The important thing to remember about pregnancy is that it is a normal condition, not an illness and unless you have complications, it should be possible to enjoy sport at some level throughout most of your pregnancy. Our staff can offer individual consultations and exercise programs such as clinical pilates, Hydrotherapy and gym work to assist you in tailoring your program when you need to ease up on your current sports. There are various changes that occur during pregnancy that can affect performance. The first and most obvious of these is an increase in weight of about 10-12 kg which affects your body’s weight distribution and can affect your speed in your sport especially in regard to changing of direction. Your joints will also gradually loosen up ready for the birth and jerky bouncy stretches or overstretching may cause problems. If you use heart rate as an indicator of training intensity then you will find you have to exercise less to reach your target as pregnancy causes an increase in the resting heart rate. During the 2nd trimester of pregnancy the development of blood vessels to supply the growing placenta will cause your blood pressure to fall. From the fourth month, you should therefore try to avoid rapid changes of position, both from lying to standing and vice-versa, so that you don’t get dizzy spells. When exercising don’t stop sport suddenly because your bodies’ cardiovascular adjustments take longer. In aerobics any leg exercises done whilst lying of the back should be avoided after the fourth month due to the weight of the foetus which can impede the return of blood to the heart. Try to adapt these exercises. Most can be done lying on the side.
As pregnancy progresses your body will adapt to increase blood volume and oxygen supply. Although this happens, blood flow to the placenta is extremely important, so adjust the intensity and duration of exercise so that both the placenta and the working muscles can receive adequate blood supplies. The other change that will occur is to the pelvic floor muscles. They have to support a lot of abdominal pressure during pregnancy and are required to stretch considerably during a normal delivery. So it is extremely important to begin conditioning the pelvic floor muscles during pregnancy. Try to avoid exercises such as star jumps, which put a lot of pressure on the pelvic floor muscles.
Some contact sports or high intensity sports do pose a risk of direct injury. You should consider whether you should play, especially after the first 3 months. Controlled classes are safer although you need to remember the points previously mentioned. In the last few months of pregnancy you will probably find that a gentler sort of aerobics such as Clinical Pilates, yoga or gym work is more appropriate or even aqua aerobics or swimming. Avoid lifting heavy weights and endurance activities lasting longer than an hour. Try not to get overheated and ensure you drink lots of water. Get advice from your local physiotherapist should you be uncertain what exercise is safe for you.
Remember talk to your doctor or obstetrician should you have any further concerns regarding how much exercise you should be doing.