Pregnant women are traditionally advised to reduce levels of physical exertion as they are worried that there might be concerns that exercise could affect pregnancy outcomes negatively. However, exercise during pregnancy is not a bad thing, and could in fact be beneficial for the expecting mother. We had a chat with Tsvety Ivanova, personal trainer at UFIT Orchard for her advice on exercise for pregnant women.
What is the general perception of pre-natal training in Singapore?
T: More women are realising the benefits of pre-natal training and it is becoming more common for pregnant girls to look for a trainer to help them through their journey, however, Singapore still has a lot to catch up on compared to counties like the USA, UK and Australia where pre-natal training has become a norm.
What are some of the challenges in educating women to exercise during pregnancy?
T: Most of the challenges are people seeing training having negative effects for the expecting mother.
What can we do to motivate women so they would like to exercise during pregnancy?
T: Women should be made aware of the benefits. The testimonials from other post-natal clients should be seen as well as their success stories. Pre-natal training doesn’t just benefit women physically but mentally as well. Women should recognise the positive benefits for the body and mind if they exercise.
What are the exercises women can do during pregnancy?
T: It’s not a one-size-fits-all model. Everyone is different and just like with any other clients, it depends on their physical preparedness and their training history. Starting with the basis pelvic floor muscle exercises would be safe.
How long should pregnant women be exercising per session?
T: Depending on the training program, an example would be 10 minutes of warming up, 30 minutes of strength training, 15 minutes of cardiovascular exercise and 5 minutes of cooling down.
What are the core benefits of exercising during pregnancy?
T: Here are the 8 core benefits we can look at:
1. Boosts your energy and improves your mood
2. Helps you sleep better and fights fatigue
3. Lowers your risk of gestational diabetes
4. Reduces pregnancy discomfort
5. Prepares you for childbirth
6. Reduces stress and lowers blood pressure
7. Eases back and pelvic pain
8. Gets your body back faster after childbirth
Should pregnant women be avoiding certain exercises?
T: There are a number of exercises that should be avoided depending on how far in the pregnancy the women are. There are many core exercises that should be regressed or avoided to prevent abdominal separation but others should be added to help with it too.
Is it safe to do step classes in the first trimester?
T: Sure, for people who were doing step classes before, continuing with that is ok. I would not recommend for someone who has never done them to start now.
Are there conditions that make exercise during pregnancy unsafe?
T: That would be a question for the doctors but many pregnancy conditions are avoided by exercising, such as high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, back pain, etc.
For women who don’t exercise regularly, what would be a good starting point?
T: Starting with basic strength training would be best. Doing 30 minutes of low intensity cardio 3-4 times a week is great. Having a professional teach you pelvic floor exercises would be a must.
Do women have to stop exercising completely in the third trimester?
T: Most of the girls we work with exercise up to the day they deliver. It all depends on how you feel. Most of the women who train don’t want to stop and can’t wait to get back to it after the baby comes.
Will exercising affect breast milk production or supply level?
T: It should not, but dehydration would, so you need to make sure you drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise.
For women who are doing CrossFit, would it be an issue for them to continue doing it during pregnancy?
T: A lot of girls do, however you have to listen to your body. I would avoid anything too vigorous.
Lifting heavy weights during pregnancy?
T: Again, it all depends on the previous level of training. I would keep recommend weights that you can manage in the rep range between 10 to 15.
Can exercise help to relieve nausea during pregnancy?
T: Yes, it helps with hormonal balance and blood flow as well.
Is walking sufficient exercise during pregnancy?
T: I would not say so. That would not help with back pain and pelvic floor strength but would be better than nothing.
Can exercising during pregnancy cause miscarriage?
T: No studies have shown a direct link between exercise and miscarriage early in pregnancy. I would however not advise high-impact exercises.
Should women listen to their obstetrician and avoid core workouts at the 20-week mark?
T: Sit-ups, leg raises and similar exercises are not advised towards the end of the pregnancy, however core stability exercises would only benefit you and help you getting back into shape after delivery.
Are there any key things women should look out for and/or avoid?
T: Avoid working out in heat and stay hydrated. Avoid high impact exercises like jumping and skipping.
Lastly, what are the signs/symptoms that women should look out for to stop exercising?
T: Bleeding will be the most obvious one, however you should anything that is causing unusual pain. As the baby is growing there are all kinds of things changing in your body. Every week something new is getting pressed and stretched so if something hurts while exercising other than the muscles burning, stop doing it.
Tsvety will also be sharing with us information on post-natal training, so look out for the next blog on what you should consider when it comes to exercising after childbirth.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tsvety specialises in strength training, plyometrics and metabolic conditioning. She has a keen interest in improving mobility, functional training, and Olympic lifting. Tsvety can assist anyone who is looking to improve their strength, body composition and overall fitness level. She is known for her patience and encouragement towards clients new to strength training,
She graduated from Northwood University, Palm Beach USA, where she received a Sports Scholarship in Indoor Volleyball.