Pregnancy and Body Image
Our bodies are part of our identity and it’s usual for a lot of pregnant women I work with, to feel concerned about how their body will look after pregnancy.
Worries span everything from weight gain to stretched skin, saggy breasts and hair loss.
Many women want to feel confident and in control of their body image but pregnancy is a period when your body takes control, and grows and stretches as much as it needs to in order to keep baby safe.
We want to feel good about ourselves – and for most that includes feeling happy to be in our skin too.
What is safe and healthy when it comes to exercise during pregnancy?
It’s never too late to start looking after your body while expecting a baby.
Exercise in pregnancy is safe if it is done with care and reference to your own individual circumstances.
Although it may seem like it sometimes, pregnancy is not an ailment.
Some days your body may ache, your energy disappears and you wonder how you’ll make it through the next months.
The Benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy
I strongly believe in exercise during an uncomplicated pregnancy and have witnessed the benefits first hand. Ideally, exercise is part of your lifestyle before pregnancy, but if it’s not, it’s never too late to start.
Whether it’s continuing a modified version of an existing routine, or you’re a first-timer, the earlier you get started the better your body will be prepared for the coming months ahead.
Exercise during pregnancy can help with the following:
- Overcoming fatigue
- Reduce constipation
- Improve posture
- Reduce fluid retention
- Improve sleep
- Balance emotional changes
- Weight management
- Increase body awareness
- Speed-up post-partum recovery
- Reduce back pain
- Control glucose levels
Exercise is the answer.
Assuming your pregnancy is progressing without any complications, exercise, balanced nutrition and a mind/body connection are the three pillars to well-being during pregnancy.
I am not recommending starting a hard-core training routine and appropriate exercise depends on your current fitness and ability level
I recommend my clients strive for around 30 minutes of cardio on most days of the week, this could be as simple as fast walking; 30- 60 minutes a few times a week of strengthening exercises to build up what is weak; and daily stretching, within a range that is comfortable for you, to lengthen what is tight.
Resistance and light strength training is beneficial during pregnancy
If you have already been lifting weights prior pregnancy there is no need to stop, but exercise will need to be adapted
If you are new to gym work seek professional guidance to help you build a suitable program.
Appropriate exercise will help your body cope with the changes that lie ahead.
When should I start to exercise during pregnancy.. and when should I stop?
During the first trimester, your body will go through a lot of changes, both emotional and physical. Whether exercise is part of your lifestyle, or you’re starting a new routine, it may be the last thing you feel like doing. In actual fact, if your pregnancy is complication-free, this is the ideal time to tune in with your body, embrace an exercise routine that suits you and/or modify whenever needed; it will benefit you in the long run and make you feel better almost instantly.
After the first trimester, you may notice that your energy levels increase and you are generally feeling better. Although this may be the case, you must be cautious of overdoing it. During this phase the levels of relaxin (a hormone which softens your ligaments in preparation for birth) increase which can result in overstretching or exerting your ligaments and cause injury.
When it comes to how long into your pregnancy you can continue to exercise, there really is no rule. In theory, you can continue to exercise throughout the third trimester right up to your birth date. As your baby and body grown you may have to switch to gentler exercises such as swimming or water-based exercises, yoga, pilates or walking. However there is no reason why you cannot continue with gym based exercise too if you enjoy it, so long as appropriate adaptations are made.
It’s important that you tune into your body and find a routine that works for you and makes you feel good.
I have worked with expectant mums for many years and will devise a program that is suitable for your level and needs.