During pregnancy there a lot of physiological changes in the body, which almost makes pregnancy and exercise a scary combination for new mums. Remember you are pregnant, not injured, and if you have been very active before, you are probably fine to still do some exercise now, just be mindful about the classes you join. Keep activities simple – now is not the time to increase endurance – and ask a qualified practitioner (someone who knows) before continuing or beginning a new programme.

Here are the do’s and don’ts of pre natal exercise, with a particular emphasis on Pilates:

Firstly, I just wanted to mention the changes in your body and how they will affect the activity you are doing:

1. Respiration – The respiratory rate naturally increases doing pregnancy, which therefore makes the body work harder. This will result in less endurance and maybe breathlessness. So take it easy, listen to your body and notice this change. Pilates is great for pregnancy as there is no real cardio element to the exercises so you will be getting a work out without the stress.

2. Joints – During pregnancy a hormone called Relaxin will start to loosen your joints. This might make you feel extra bendy as this is your body preparing for birth. It is important to remember however that this also weakens joints and ligaments – so always stretch to “pre pregnancy level” (if you can remember what that feels like). Be mindful at the end of a workout and during.

3. Increase in body temperature – Your body temperature will increase during pregnancy so always have some water with you and avoid exercising in hot conditions (Bikram Yoga is out of the question).

4. Incontinence – This is a touchy subject but one that affects a lot of women during pregnancy. Pilates is great for trying to prevent incontinence as it strengthens the pelvic floor. This is important as it is the weight of the baby on the bladder that compromises the pelvic floor. Pilates and Kegal exercises will help strengthen your pelvic floor.

5. Balance – During pregnancy your body changes shape to accommodate your little one, which will change your centre of gravity. So if you are finding your balance is a little off, don’t worry! Be careful when doing anything that compromises your balance – you may be a little wobblier.
These changes affect posture and a lot of women suffer from lower back pain. Exercise like Pilates will help with posture, help with finding a neutral spine and therefore help with any aches and pains.

Benefits of exercise:

It is very useful to exercise whilst pregnant, as it will make you feel better about yourself. Your body is changing and now is not the time to think about diet, weight gain etc. so doing a little bit of exercise will help with tone, strength and a little endurance.

Fatigue levels also grow with pregnancy, but exercise will help counteract this, as well as improve your mood through increased endorphin levels.

Improving posture is also a big plus point of doing Pilates. This improvement will help with backache, pelvic stability and will also make you aware of how you hold yourself.

So don’t be scared of exercise during pregnancy. Just notice what is happening to your body and always be aware of how you feel. If you are joining in classes always let the instructor know you are pregnant and where possible go to ‘Pre-Natal’ classes (because they are around).

Pre-Natal classes will focus on different exercises in the class. This is important because from the second trimester you will want to avoid lying down on your back and Pre-Natal classes should be designed to avoid such compromising positions. They will also use exercises that accommodate pregnancy.

Remember, you can still exercise as you are not injured, you are pregnant!

Keep fit ladies and submit a comment if you want some advice.

(If you are following any advice, for example post-natal exercises listed on the EssexBaby website, or anything related to health and wellbeing for you and your children (e.g. advice from other mums or bloggers about weaning or childcare) we always advise you to discuss these with your GP or health care provider first as Essex Baby Limited or our bloggers cannot be held responsible for any loss, damage, injury or inconvenience caused as a result of any inaccuracy or error within its website pages.)