Are you Fit to Deliver?

Giving birth is hugely physical, and the fitter you are, the better you will cope with the birth, and the quicker you will recover afterwards.

Exercising when pregnant has massive benefits, from promoting general well-being and body awareness to more specific advantages such as promoting better circulation and digestion, to avoiding excessive weight gain and swelling of extremities, particularly hands and ankles. Breathing exercises and targeted exercises which aim to increase your muscular strength and endurance will increase your tolerance of labour by training you to push strongly and for longer when delivering your baby.

Moderate intensity physical activity of at least 30 minutes every day is recommended for pregnant women. If fitness wasn’t part of your life before your pregnancy, then begin with 15 minutes of continuous exercise three times a week and increase the sessions gradually.

If you are already working out then aim to maintain, rather than increase, your current level of fitness during your pregnancy. Ensure that the level is moderate, so you should always be able to maintain a conversation whilst exercising. Keep an eye on your core temperature, drink plenty of water throughout the workout and avoid sessions where there is little or no ventilation / air flow. Eat a nutritious snack around an hour before you work out, and again after you have finished. I recommend that my clients have a banana in their kit bags for this reason.

Efficient breathing is essential to any physical task, be that an exercise session or labour and delivery. Learning to use your lungs fully allows your muscles to work effectively and work for longer. In an exercise session for pregnant women, the instructor should always warn you not to hold your breath, and ideally they will coach you in breathing techniques that will help you in the early stages of labour both mentally and physically, allowing us to focus, to feel in control, and over-ride some pain.

Pelvic floor exercises should form part of your programme, especially if suffering from SPD (Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction), which occurs when a hormone called relaxin softens the ligaments holding the two halves of the pelvis together in order for your baby to pass through the pelvis as easily as possible. These softened ligaments allow movement in the symphysis pubis joint, which causes pain in the back, pelvis and hips – especially if one side moves more than the other. Certain pilates exercises that focus on hip stability are particularly useful here, and I recommend these to clients so that the hips are balanced and strengthened before the trouble starts. I also offer recommendations to sufferers, based on their specific needs, on how to lessen the pain in day to day life. I also meet many new Mums who speak of back pain, of sciatica, of SPD and lots of other pregnancy related conditions, which could have been alleviated, if not avoided altogether, through exercise during the pregnancy.

A great way to meet other pregnant women and stay fit while you are pregnant is to join a specialist Pregnancy Fitness Class e.g. Pilates, Yoga and Aqua classes as these disciplines offer effective low impact workouts that should not put strain on your softening pregnant joints. These groups can provide you with a new network of friends and a brilliant resource for finding out more about pregnancy. At my sessions we talk about anything from pushchairs to perineal massage, nothing is off limits, and it is often a great release to see the funnier side of pregnancy with others in the same boat. Make sure that your Instructor is qualified to teach pre and postnatal clients –

As a final word, I would urge everyone who is pregnant to embrace fitness and a healthy lifestyle so that you have the energy to enjoy the brilliant journey that is coming your way... parenthood.

See my classes on the back page. 4

Author, Helen McClorry, Flirty Fitness Pilates with Helen, Tel.07833 511720

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44