Fiona Laidlaw Talks Busting Myths on Exercise During Pregnancy
The Truth Behind Training While Pregnant from a Personal Trainer
Most women understand that exercising while pregnant is safe; however, with so much conflicting information, it can be confusing as to what type of exercise and how much of it can be done safely. So today, we’re busting some common myths to help women fully understand what exercise you should and should not do during pregnancy.
MYTH: “I did not exercise before pregnancy, so I can’t start now.”
TRUTH: Low to moderate intensity exercise is hugely beneficial during pregnancy. It can assist in a more stress free pregnancy, healthier baby and a quicker recovery for the mother post pregnancy. The real hazard is inactivity. This can cause excessive weight gain, increased blood pressure, muscle and joint pain and the risk of diabetes, all of which put the mother and baby at risk.
MYTH: “Strength training should be avoided during pregnancy.”
TRUTH: Wrong! This myth came about due to the pregnancy hormone relaxin, which loosens ligaments to prepare the body for labor. Relaxin will not stop you from doing light strength training and body weight training, however due to the changes in the body it is advised to train under the supervision of a fitness professional which will ensure proper technique and intensity during the training session. The thing to be cautious about with the changes in the ligaments from relaxin is to not over stretch. Foam rolling instead is a great way to help loosen the muscles, achieve balance and warm up.
Free-weight and body-weight training is a great way to prepare your body for labor as it helps keep the body strong throughout the duration of the pregnancy which can lead to a stronger recovery post-birth.
MYTH: “Ab exercises should be avoided during pregnancy”
TRUTH: It is advised that your traditional ab exercises — crunches and weighted ab movements — should be avoided after your first trimester. However, by strengthening the inner core (transverse abdominis), you will train your body to be stronger for the duration of your pregnancy. Many women experience back pain due to the uneven distribution of weight on the body. The inner core helps protect the spine, and therefore, the stronger it is, the more it is able to assist your body in carrying the extra weight. For inner core exercises in your second and third trimesters, it is advised to do standing exercises such as pulling your belly button to the spine and holding. In the later months of your pregnancy, it’s important not to spend too much time lying on your back due to the weight of your uterus compressing your vena cava (vein carrying blood to the heart). Therefore, standing exercises are great for building both strength and stamina.
MYTH: “I should keep my exercise at low intensity and my heart rate under 140 beats per minute”
TRUTH: While it is important to not go beating any records, unless your doctor recommends sticking to low intensity training, the best way to prepare for the final months (hardest months) of your pregnancy is to maintain your fitness. There are some restrictions to exercising while pregnant such as avoiding contact sports like football and basketball, sports that have a high risk of falling such as skiing and horse riding, and lifting extreme amounts of weight. To ensure you keep within these restrictions, it is best to have a fitness professional train you.
Your heart rate will naturally be increased throughout your pregnancy, so a good way to gauge the intensity of your training is by doing the ‘talk test.’ For low to moderate exercise, you should be able to carry out a conversation while training.
So there you have it. Exercise is a great way to prepare your body for pregnancy and a smoother recovery post birth. The best way to ensure you are training safely for both yourself and your baby is to consult a doctor first, and exercise under the supervision of a trained fitness professional.
Fiona is one of five highly professional personal trainers including one nutritionist at Bee Cave Fitness. BCF is a 24-hour gym and personal training studio located in the Bee Cave and Lakeway area just outside of Austin, Texas. BCF specializes in group training, personal training and nutritional programs including the MOMMY MAKE-OVER, a post birth training and nutritional program. For more information, visit:
Austin Expecting is Austin’s most exhaustive prenatal, birth and postpartum resource directory. Find all your pregnancy care and service providers in our comprehensive directory. Stay up to date with all the goings on for expectant moms with our events calendar. Connect with Austin moms and providers by following our blog. The advice and opinions on this website are for informational purposes only. Do not use this information against the advice of your medical practitioner. Always consult your doctor or practitioner for any health-related issues you may be experiencing.