You are pregnant? Congratulations! Suddenly, a lot of questions come to your mind on how to stay fit and healthy during your pregnancy.
Can I continue my activities? Should I start training even though I was sedentary before? Can training be dangerous for my fetus?
Here are some answers to your questions.
First, it is important to note that physical activity practiced reasonably and in a healthy environment is not harmful to the embryo or the fetus.
On the contrary, a physically active life can bring you multiple benefits, like:
- Increased strength and muscular endurance
- Increased aerobic capacity (which allows faster recovery)
- Increased flexibility and balance
- Reduced risk of hypertension caused by pregnancy
- Greater energy reserve
- Prevention of gestational diabetes
- Reduced feelings of depression, anxiety, and increased self-esteem
- Improved posture and reduced back pain related to pregnancy
The first step to take before starting an exercise program is to consult your doctor and ask them to fill in the X-APP for pregnant women. This form is a questionnaire issued by the Canadian Society for Exercise physiology to determine your ability to exercise.
Following the doctor’s approval, it is important to adjust your training parameters based on your physical condition. A competent professional will be able to provide you with more information.
Some recommendations for physical activity during pregnancy
If you are active, you can continue your activities early on in your pregnancy. Listen to your body! During the first month, it is possible to have nausea or be more tired. It is then important to change your workout in these conditions. However, if you wish to undertake physical activity and you were rather sedentary, it is recommended to wait for the second trimester of pregnancy before undertaking training. During the first month, if there are no complications, opt for walks or other comparable intensity activities.
Three principles are important to understand:
- Frequency of the training – recognized optimum frequency varies from 3 to 5 times by week. Regular training is preferable to obtain health benefits.
- Intensity of the training – several factors are important to check to determine. Generally speaking, you can train between 12 and 14 perception of effort on the Borg Scale (see Appendix 1.)
- Duration of the training – it is generally recommended to limit cardiovascular exercises between 15 and 30 minutes and between 20 and 30 minutes for fitness exercises.
It is generally not recommended to increase the amount of exercise during the first 14 weeks or after the 28th week.
It is important to remember that each case is to be analyzed individually. Despite the health benefits, physical activities during pregnancy can have some contraindications that can classified in two categories: absolute and relative.
- Rupture of membranes
- Preterm labor
- Fetal growth retardation
- Multitaps pregnancy (triplets or more)
- Placenta previa after 28th week (abnormal placental)
- Persistent bleeding during the second or 3rd quarters
- Previous spontaneous abortion
- Previous premature birth
- Mild to moderate cardiovascular or respiratory disorder
- Malnutrition or eating disorder
- Twin pregnancy after the 28th week
Moderate exercises during lactation do neither affect the quantity or the composition of the milk, nor the child growth.
Pelvic floor exercises, which begin shortly after childbirth, may reduce future risk of urinary incontinence.
Pregnant women should choose activities in which they have fewer chances to lose balance or cause trauma to the fetus.
Sports such as horseback riding, downhill skiing, hockey, gymnastics, outdoor bike are usually banned for pregnant women.
Appendix 1 :
7, 8 Very, very light
9, 10 Very light
11, 12 Fairly light
13, 14 Somewhat Hard
15, 16 Hard
17, 18 Very hard
19, 20 Very, Very hard