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Exercise in first trimester - conflicting advice

(17 Posts)
birchwoods Tue 02-Dec-14 12:13:09

I'm only 4+1 and am wondering whether it's safe to carry on exercising as usual.

I know the NHS website encourages you to exercise throughout pregnancy but it doesn't go in to detail about what kind of exercise is ok/not ok.

I go to Metafit once a week which is bloody hard work and leaves me utterly knackered - is this still ok when it's so hard? Should I modify some exercises (like the ones where you're on your tummy on the floor?) even at this early stage in my pregnancy?

I also run with a club and on my own, between once and three times per week (sometimes not at all), at distances of between 3 and 5 miles, and I do online pilates/HIIT/strength workouts a few times a week.

I'm just a bit confused as advice seems to be conflicting. Some sources say carry on as long as you feel able to with whatever you were previously doing (ie. don't take up any new types of exercises that your body isn't already accustomed to), some say tone it down a bit and do gentler exercise, some say fine to do ab work, some say not!

I'd really like to carry on doing ab work to strengthen my tummy before it gets obliterated but not if it is going to be harmful in any way!

Am I being overly cautious seeing as I'm so early on (probably)?!

Rumplestrumpet Tue 02-Dec-14 12:50:25

Hi there. I think it's natural to be cautious at this stage. I'm not a medical professional but I spoke to my midwife about exercise. I don't have anything like your kind of fitness regime - just cycling to/from work and yoga once a week. My midwife encouraged me to carry on as before BUT with two caveats:
- firstly, be more careful with cycling, as a fall would be dangerous. So that means taking no risks, stopping at amber lights rather than trying to squeeze through, etc. I guess this would also translate as watch your footing perhaps when running?
- secondly, she was very clear that I need to listen to my body and not overdo it. When I start to feel too tired, take a break. I'm only 8 weeks into pregnancy myself, but this has meant slowing down a little on the bike (ie I'm just a bit more tired halfway through the commute, and so slow down rather than keep pushing through), and stop some of the positions earlier during yoga (ie when I feel my arms giving in).

So if I were you I'd probably keep up with the running and pilates, and continue with the workout but not push myself too hard. And definitely speak to your midwife about it as soon as you see her.

Congrats on the pregnancy and good luck!

squizita Tue 02-Dec-14 12:57:31

Just no contact sports and don't go harder than usual. Honestly that's safe.
Bear in mind your muscles soften a bit so there is a slight risk of pulled muscles.
Baby will be fine provided you're not skydiving or wrestling.

Long story but I know a lot about pregnancy safety for various reasons (all good) and used to be a worry wort. I found Leslie Regans pregnancy book a no nonsense comfortING guide.

HazleNutt Tue 02-Dec-14 13:15:51

conflicting advice - yes, better get used to it grin. It will be same about any baby related topic - so what you can do is to try to find the research behind the specific claim and then decide what to believe.

I don't see any issues laying on your stomach this early, the baby is still behind the pubic bone, so can't be squashed. You will find many claims that ab exercises during pregnancy cause diastasis recti, but I have not found any studies confirming this, so no idea what this is based on.

Similarly, you will read almost anywhere, that you should not let your heart rate go over 140. This was based on a guess, recommendation and the author of this recommendation has since said that it is not correct and should be scrapped. But people keep repeating it.

You will also read from several sources that you must not get hot and sweaty, because raise in core temperature would affect the fetus. Well - it's not exercise for me, if I don't get sweaty. Also, "Data regarding the effects of exercise on core temperature during pregnancy are limited. There have been no reports that hyperthermia associated with exercise is teratogenic." see here for sources:

So in short, yes you will get conflicting advice. Choose the advice you feel comfortable with.

rubyboo2 Tue 02-Dec-14 13:34:07

Your supposed to be able what ever you did before you were preggers and not try anything new . If in doubt speak to your coach . Ive been swimming 14 hrs all the way through and I am 30 wks now just started getting tired . Enjoy it before you get shattered . smile

UpNorth74 Tue 02-Dec-14 17:20:47

With you all on this one! I've read so many different points of view on exercising. Most seem to recommend 'gentle' exercise ... but as mentioned above, that isn't really exercise for some!

I'm a runner too, and run competitively, and at the moment its business as usual as much as I can (though I did cut a few sessions short with a little abdomen pain ... turned out to be nothing serious and probably me being hyper sensitive to things in my body changing!). A little torn with telling my coach - as it doesn't seem 'right' him knowing before my family!

Also hoping I don't get noticably slow before I'm able to share my news! (I'm only 6 weeks).

Yoga should be fine also - I've had the same thoughts the past few weeks. I'm not great at it to start with, but I've just been practicing within my limits - listening to my body and not over stretching.

As already said - everyone is different, and the only person who really knows is you! I'd say as long as you're not in pain go for it. Advice is always cautious, and if you're body is used to strain and sweat, then that is probably what it needs to cope with early pregnancy and beyond!

As a yogi once said ... Find What Feels Good!

birchwoods Wed 03-Dec-14 15:26:20

Thanks everyone, all very good advice. I think I will carry on as normal but not push myself to the limit as much. I don't need much of an excuse to not exercise!! (I think I have painted myself as rather more dedicated than I actually am, I can be quite lazy!).

Exactly UpNorth, gentle exercise is almost pointless exercise for me!

Would you tell your instructor (ie. metafit) that you're pregnant this early on, even before you've told parents?

I've been meaning to take up yoga for a while so maybe I will find a class. How far along do you have to be to attend ante-natal yoga without feeling like a fraud?!

I've got running club tonight, first time in a few weeks and I'm actually nervous! I did a 5 mil run on my own on Sunday and strained my hip so hoping I will be ok tonight!

HazleNutt Wed 03-Dec-14 15:31:43

Yes, tell your instructor. I'm a fitness instructor as well, and I want to know, so I can keep an eye on you and also that I would understand why you're suddenly taking easier options or need more breaks. I'm just 8 weeks myself and have not told parents, but have already told people in my classes, so they would not wonder why I have put my weights down a little or am looking a bit greenish sometimes. grin

UpNorth74 Wed 03-Dec-14 15:33:36

The yoga class I go to also has a pregnancy yoga class, and on her website she recommends 14 weeks onwards. A teeny bump is still a bump, so you won't feel like a fraud! Beginners yoga is pretty gentle - I'm hoping to carry on with that class for a while as well as bump-yoga.

Is metafit quite intense? If so, I'd be tempted to have a quiet word with the instructor. I used to do body pump and spin classes a lot, and the instructor would always ask if anyone was injured or pregnant.

I was feeling a little tender last night, but went along to my club and feigned injury - said I'd been suffering from cramping muscles (which isn't far from the truth!) and wanted to just stretch out. Felt amazingly better after a gentle 6 miles and a catch up (so hard not to tell people though - I just end up asking them a lot of questions so nothing is on me!)

birchwoods Wed 03-Dec-14 15:58:11

Hazle - even though I'm only 4 weeks? I may tell her before the class on Monday (by which point I will be 5 wks). It feels odd to tell a relative stranger before my family even know but I see the logic.

UpNorth - yes Metafit is pretty intense, it's a HIIT workout where you do lots of quite intense strength and cardio exercises (lots of jumping ones like burpees) with very little rest in between so the whole workout only lasts about 25 minutes but you are sweating by the end of it. I did take it easier this week as I felt a bit light-headed (which isn't unusual for me, pregnant or not) so I think I will continue that way.

Thanks for the advice. I will look for a yoga class perhaps to replace running club when I don't feel able to do that. I'd still like to run on my own but at running club you have to keep up with everyone else so more pressure to push yourself. I could always go in a slower group though I suppose.

Thanks again for your advice!

HazleNutt Wed 03-Dec-14 16:21:36

Yes, tell her - getting more tired and light-headed in early pregnancy is common, and I would always be concerned if I saw someone suddenly taking extra breaks or slowing down, if I didn't know the reason. I have a couple of other pregnant women in my Bodypump at the moment, and it's also good that I know to keep an eye on them, in case they need extra assistance.

Clarabell33 Wed 03-Dec-14 16:30:42

Hi OP, I do Metafit too and told my instructor at about 9wks (just after parents) because by then I was having to take breaks/easier options due to nausea. Have to say, exercise did help slightly with my nausea (possibly just as a distraction) so it was an incentive to keep going! If not for the nausea, I wouldn't have felt I needed to tell her for a few more weeks as I was otherwise able to keep up at my normal level. Just depends how you feel.

I'm now 22wks and still doing Metafit but on much easier/slower options, which is a bit depressing but I'm only doing what I can manage, can't push myself like I used to sad My instructor has been great - she has kept an eye on me, suggested options for some moves I can't do any more (too twisty, certain abs moves etc) and generally given good advice. I have had to really cut back on jumpy moves, but still feel like I've had a good workout - possibly just because I get out of breath a lot more quickly now!

Would also emphasise what PPs have said - be careful re pulling muscles or straining things, especially during stretching afterwards when you're warm and might not feel that you're overstretching.

chickydoo Wed 03-Dec-14 16:38:41

British Wheel Of Yoga recommend yoga after 14 weeks.
(At least after 12 week scan)
I guess you could be prone to dizziness & feel light headed, you could feel tired, off balance, not 100%
Maybe a gentle class would be Ok, but you wouldn't want to put yourself or baby through a hot Bikram or even ashtanga routine
( jumping back & through at a later stage of pregnancy would be too tricky anyway)
Ahimsa (kindness) is the most important of the moral observances of yoga, so it's probably best to be kind to yourself.
Often guidelines such as these are in place to protect all concerned. Can you imagine if you were unlucky enough to loose a baby at a very early stage 4-12 weeks. Maybe days or hours after a class. You might think in back of your head you had overdone it during the class, you might think the instructor had you doing things perhaps you shouldn't have been. It would very very unlikely that the exercise would be the cause of the miscarriage ( unless you tripped or fell or something) but we often look for things to blame.
This scenario happened to someone I know, she blamed the instructor, things got tricky, accusations and complaints were made yet it was not the instructors fault.

Just thought I'd give a different perspective.

birchwoods Thu 04-Dec-14 16:07:09

Thanks everyone. My run went fine last night. It was only a short one and I was no more tired than usual. Had a few very mild cramps (more of a sensation really) but think that's unrelated to the run. That will prob be my last run with the club this yr as it's the Christmas party next week and the Christmas run the following wk that involves mulled wine so I may bow out of that! I have enough events coming up where I'll have to do some stealth non-drinking, I don't need any more!

applecore0317 Fri 05-Dec-14 05:58:28

I've been going to the gym since week four, as was going before I found out, had to miss the odd week cause of nausea or just feeling absolutely shattered, but still going and am 15 weeks now. I am just mindful of my heart rate and try not to overdo it, have personally been keeping it below 140 and sticking with cardio

HazleNutt Fri 05-Dec-14 15:51:52

apple - absolutely your choice, but as I wrote above, there is no research behind the heart rate below 140 recommendation. It was just a guess.

CMP69 Fri 05-Dec-14 16:03:52

The obestrititian I used to work with said it was fine to carry on with exercise you already do, but not to start strenuous exercise if you weren't fit pre pregnancy.

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