Exercising in pregnancy has so many benefits to shout about. From a reduction in the likelihood of pregnancy complications to a more straightforward birth and a smoother postpartum recovery what is not to love? But there is still a shadow of taboo, fear and confusion around exercise in pregnancy - here are some of the common myths I here and what the truth actually is…
- I haven’t exercised before so I shouldn’t start in pregnancy.
A big fat myth! Pregnancy is an incredible time to start moving your body and adopting a more active lifestyle this will benefit your family as your little one grows and see’s you exercising they will want to do the same. As with anything new you want to start gradually so don’t go from the sofa to a 5km run tomorrow but do some walk, run intervals or some body weight home circuits. The secret to exercising regularly is finding something you enjoy - so experiment with different forms of movement from swimming or strength training, to Zumba or even a stroll in a local park until you find your favourite.
- I need to monitor my HR in pregnancy.
No need for this! Your body is much smarter than even the most advanced tech heart rate monitors. Go by how you feel, pregnancy isn’t a time for pushing PBs so if something feels too much or a little uncomfortable just scale it back a notch. Everyday is different in pregnancy so what feels good one day may not the best and that is ok, listen to your body and respond to what it’s telling you. You can get your heart rate up in pregnancy so don’t be afraid of getting abit of a sweat on and boosting your cardiovascular health. Labour is, after all, the ultimate endurance event.
- I need to avoid any high impact exercise in pregnancy.
Another one of those lies! You can safely perform high impact exercise in pregnancy if it still feels comfortable for you. You won’t damage baby by running or jumping. It is important to make sure you are asymptomatic of any pelvic floor dysfunction during these movements though- any leaking, heaviness or dragging then it’s a sign to scale back the impact and have a pelvic health physiotherapist check up.
- If I have back or pelvic pain I should stop exercising.
Becoming more sedentary is definitely going to make back or pelvic pain worse so keep moving! You may need to adapt the movements your doing but strengthening your posterior chain muscles will help to reduce and manage symptoms
- Exercising in pregnancy causes miscarriage.
100% not evidence based, there is no evidence to suggest a link between exercising in pregnancy and miscarriage.
- I shouldn’t exercise my core in pregnancy.
Yep- another myth here! Sure you are not going to get a 6 pack in pregnancy so endless crunches are quite counterproductive, but strengthening your deep functional core muscles is going to really help your body meet the demands of pregnancy and support your postpartum recovery. Often women are scared about a Diastasis recti- the “gap” or “separation” of your abdominal muscles or lines alba in pregnancy. Rest assured this happens to everyone in pregnancy, you simply cannot grow another human in your stomach without a degree of Diastasis. A sign you may need to scale your core movements back is noticing a bulging down the midline of your abdomen, this is your body letting you know that particular movement is just putting a bit too much pressure through those muscles at that time.
- I can’t lift weights in pregnancy.
This must be my biggest bug bare of all. You, as an expectant mum, are about to undergo one of the most challenging events in your life. You need to be feeling your most physically and psychologically strong as you prepare. Not being told your fragile, weak and can’t lift anything. When your baby is here you will be essentially lifting an ever growing dumbbell whilst recovering from birth and not mention lugging around a pram, car seat, squatting down to change nappies and pick up toys etc etc. preparing for this in pregnancy just makes sense. Strength training in pregnancy will also help reduce the likelihood of back and pelvic pain too. It is a good idea to follow a periodised programme in pregnancy and to work with a specialist to make sure you are protecting your body and adapting movements appropriately.
As you can tell I am a massive advocate of movement in pregnancy and believe passionately that women should and can be pregnant and powerful! I remember looking on the internet for pregnancy exercise images and all I could see was yoga or being sat on an exercise ball but you can do so much more than that and your Jodi and baby will thank you for it too!
To check out all of Pips expert online Pregnancy, Antenatal and Hypnobirthing, Breastfeeding or Pregnancy and Postpartum Exercise Courses head over to www.midwifepip.com and use code LATCHED15 for 15% off all her courses.
About the Author:
Pip is an experienced, practicing Midwifery Sister, MSc graduate, founder of Midwife Pip Podcast, Hypnobirth and Antenatal Educator, co- author of published research and importantly a mum.
Pip is on a mission to ensure all expectant and new mums feel like superwoman during pregnancy and when they give birth. Pip believes passionately that with the right support, honest and evidence-based information all birth should be positive regardless of any twists and turns that may crop up. For this reason, Pip begun her Instagram page @midwife_pip followed by her online courses where she is on hand to support and guide women through all aspects of pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum every step of the way.
Frustrated by seeing families poorly equipped with conflicting, inaccurate, or unrealistic advice and information Pip decided this was not good enough. Pip is proud of how her Your Pregnancy Journey Course has momentously improved women’s pregnancy experiences as well as running her other online courses to ensure women and families are prepared with the very best information for their birth and start to parenthood. Friendly, non-judgemental advice and all with the benefit of exclusive community support groups.
Pip is here to create empowered, positive experiences for all! www.midwifepip.com