This is probably the most waited for blog topic from our members since there currently about a dozen pregnant women at Innerdrive. That may be a slight exaggeration, but it is nice to have a very applicable topic to go over! When it comes to working out while pregnant there are countless possible things to talk about because everyone, and every pregnancy, is different. This means they can also all present individual challenges, but there are a couple possible difficulties that are more common. Which is why I wanna keep this first discussion focused informatively on those few things, and we can come back to other aspects of this broad topic some other time. Though there are problems that can arise there are also tons of benefits to staying active throughout a pregnancy.
When it comes to a pregnancy there are countless things to watch for like preeclampsia, but there are two that are a little more applicable to working out. These are diastasis recti and placental abruption. I know, technical terms, so we’ll start with the later which is when the placenta detaches from the wall of the uterus. This is a VERY bad thing because it can cause serious blood loss, but it is also highly rare. Just to take an extra precaution once the stomach starts to gain a little weight it’s a good idea to avoid any jarring movement downward, such as dropping off a box as opposed to stepping down. This makes sure we eliminate any excess pulling force downward.
To simplify the term diastasis recti, it is the separation of the large abdominal muscles in the middle of your stomach. This condition is actually pretty common in the United States, but that is because it can also occur in people that have abdominal obesity (this is more common among men). Because of the large expansion of the stomach during pregnancy the abdominal muscles are already stretched to their limit towards the end of pregnancy. With this it is important to take greater and greater care during movements that create flexion or tension through the core muscles. Things like sit ups, kipping, and hollow holds can create this. It is important to note that it is possible to develop this just due to size gain during a pregnancy, but it is also possible to keep this from happening simply by going off of feel. Most often you’re looking for a tugging sensation in your abs, and if you notice this just stop the movement that is causing it right away.
Now that we’ve talked about a couple potential issues that can arise during exercise while pregnant let’s talk about how beneficial it is! Maintaining your fitness keeps you healthy so that you can keep your growing baby healthy. Honestly that’s really what it all comes down to. All the usual benefits of exercise; increased mood and energy, better health markers, and stronger muscles, all transfer over to making the process of pregnancy easier. Even when it comes to things like abdominal separation we can use exercise to strengthen core muscles so that they can better support the stomach. Staying in shape and continuing your exercise routine through pregnancy also pays off all the way at the end during labor. Better fitness can help smooth the labor process by keeping the pelvis in a better position, and help you feel less exhausted at the end of the endeavor.
The biggest thing to be aware of while exercising during pregnancy is that your body will tell you what it wants to and doesn’t want to do. I’ve coached several women through pregnancies, and there’s never a set way to do it. Some were in the gym just days before going into labor and we’re comfortable being upside down into their third trimester. Others had very bad exhaustion and had to cut back exercise largely just a few months into development. So, don’t stress about trying to follow specific guidelines for when to restrain from certain things. You’re the mom and your body knows what it’s doing so listen to it and enjoy the process!