What exercises are safe now that you have a baby on board? Plus, find out what exercises are safe for each trimester.
WORDS JOANNA ONG
When you’re struggling to keep a meal down during the first trimester of pregnancy, exercising might be the last thing on your mind. But a growing body of research suggests that exercise has big benefits for both you and your baby. Even a simple walk around the block or a session of stretching may lead to a happier mood, better sleep, an easier labour and a quicker recovery. So, if you need some motivation to wriggle into your pregnancy attire, our experts have some words of wisdom.
It is important to bear in mind that when exercising, unnecessary stress shouldn’t be placed on your joints throughout all trimesters, mentions Donna O’Shea, a certified pre-post-natal PT and Pilates instructor and the owner of Donna O’Shea Fitness. She adds that during pregnancy your priorities in terms of fitness should be to keep active, improve core and pelvic floor strength and maintain a good posture. Here are some important exercises for each trimester.
Exercise should ideally start even before pregnancy, emphasises Dr Ivy Lim, a consultant at Changi Sports Medicine Centre & Singapore Sports Medicine Centre. The guidelines for exercise are the same as per healthy adults. Pregnant mums should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, preferably carried out throughout the week. You can start with less and increase the duration and regularity as you become more comfortable and your fitness increases.
According to the National Health Service in the UK, their guidelines recommend that if you were inactive before pregnancy, you should start with 15 minutes of continuous gentle exercise such as walking or swimming three times a week and gradually increase this to at least four 30-minutes sessions a week.
Some women experience severe tiredness or morning sickness
during their first trimesters and for this reason, wait until their second trimester before they increase their activity.
Ashleigh Mitchell, an osteopath specialising in pregnancy and paediatrics from City Osteopathy & Physiotherapy advises starting on pelvic floor or “Kegel” exercises during this trimester. Pelvic floor exercises are important to help minimise urinary incontinence that can happen during or after pregnancy. Some examples of pelvic floor exercises are clenching and releasing your anus and then doing the same with the vagina and urethra. These can be done with 10 quick clenches multiple times a day. When this gets easier, you can then clench and hold longer.
Mitchell also recommends stopping any gross abdominal contractions in the first trimester. Your abdominals are needed to support you; however, you don’t want them to be so tight that you end up with a case of diastasis recti (abdominal separation) which is very common in the second and third trimester. You can do subtle abdominal work such as pelvic tilts, or a prone stretch and tuck but no crunches or sit ups.