Working out during pregnancy – benefits and what to obey

By Spinning Mum:

As Konstantin is starting to roll around the house these days, does not want to take naps anymore and desires constant entertainment, it took me ages to finish this post… Maybe I should change the subject to “keeping fit by crawling after your baby” ;)

When I found out that I was pregnant with the little rascal, I was a bit worried that I might have to give up on exercising. The first thing I asked my gynaecologist upon having confirmation that my morning sickness wasn’t a sign of a hangover was: “Am I still allowed to engage in sportive activities?”

At that time Kai and I took our bikes out for a 60km ride almost every morning before work and occasionally joined some of the training rides of the Tung Chung Triathlon Association, and I was certain that I will instantly turn into an obnoxious sourpuss if my doctor would tell me to skip any exhausting activities.

Fortunately my reservations were unfounded. My doc informed me that working out during (a risk-free) gestation is generally a good thing to do as it bears a lot of benefits, including the fact that regular training sessions help to prevent physical complaints during gravidity and prepare the body for the exertions during labour and birth.

I was told that working out with a baby bump will not only help to keep the weight gain in check but also limits problems with joints, tendons, circulation and digestion. It will reduce the risk of gestational diabetes and pregnancy-related high blood pressure. Moreover it will help moms-to-be to get a good night’s sleep and to feel better about their changing bodies.

Personally, I only gained good experiences along the way and can only support the above mentioned benefits. With Konstantin I was able to run up to the end of month six (though I had to slow down immensely once the belly grew bigger and bigger) and even spent half an hour on the static trainer two days before giving birth.

Of course not every kind of workout is recommended and you should always check with your doctor and/or midwife which activities are still okay for you to pursue and what to bear in mind when hitting the gym but in general there are only a few rules to obey:

1. Due to possible injuries to you and your unborn baby avoid contact sports and activities which can make you slip or fall (e.g. soccer, basketball, judo, horseback riding, skiing, rock climbing, in-line-skating etc.). Remember that high impact aerobics can weaken your pelvic floor. [Views on cycling in particular are controversial and I will dedicate a separate post to it at a later stage.]

2. Monitor your heart rate. Your pulse should not exceed 140-145 bpm as your heart has to pump extra blood into the placenta. However, your pulse can go bonkers once you are with child. As a rule of thumb you should take it easy once you cannot carry on a conversation without panting.

3. Listen to your body. Stop whatever you are doing if you feel unwell. As soon as you feel dizzy or uncomfortable take a rest and have a big sip from your water bottle. Needless to say that you should abort your workout as soon as you suffer from abdominal or chest pain.

4. Always warm up and cool down as your joints and ligaments are much softer and thus more prone to injuries over the next months.

5. Drink plenty of water before, during and after working out. It’s important you don’t become dehydrated. Especially in warm weather this may cause your body temperature to rise which may not be good for you or your baby.

This in mind and unless you are experiencing serious complications, there is no reason to sit around - So baby, let’s move!