Some of you during pregnancy, particularly in the first trimester (first 13 weeks) feel nauseated, tired, way too friendly with the toilet, and are dealing with both pounding headaches and tender breasts. All perfectly normal, by the way!
Meanwhile, some of you wouldn’t even know that you were pregnant if it weren’t for the test results! It’s important to remember that every pregnancy is different, and expecting Mums experience a wide array of symptoms, both in terms of type and intensity.
However no matter your symptoms, one of the most difficult aspects of pregnancy tends to be feeling a bit “out of control”. As you body grows and changes on a daily basis, it can feel like you energy level, mood, cravings and body in general are at the whims of this little peanut growing inside you.
So while you strive to be your healthiest during this time, both for yourself and for your baby, don’t forget to give yourself the grace your deserve. After all, some days, your workout might not happen because you are nauseous or tired and can’t do anything but vomit or sleep. Or while you may desperately want to eat eggs because they are rich in choline and protein, the smell of cooked eggs might make your eyes water and your stomach flip upside down. And pregnancy cravings? They can feel totally uncontrollable.
Do not worry! You can make choices that best fit your body and growing baby.
The typical physiological changes that occur during the first trimester include:
Increased blood volume
Increased heart rate
Breasts feel fuller and heavier
Morning sickness (nausea and vomiting)
If you’re someone who experiences many of these symptoms either during the first trimester or throughout the whole pregnancy, your goal would be to simply to make it through while taking care of yourself and resting as much as possible. You may not feel like moving your body much, and if that’s the case, just do the best you can to exercise and move as much as you can. You may find that you can only get in one or two workouts in a week or even just a walk and that’s ok!
However, if you feel pretty good during your pregnancy, then you can exercise regularly.
Despite what you may have heard from well-meaning friends, and family members, exercise during pregnancy has many benefits! During pregnancy, you are training for one of the most physically demanding events of your life. You’d never try to run a marathon without any training, would you? So why not treat labour and delivery the same way? Exercise during pregnancy is very important!
Movement affects your body’s levels of hormones, neurochemicals, and endorphins to improve your mood and your psychological health, and may also help alleviate common pregnancy symptoms, provide opportunities for social engagement, improve your ability to recover from labour and delivery, attenuate excessive prenatal weight gain, and keep your body strong during pregnancy.
Maintaining good posture and alignment through exercise can help the baby sit in a position that allows for an easier labour and delivery experience. What’s more, physical activity during pregnancy can improve your ability to carry extra weight more comfortably.
During pregnancy, your body increases its production of a hormone called relaxin, which, as the name suggests, works to relax and soften the ligaments in the pelvis (as well as soften and widen the cervix). While this is very helpful in preparing your body for childbirth, it can lead to compensatory movement and overuse of certain muscles and muscle groups in some women, such as those in your lower back. Exercise, specifically, strength training, helps improve movement patterns and may reduce the risk of musculoskeletal injury during pregnancy.
Some women also find that exercise helps reduce or alleviate their nausea, fatigue, morning sickness, and headaches. However, this depends on how bad your symptoms are and should be evaluated on a case-by-case and day-by-day basis. Some women may find it helpful all of the time, while others may find it helpful some of the time. Still, others may find that it’s never helpful. However, you should never force yourself to exercise when you’re feeling awful.
When it comes to having a healthy pregnancy that sets you and your baby up for healthy days ahead, any exercise you do should encourage proper posture and alignment, increase strength and lean muscle mass, strengthen the core and balance the tone of the pelvic floor, develop a solid aerobic foundation, promote health levels of body fat, and yield health improvements without over-stressing the body.
Improve Posture and Alignment
Maintaining the posture and alignment is important for healthy living in general – helping to increase mobility, reduce everyday aches, and potentially minimise the risk of exercise injury – but it becomes doubly important when you’re growing a life inside you!
During pregnancy, maintaining good posture can help reduce the risk of lower back pain as well as muscle and joint problems that can accompany pregnancy. As your baby grows and your body changes, it may also help keep your baby in a desirable position, thus possibly affecting how labour and delivery play out.