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Pre and Post-Natal fitness – what you need to know!

Background

Traditional medicine advice suggests that women already currently engaging in some of exercise should reduce their habitual level of exertion during pregnancy & for non-exercising women to refrain from initiating strenuous exercise programs. This advice was primarily based on concerns that exercise could potentially affect early & late pregnancy outcomes.

However, recent studies focusing on aerobic and strength conditioning exercise regimens in healthy pregnant or post-natal women indicate that moderate exercise does not increase adverse pregnancy outcomes or quantity or composition of breast milk

It is essential that a woman maintains good exercise and nutrition habits during the process of pregnancy. Women who exercise regularly and maintain a strict healthy diet are less likely to have complications during pregnancy

 

There so many benefits for a woman to maintain a good nutritious diet, some of these include

– good fetal brain development for the baby

– a healthy birth weight

– dramatically reduce the chance of birth defects

– reduce the risk of anaemia

– lesser levels of fatigue & morning sickness during pregnancy

 

A well-balanced pregnancy diet should include the following

– lean sources of protein

– vitamin C

– calcium

– fruits & veg

– whole grains

– iron rich foods

– adequate fat

– folic acid

 

Potential risks that may arise as a result of nutrition

As mentioned earlier, it is absolutely important that a woman stays on top of her health and exercise so she does not gain excessive weight

  • foetal macrosomia, is a condition where the baby is born over weight. Anything considered weighing at 4 kilos at birth is dangerous, about 9% of babies born worldwide are born overweight. In extreme cases of foetal macrosomia, babies that are born over 4.5 kilos and make vaginal delivery much difficult than it should be which could lead to a caesarean and injury of the baby at birth
  • pre-eclampsia, a disorder of pregnancy characterised by high maternal blood pressure and protein in the urine. It is the most common serious medical complication of pregnancy, affecting around 5-8% of all pregnancies in Australia. The cause of it are not fully understood, but recent studies indicate genetic factors and the placenta have played a significant role in this disorder.  There is no cure for pre-eclampsia, a women’s bloody pressure usually returns to normal when the baby is born and followed by the removal of the placenta after the birth.
  • Caesarean section or typically known as a C-section, the use of surgery to deliver a baby if vaginal delivery will cause any harm.  Causes of a c-section could be from pre-eclampsia, diabetes and an umbilical cord prolapse
  • Lower back & pelvic pain as a result of excessive weight

 

Pre and post-natal exercise guidelines

Type of exercises to AVOID during pregnancy

– any strenuous activity working up to 90% max HR

– long distance running

– isometric contractions

– high impact / ballistic movements

– breath holding (Valsalva manoeuvre)

– significant load on the abdominal area or pelvic floor e.g.; crunches, sit-ups and planks are to be avoided

– stretching beyond your current range of motion

 

Exercises that are SAFE to do during pregnancy

– proper warm ups & cool downs to help with blood circulation and avoid blood pooling

– a focus on pregnancy specific muscles such as pelvic floor & postural muscle strengthening

– modified strength training (low-moderate)

– flexibility training within their limits

– relaxation practices e.g.; meditation and walking

 

Post-natal guidelines

After six weeks, provided the women has had her post-natal check with her doctor she can re commence training. Prior the six weeks it should only be walking and safe pelvic floor exercises

 

SAFE exercises to do post-natal

– appropriate pelvic floor and core endurance

– postural awareness & strengthening (especially of the upper back and shoulder girdle)

– gentle stretching of the neck, lower back and shoulders

– low resistance training

 

Exercises to AVOID post-natal 

– exercises that cause a bearing down on pelvic floor

– high impact exercise —- until core, pelvic floor, bladder and bowel control has been regained

– no breath holding

– abdominal exercises until female can demonstrate pelvic floor & core strength in a particular movement

 

From week 6 – 12

– continue increasing intensity and weights accordingly

– progress core and pelvic floor exercises

Weeks 12 and onwards 

– abdominal pelvic floor testing

– resume high impact exercise if it is part of their program

– running and sports

 

The women should be free of any ongoing pre post-natal complications such as rectus diastasis and pelvic joint pain. At this stage a woman should not experience any back pain, vaginal heaviness or urine loss during or after exercise

If these symptoms do occur

– re-assess the exercise program and reduce intensity in workouts

– see a doctor, physio or any health professional

 

Do you need help getting back to your pre-baby figure? 

Schedule a Health and Fitness Game Plan HERE