We caught up with women's health and fitness expert, Kerryn Boyle, to find out some common mistakes when exercising in pregnancy. Kerryn runs pre and postnatal exercises classes in Melbourne through her business, PregActive, and also offers an online program featuring home-based pregnancy and postnatal workouts (we've added a special code for you at the end of this article if you're interested in joining).
Kerryn is expecting a little boy in January.
Kerryn says: As someone who has been helping pregnant women stay healthy and active for over a decade now, I’ve seen a lot of women make poor choices when it comes to their exercise in pregnancy.
It’s such a special time and so important to look after you and your growing baby, but also to think about how your decisions now are going to impact on the speed and quality of your postnatal recovery. Let’s dive on in to the five most common mistakes in pregnancy exercise:
1. Incorrect Core Activation
Practicing core activation is important, not just for pregnant women, but for everyone. The earlier you start it, the better. How to do it? First you want to think about your pelvic floor gently lifting and then think about a gentle wrap of your tummy muscles. The key is to think about a scarf wrapping around your torso, rather than ‘suck in’ sensation that often people do.
2. Poor Choice of Exercise
Jumping, lifting heavy weights, boxing, crunches, planks; these are all exercises that can put a lot of pressure on the body. In pregnancy, there’s a hormone called Relaxin that loosens all the ligaments and tendons that usually help to keep everything stable. You are more prone to injuring yourself with these intense, high-impact type exercises in pregnancy than you are if you’re not pregnant. The other thing to be mindful of is your pelvic floor and the pressure this extra abdominal pressure is putting down onto your pelvic floor in addition to the extra weight of your baby bouncing around. There are so many exercises you can do in pregnancy, it’s better to swap over to something that will assist your body through your pregnancy, rather than challenge and potentially injure your body.
3. Bad Breathing Techniques
Breathe, I say, breathe! You’d be surprised at how many people hold their breath, or do shallow breaths when exercising. In pregnancy, there’s less room for your lungs to expand as your baby grows, so it becomes even more important to focus on getting oxygen into your body! Starting any exercise routine with a few deep breaths can help to relax you from your day and remind your body to breath throughout the exercise. Always stop if you feel out of breath, and as a guide, you should be able to talk through the exercise you are doing. If you can’t talk, you are probably pushing too hard and it’s advisable to drop back a level.
4. Forgetting About Functional Movement
Often people do an exercise session with good technique, and then spend the rest of their day in poor posture and not thinking about how they are positioning their body. The idea of any exercise in pregnancy is to help you reduce your aches and pains and feel more energised, stretched and strengthened. Be mindful of how you get out of the car, lift up your bag and sit as you eat your dinner. All of these add up and can impact aches and pains in your pregnancy.
5. Waiting to Start
Don’t wait to start pregnancy specific exercise. Even starting before you get pregnant is helpful. You are preparing your body for change and ensuring that the way you move and engage your muscles is going to help optimise your fitness in your pregnancy and your postnatal recovery. It’s never too early to start! It's also important to remember that's it's not too late either. If you are in your third trimester, incorporating some pregnancy specific exercises like we have in our PregActive programs, will help you ideally feel better for the remainder of your pregnancy, feel strong in your birth and recover better post-pregnancy.
For more information on each of these topics, check out the 5 Common Pregnancy Mistakes article and PregActive Podcast click here.
PregActive's online exercise program cover topics relating to health, mind and fitness during and post-pregnancy. Kerryn has given us 15% off her PregActive Pass with code 'Bloomberri' at checkout.