Never in your life before is it more important to keep fit and healthy than whist you’re pregnant. It is obviously very much geared towards the development and health of the un-born baby, but it should also be because it is so important for you physically and mentally too! Our Hip & Healthy Guide to Pregnancy takes both factors into account.
The whole pregnancy process, from conception to birth, (not even thinking about the new demands and changes that take place after birth), takes an incredible amount of work by your body 24hrs a day for roughly 40 weeks. (That is only 12 weeks short of a whole year!). This understandably takes it’s toll on you during the pregnancy and has profound repercussions often for many years after.
Regular exercise and eating a balanced healthy diet will help the development of your baby and equip your body to do it’s job as best it can. it will help you to feel physically and mentally stronger and hopefully enjoy the pregnancy as much as possible!
Here are my top tips in keeping healthy during this amazing journey;
- Keep your body strong
Ok, so you may not be able to take part in Crossfit or HIIT classes anymore; but you can and should keep your strength training going. Whether that is through a traditional weights training program, Pilates (reformer, equipment or mat), regular Yoga, swimming etc. Any exercise where you are strengthening the muscles will really help you as the pregnancy advances. Do not forget, you will become significantly heavier and therefore your muscles need to be able to carry this extra weight in order to keep you mobile and active for longer.
Pre-natal exercise classes or a Pre/Post-natal Personal Trainer are a great idea as they understand the contraindications of exercising whilst pregnant and will keep you and your baby safe. However if this is not possible, there are some YouTube videos you can follow. If you want to carry on working out yourself (for example in the gym or at home), do some research online or seek advice from a certified Pre/Post-natal Trainer and devise a routine to follow. It is important you know how to exercise in a safe and sensible manner.
- Snacking heaven
Because of the increased demand on your body, it is essential to keep your energy topped up. You may not be able to eat as much at one go, but you will probably feel hungry more often. Keep stashes of healthy snacks in your handbag, office draw, by your bed. (yes, eating in the middle of the night is common and sometimes necessary!) Fruit, nuts, raw vegetables, rice crackers, hummus are all easy to transport and full of nutrients your body needs.
- Eat from every food group
It is very important you do not eliminate any food group. Ditch the no carb or no fat diets as soon as you find out you’re pregnant. Carbohydrates, Protein, Fat, Fibre, Vitamins and Minerals are all needed to develop the baby and nourish your body. Even if there are some specific foods you still need or want to avoid that’s fine. There are many foods which cover these food groups so just make sure you are eating a variety of foods which are nutrient dense.
- Relax and unwind
In our busy lives, rest and relaxation is already underrated, but during pregnancy your body will simply stop if you have done too much. When this happens, you feel horrible and run the risk of being sick, so it is best to avoid burning yourself out. Tune into your body and listen. Sometimes even taking a break and putting your feet up (literally) for 15 minutes can do the trick.
Try to head to bed a bit earlier than usual so you can let your body and mind relax. Remember that even when you are resting, your body is working hard to look after and the develop the baby.
- Exercise pelvic floor (kegel exercises)
So this is where if you have been going to Pilates regularly you will have a slight advantage. However, do not fret. Even if you are not keen on Pilates you can do kegel exercises on the train, in the bath, at your desk – anywhere! The amount of weight and pressure which is gradually piled onto the pelvic floor is immense. Remember the pelvic floor not only controls you bladder, but it helps to support your internal organs and posture. If you do not know what kegels are, look them up and try to practice a few times everyday.
Words by Rebecca Dalby (www.rebeccadalby.co.uk), Pilates and Fitness Trainer