I want to share with you the biggest pregnancy exercise mistakes I have seen so you can avoid causing unwanted harm to you and baby. All too often pregnant women are feeling unsure about how to exercise safely in their pregnancy to optimise their health and keep their growing baby safe.
As a prenatal exercise expert with over 10 years of experience in helping pregnant women stay fit and healthy, I'm here to help you. It's my mission to help women stay fit and healthy during pregnancy.
Let's talk over five of the most common exercise mistakes pregnant women make and how you can avoid them. All women deserve to have this knowledge, especially during their pregnancy.
So let's get started on the pregnancy exercises mistakes you must avoid in order to keep both you AND baby safe!
This is quite common as many women do not know how to modify their workouts to adjust to their ever-changing and growing belly. The exercises you did when planning for pregnancy could now be dangerous for both you and your growing baby so please learn about the exercises you must now avoid.
It's easy to skip your pelvic floor exercises as you don't see these muscles. You will benefit later on from having a strong pelvic floor as it will reduce the symptoms of urinary incontinence. It will also help you after childbirth to get back to the type of exercise you love and will improve your sensation during sex.
Trust me, from personal experience, doing strength training throughout my pregnancy only made my recovery easier. Having a strong body will also help you during labour and will increase your rate of recovery during the vital postpartum period.
The first twelve weeks following your pregnancy is an especially important time as you let your body heal. The exercises you do during your pregnancy will also help make your body strong for a speedier postpartum recovery.
One of the biggest pregnancy exercise mistakes I hate to hear is that a pregnant mama is planing. Your stomach muscles need to be able to stretch to make space for your baby. They also must be strong enough to support your growing body.
During pregnancy, I want you to focus on exercises that will help to strengthen your deep core. And I want you to avoid crunches (V sit up) and planking as they will only cause greater strain and possible injury.
Now, let's get right into this topic. I'm a believer that everyone should have good core unit activation.
So many people suffer from back aches and poor movement quality, when, if they had a good strong, function core they may not be in so much discomfort.
It's actually so simple and basic that people overlook it and look for something harder.
The key is to start with the foundations, master them and then progress using the foundations to add challenge. This is exactly what we do in my PregActive exercise programs, and it's certainly what I recommend you do to help you now in your pregnancy, but also very importantly, in your postnatal recovery.
Okay, so you want to first think about your pelvic floor. Imagine a tube of toothpaste.
If you don't put the lid on the toothpaste tube and you squeeze the middle, the toothpaste comes out.
If you don't engage your pelvic floor first and you squeeze your abdominals there is a lot of pressure downwards and this is where weakness in the pelvic floor and even pelvic organ prolapse can be made worse.
This is why we say 'core unit' because there are team of muscles involved, not just one. Your pelvic floor and abdominals work together.
So gently lift and squeeze your pelvic floor (like you are peeing and then as you lift and squeeze you are stopping the flow) and then think about having a scarf wrapped around your torso and it's gently tightening as you engage your deep abdominal muscles.
Sometimes a visual is good for this, so see below the link to the free core unit activation video at the bottom of these show notes.
Okay, so if you want to be friends with your body during your pregnancy and in the weeks and months after you have your baby, then take out the high impact exercises that are putting a lot of pressure on your joints, pelvic floor and abdominals.
Exercises like crunches, planks, lifting heavy, boxing and jumping can all go out the door for now. You don't need them and most likely they will be doing more harm than good.
Your body is changing, it's making room for your growing baby, and as a result, things are shifting. Relaxin (the hormone that loosens everything to help prepare your body to birth your baby), is making your body a lot less stable than it used to be.
Plus, your risk of aches and pains is already increased, by slamming weights, jumping around and performing high impact movements, you are increasing your risk of injury even more.
There are so many exercises you can do in pregnancy, that can help to reduce aches and pains you are feeling, so focus on these specific prenatal exercises!
Prenatal specific workouts, prenatal yoga and pelvic floor focused routines (all of which are in our PregActive for Pregnancy program) are the types of exercises you want to help you.
Are you someone that holds your breath when you exercise?
You are certainly not alone in the world. It surprises me how many people can not comfortably breath when exercising.
Often people say 'I like yoga, but the breathing stresses me out'.
Honestly, I have to laugh at this, because breathing should be the foundation, with core unit activation coming next and then movement.
They move, then secondly think about their core so they 'suck in' and then freak out about their breathing.
Can you image how imbalanced this will make everything?
Starting with a few deep breaths is important to help calm your mind and body and get you ready and focused for what's ahead. During your exercise remember to keep coming back to your breathing. If you can't, then you might be over doing it with your exercise and it's advisable to drop back down a level.
A good guide for breathing is to have the ability to talk as you exercise. You don't have to actually talk, but the ability to do talk is important.
If you are huffing and puffing and can't get any words out, then you need to step it back a notch in the intensity of your workout.
This is important to remember: your body is with you 24 hours a day.
If you are choosing to do 30 minutes of exercise in your day, then the other 23.5 hours you still need to be mindful of how you move and hold your body in your daily activities.
So often I see people focus when doing exercise, but as soon as their session is finished, they drop back into poor posture; lifting, pulling, pushing or twisting in a way that's contributing to aches and pains.
Think about how you lift your bag off the floor, how you get out of bed, how you lower down to the bottom drawer.
Back ache and abdominal separation are common in pregnancy, and you can certainly do exercises to help, but you also need to be mindful of how you move your body throughout your day as well.
Rolling to your side or helping yourself up with your hands is so important, otherwise it's like you are doing a full sit up motion and can put unnecessary pressure through your abdominals.
Getting out of bed or a low couch is where most pregnant women do this 'sit-up' motion. Roll yourself to your side or if seating in a couch shuffle to the edge and use your arms to assist you to get up.
Start thinking about where you currently sit now is important also, because low chairs or couches aren't great in your pregnancy, and specifically not good when you have bub either.
A common pregnancy exercise mistake is to wait too long before you start a safe pregnancy workout plan. All I can say is, don't wait! I often get women at 5, 6 or 7 weeks pregnant asking when a good time to start prenatal exercises is. My answer is always NOW!
I also get women who say 'I wish I started earlier.'
Do yourself a favour and start preparing your body now. It takes a while for everything to start adapting, so the earlier the better.
In saying that, if you are in your third trimester, it's not too late. Any bit of help is good, so start now.
Plus, it's going to help you reduce aches and pains, keep your energy levels good throughout the rest of your pregnancy, go into birth feeling strong and recovery much quicker post-birth.
Depending on what you are doing now, you could compliment it with prenatal specific exercise, or completely swap out what you are doing for prenatal specific movements.
We want you feeling empowered, informed and confident in your exercise choices, because you deserve it!
From my planning for pregnancy plan, pregnancy workouts, Core Rehab for Mamas program to my Stronger Mama Challenge; I have a program to help you be a healthy, fit and strong mama for life!
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