postnatal exercise, I highly recommend making an appointment with one of the qualified and highly motivated personal trainers at Vision Personal Training in Mona Vale. They will be able to help guide you with a custom built program that suits your specific, individual needs.

*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.

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