The Truth About Exercising Whilst Pregnant

Healthy Births, Happy Babies – The Truth About Exercising Whilst Pregnant (via iTunes)

via acast

Why this podcast?
There is so much information and content to be found in this podcast that it’s a great one to come back to now and then.

Therefore, Healthy Births, Happy Babies, is appearing for the third time.

If you would like to read the previous posts, If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it and Floating, please click on the links and let me know what you think.

The Healthy Births, Happy Babies podcast is sponsored by The Cap Wellness Centre in California and aims to share –

”helpful information about how to feel safe, supported and empowered during your pregnancy and birth.”

Hosted by Dr. Jay Warren, a pre-natal and paediatric chiropractor based at the Cap Wellness Centre, the podcast is definitely geared towards undisturbed birth.

However, even if you hold a different philosophy surrounding birth, there is so much information on such a variety of subjects that I know you will find a wealth of knowledge and information to tap into.

How does it look?
Episodes explore ”pregnancy issues, prenatal care, natural childbirth, post-partum care and paediatric care” and feature guests such as Dr. Michel Odent, Dr. Sarah Buckley and Penny Simkin.

Episodes are released weekly and are generally in the thirty to forty-minute range and,
with over seventy-eight episodes, a whole lot of ground has been covered.

Episodes have featured areas such as meditation during pregnancy, fertility & acupuncture, unassisted childbirth, For Dads – intimacy after children, how to overcome Type A stress in pregnancy, postpartum recovery, creating good eaters and creating a sanctuary plan for your postpartum care.

Why this episode?
This episode focuses on exercise during pregnancy.
Among other topics, Farel Hruska explores the top three myths surrounding exercise in pregnancy, how to switch your mindset towards fitness goals suitable for pregnancy and talks about how to handle any anxiety you may have if your fitness level takes a hit.

Who should listen to this episode?
Anyone who wants to continue exercising during their pregnancy or anyone who would like to improve their health and fitness now that they are pregnant.

The episode
The guest on this episode is Farel Hruska. Farel has twenty years experience as a personal trainer, fitness instructor and educator and has been working with FIT4MOM since early 2002.

FIT4MOM run a range of programmes for new and expectant mothers.

FIT4BABY is designed to help you strengthen your body in preparation for all the changes that will take place during your pregnancy.

Stroller Strides and Stroller Barre are programmes that you can do with a group of other mums and, as the names suggest, with your baby (and stroller) with you.

Body Back is described as ”a results-based workout designed for moms who are ready to take their fitness and vitality to the next level.”

Our Village is aimed at mothers in all stages of their journey and is a place to ”Support. Connect. Empower. Make a difference.”

From playgroups to mum’s nights out and book clubs, I love this concept. Motherhood is amazing but it is also a huge responsibility and it can be overwhelming. Being able to connect and share experiences with other mums is huge.

Although this episode is only thirty-eight minutes there is a lot of information in it and I don’t think it’s wise to try and feature it all here.

I’ll cover a really good chunk of it and I hope you will discover the rest of this episode for yourself.

Common exercise myths
#1 – Fitness can harm your baby
Women worry that they will either do too much exercise or the wrong exercise.

#2 – Heart rate
Until 2002, ACOG (American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists), recommended not allowing your heart rate to get above 140. In 2002 they removed that recommendation but it seems this information is still out there and women worry that their heart rate will get too high.

#3 – Working on your core during pregnancy
This is an interesting one. People often think that doing exercises that involve contracting your abdominal muscles can be harmful to your baby. Others simply believe there is no point working on your abs during pregnancy because your belly is going to grow anyway.

Farel points out that now is such an exciting time to be pregnant. Not only is it known that fitness is not harmful to you or your baby but it is actually recommended to exercise during pregnancy.


First Trimester
ACOG recommends that even women who did no exercise pre-pregnancy begin an exercise programme once they become pregnant.

I loved that Farel showed such empathy by pointing out that many pregnant women will feel too ill or low on energy (or both) to begin exercising during the first trimester.
However, even starting with something very slow can be a good way to begin moving.

Second Trimester
The rise in energy levels in the second trimester means that this may be an easier time to begin or to pick up your routine again.

Third Trimester
Keep moving.
Circulation slows down at this stage of pregnancy so keeping active could help with swelling.
Increased circulation helps with mood and energy levels as well so, even if your energy levels are starting to dip again, it is important to keep moving, however that looks at this point.

Farel underlines that some women will go through their third trimester feeling just as good as they did in their second trimester.

In that case, she says, keep on doing what you were doing!

This includes running and jumping as long as you feel good whilst doing it and there is no medical reason not to.

Even athletes are encouraged to keep training at their normal level during pregnancy.

Maintainance, says Farel, is the key word here.

Pregnancy is not the time to increase the intensity of your workouts or to begin something totally new. But to keep doing what you were doing? Yes, that’s fine.

I am adding here that if what you were doing pre-pregnancy was something like skydiving, boxing or horse racing, you might want to consider if those kinds of activities are something you feel comfortable continuing or whether you take a break during your pregnancy….

Beware of the athlete mindset
Very fit people get that way by pushing through barriers of pain and tiredness.

They ignore signals from their body telling them to slow down or rest. That is how they reach their next level of fitness.

This mindset can be a very hard one to get out of but during pregnancy, this mindset can be dangerous.

Maintain, maintain, maintain and listen to what your body is telling you.

Switch your focus
Listening to your body might mean slowing down, stopping for a rest or generally training at a lower intensity. If you are used to being very fit this can feel very discouraging.

You might feel that the fitness level you worked so hard to reach is slipping away. You might even wonder how you will manage to birth your baby if you can’t even complete your regular workout.

This, says Farah, is where a switch in focus can help.

Rather than focusing on your fitness decreasing and being unable to run that 10k, think of yourself as being in training for something else.

You are now in training for labour and birth is your finish line.

I loved it when Farah said –

”We need to honour our body and do what we can do with the body that we have today”

This is something to keep in mind throughout your pregnancy and postpartum journey.

In fact, it’s probably something to keep in mind full stop.

For women who have been focusing on losing weight or for those who trained hard to maintain their weight, it can be hard to watch the numbers on the scale go up …….and up.

Focusing on health and wellness rather than weight gain and realising that your body is doing an amazing thing, could help with any anxiety over your changing body.

Pregnancy is not forever.

You are growing a human being.

Allow yourself some grace.

Farel goes on to discuss the importance of core and pelvic floor strength and the loss of identity that can come when you can’t do as much as you used to in your workout.

I highly encourage you to listen to the full episode for lots more details and I hope you are inspired to keep moving or get moving in preparation for your next big fitness event –

Labour, birth and keeping up with a new baby.

To wrap up
Being fit and healthy during pregnancy is just as important, maybe even more important, than at any other time during your life.

Providing that your pregnancy is healthy and that you listen to your body there is no reason to stop or even change your regular exercise routine. Apart from maybe the skydiving…..

The emotional ‘fitness’ and support from other mums that can be gained from joining a programme such as stroller strides, is perhaps equally valuable to the physical health benefits you can expect.

Wherever you are based, there is likely to be a pregnancy or mum and baby fitness class that you can join.

I am going to finish with these words of wisdom from Farel –

“Pregnancy is a state of health. It is not a state of disability”

I’d love to hear from anyone who is or has been part of a pregnancy fitness group.

What made you join? What did you gain from being in the programme?

Do you believe that continuing or starting to exercise helped when it came to birthing your baby?

Other episodes on this topic
The CORD – Labour & Lunges: Pregnancy Fitness for Baby and Mommy

Ben Greenfield Fitness – How hard can you exercise when you’re pregnant?

Pregnancy Exercise – Fit for Birth and Beyond

Nutrition Matters Podcast – Pregnancy: Nutrition, Exercise and a Health Body Image

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By emilywills

Emily Wills is a doula based in Stockholm. She believes that birth can be a beautiful and empowering experience and started this blog as a way of sharing some really great podcasts. She is also a mother of three and an enthusiastic runner.

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