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Exercising while pregnant

(32 Posts)
expectingwriter Tue 26-Feb-13 14:28:01

Hello all. About to enter week 8 and first (early) scan next week. Just wondered how long other mums-to-be waited before exercising? I'm a keen runner and used to do regular yoga until finding out I was pregnant (was training for a half marathon up until that point!) so I've been on a pause for the last two months. I'm getting itchy feet though, feel like I want to be active, - planning on going swimming, re-taking up yoga, gentle treadmill jogs/fast-walks....

Is 8 weeks still too early to go swimming/ yoga/ gentle run?
I keep reading on the NHS website that if you were active before your pregnancy that then it's okay to stay active, just being sensible - but I just don't know whether to still wait for 12 weeks? Anyone similarly into keeping fit with any thoughts?

I second CareerGirl's advice. I got SPD towards the end, and I'm fairly sure spending too much time rushing about triggered it.

Also you need to go into labour well rested and well fed. The ante natal class midwife explained to us all that if the body runs low on energy it slows labour right down to the point where hospitals have a tendency to whip you off for a emcs. Her advice was to REST in the last weeks, and insist on a break and some food before agreeing to intervention. Slightly off topic, but interesting.

ExhaustedMamasita Wed 27-Feb-13 16:49:33

Hi expectingwriter – I was in a similar’ish predicament, I used to exercise about 4 times a week – high impact cardio and toning exercises but after my BFP my body wasn’t having any of it! I’m now 12 weeks and have been exercising on average about 2-3 times a week for the last 6 weeks. Anymore and I’ll just knock out with exhaustion – tried and tested! Had a scan and hospital check-up earlier this week and my baby and I are in perfect health.

Sometimes I jog, sometimes I walk uphill – just depends on how I’m feeling that particular day. I used to feel bad if I couldn’t give it my all at the gym but I’ve stopped all feelings of guilt and just go with my body’s flow. My biggest advice to you is just LISTEN TO YOUR BODY and drink lots of water.

From what I’m starting to understand, nothing in pregnancy is prescriptive – so long as you don’t overdo it, everyone has their own boundaries and experience totally different symptoms. If you’re full of energy and well up for a run – go for it. If not, just go to the gym with a good magazine and just enjoy taking it easy. Remember some exercise is better than nothing – especially if you were a fitness fan like me before. Oh and defo tell your Yoga instructor that you're pregnant before the class starts – there will be some positions which may cause you serious nausea. I learnt the hard way!

CareerGirl01 Wed 27-Feb-13 15:55:22

Take it easy in the third trimester though - however fit you are.

SeriousStuff Wed 27-Feb-13 13:31:59

I'm 7+6 weeks and I've been doing the Tracy Anderson Pregnancy Project since I got my BFP (that is when I don't have nausea which is all the time at the moment!) but when I can't get my exercises done I take the dog for a walk.

If you're used to exercising anyway, you should be able to carry on but just reduce the intensity a bit.

HazleNutt Wed 27-Feb-13 10:55:24

Sure you should find exercise that's comfortable for you, pregnancy is not the time to challenge yourself when exercising. But I'm quite fit (also teaching some classes, including pump and combat), and if I followed the "don't get sweaty and don't let heart rate over 140" that you constantly hear, I would be restricted to slow walks or similar.

EuroShaggleton Wed 27-Feb-13 10:50:58

I'd also heard that the 140 heart rate limit advice had now been retracted.

Woodifer Wed 27-Feb-13 10:46:14

I read that the 140bpm was bobbins (or at least overly consevative) and you are better off using perceived effort.

This book documents a lot of the research on the subject
http://www.amazon.com/Exercising-Through-Pregnancy-James-Clapp/dp/1886039593

And has a focus on running and the benefits of weight bearing exercise. I think they recommend no more than 16 or 17/20 effort where 20 is a max (which is quite high really) - i'd refer to the book but i leant it to someone.

Another thing I've read a few times is that it is better to exercise a few times a week (i.e. 3 or more) than say once a week - so that the baby gets used to it rather than it being a "shock" to the baby.

dinkystinky Wed 27-Feb-13 10:38:33

Depends on how you respond to particular exercises HazleNutt - when pregnant, I can do a body combat class, burning 600 cals, and my temperature doesnt become too elevated. When running (both before and if pregnant) I find I go through a period of becoming incredibly hot and both temperature and heartbeat spike then go down - so I dont run in pregnancy. I do keep up with combat, pump, boxing (not combat) and pilates and yoga though in pregnancy.

HazleNutt Wed 27-Feb-13 10:20:11

About heart rate, the 140 limit was just a guess and many experts have since stopped recommending it. Including the guy who came up with it in the first place.

In 1985, Artal said, he and other doctors suggested guidelines to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists to have pregnant women keep their heart rate below 140 beats per minute during exercise.
Artal said that, in 1985, he and another doctor used intuition and calculation to determine the 140 beats rule. Six months later, when actual testing of women in a lab proved them wrong, Artal said he asked for the 140 beats notation to be stricken from the guidelines.
"For some reason, people caught onto that and they never let go," he said. "Each time I get asked about it, I said forget about it. I think it should be ignored."

sports.espn.go.com/espn/otl/news/story?id=4693739
onefitmom.ca/2011/02/12/pregnancy-myth-1-dont-let-your-heart-rate-get-above-140/

mrsmellow Wed 27-Feb-13 09:57:10

I'm 20 weeks and have kept up exercise throughout - although at a lower intensity. I am starting to feel the running in my hips - after the run though as someone said up thread and think will switch to walking and swimming now. I have also just moved continents and am finding the UK cold tough grin and also the price of pilates shock so have ordered a DVD off the internet - am hoping that I'll keep up the exercise without the instructor!

BobbiFleckmann Wed 27-Feb-13 09:52:01

keep exercising but use a heart rate monitor and keep your h/r below 140. If you can find someone good, I found a couple of personal training sessions with someone who was v knowledgeable about antenatal exercise were invaluable.

HazleNutt Wed 27-Feb-13 09:47:25

I've never taken a break and while I can feel that some high intensity classes are getting more difficult (like Bodycombat), I can always adjust and take it easier. I plan to keep doing the ones not involving so much jumping for as long as possible.

There is no evidence that exercise can actually raise the temperature to levels considered risky. One study found that for women exercising at moderate to high intensity for 20 minutes, temperature increased only by .5 degrees C to 37.3 degrees C in late pregnancy - that is not cinsidered risky by any sources.

Woodifer Wed 27-Feb-13 09:13:53

Hi! before DD1 I was a very keen runner (think 20+ mile fell races etc) - when pregnant with her I thought I would continue running - but at about 14 weeks I got really bad PGP/SPD (pelvic pain) after some downhill running in the lakes. I had decided to listen to my body but the annoying thing was the pain didn't come on during the run but after it. I think I may have got PGP anyway but it may have been much later/ less acute if I hadn't been running.

Fortunately for me I love cycling too and was able to continue cycling right through my pregnancy. Seriously, since having DD I am fitter than ever before - I think for endurance sports the adaptations that your body makes during pregnancy (for your increased size and blood volume) mean that after birth you have a stronger heart and more efficient lungs - if you continue even a modicum of training/activity during pregnancy.

Although the PGP was much better after birth - it wasn't for quite a few months that I was able to build up to running again. Again thank god for cycling - if I were JUST a runner I imagine I would have been extrememly frustrated. Running in particular is very impactful on the pelvuis - and I was able to do even quite strenuous hiking but still not do very gentle jogging.

Basically by all means continue exercising (especially if you were active already) but also don't dismiss the potential effects of pregnancy as "rubbish" out of hand - you may or may not be lucky how they affect you.

This time around pg with DC#2 I stopped running as soon as I found out. But have recently started body pump (bench elevated, and for me avaoiding lunges, adapted abdominal work - found a hand leaflet on line for pregnancy adaptations) and pilates. Also beginning to resurrect my swimming.

Christelle2207 Tue 26-Feb-13 22:53:28

First thing I did when I got BFP was go for a run. Three weeks later did a half marathon race. Never occurred to me to stop but I did feel very rough weeks 8-14 ish and barely went out. I'm now 17 weeks and finding it tough getting my fitness back tbh so my advice woul be not to stop at all!

I have heard of docs telling women at very high risk of mc to ease off on the exercise but for most of us its a big thumbs up. Someone I know ran till 38 weeks and is convinced the gave her a quick labour (4h ish).

bluer Tue 26-Feb-13 20:24:50

My doc and midwife said aerobics was fine. The woman who runs my class is great and had tailored some parts such as the abs section to suit...I do different things from the others. I also don't jump to avoid impact and try not to over do it!

There is something to be said for avoiding high impact exercise that involves a lot of twisting and jarring of your joints, as the hormone relaxin makes all joints and ligaments much looser, hence prone to injury. Similarly care should be taken to avoid over stretching. However, warming up and cooling down properly does reduce injury risk considerably, so you don't need to give up your favourite exercise, you just need to be a bit more body aware.

Running when heavily pregnant does put a massive strain on the pelvic floor, so do your exercises!

HavingALittleFaithBaby Tue 26-Feb-13 18:47:43

My understanding was you shouldn't start running during pregnancy because the body can't cope with the temperature fluctuations, however if you've been used to running you're fine to continue.

CelticPromise Tue 26-Feb-13 18:46:49

My doctor said it's fine to continue running and cycling. I have given up rugby though grin

Beatrixpotty Tue 26-Feb-13 18:43:04

I've been swimming 1.5k 2-3x week all the way through and did with my other 2 pregnancies.It's more like 1k now but I'm 37 weeks.Not sure I could have run for long though but know some ladies who have done 1/2 marathons as late as 28 weeks..

LivingThings Tue 26-Feb-13 18:20:01

why would the "impact of running" not be advised!!! whats it supposesd to do - dislodge the foetus!! complete crap!

Adreamz Tue 26-Feb-13 18:14:11

Swimming and yoga is fine. I was told that impact of running is not advisable during pregnancy likewise aerobic style sports. You should tell your instructor for yoga although it didn't effect what I could do until the 3rd trimester. Hope thats helpful xx

LivingThings Tue 26-Feb-13 17:16:34

Kopparbergkate hey I did GSR at 16 weeks with DD too!!

CareerGirl01 Tue 26-Feb-13 17:15:55

worseter I feel feel for you - not long now! Pelvic floors are v important!
I think if you've had a break you need to be careful about going back full throttle. I'm 30 weeks pg with DC1 and have been exercising 4/5 times a week - yoga spin running and weights for nearly 20 years. Have managed to keep up a regime of sorts but I didn't stop at the beginning of my pg. even so I've now had to stop running and go easy on things because my hips ache - second and subsequent pregnancies mean your body relaxes more - this is what midwife told me. I did get a Pre natal fitness trainer to give me a programme at 16 weeks

EuroShaggleton Tue 26-Feb-13 16:58:37

I'm still gymming away (5+6 now) - cardio + weights. I have cut out my weekly run, but that is because I have always had a tendancy to overheat when running. I am really missing it though and wondering if I could manage to stick to a couch-to-5k run/walk regime if I went out for a trot. I know plenty of people who ran throughout though.

I used to be a keen swimmer (proper distance stuff, not a few lengths of swan breaststroke!) and I am planning to take that up again as soon as the weather warms up a bit.

I've never heard of stopping exercise up to 12 weeks. In fact, i thought it was a good thing, to increase blood flow to the womb. The NHS only advises not taking up exercise during pregnancy, which you would sort of be doing after 12 weeks off!

BTW, I stumbled across this earlier this week (DM link): www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2283396/Nell-McAndrew-Ill-pump-iron-til-I-pop-The-model-defying-critics-exercising-pregnancy--doctors-say-shes-right.html

As a fanatical exerciser can I just say to you ladies PELVIC FLOORS. I didn't bother, much, and at 37 weeks was hit with killer SPD. Up to that point I was very active, to the point where I suspect I overstrained my hips. If you really commit to the old pelvic floor exercises you'll keep those muscles toned, and your pelvis will hold up better in later pregnancy. I hadn't realised it was important to do them for any reason other than preventing leakage!

I'll just hobble off with my walking stick now....

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