You asked, we answered! Common pregnancy exercise questions answered

silver preg fidure holding quetsion mark copyDoes exercise affect the blood flow to my baby?

When you exercise blood flow is redirected to your muscles so there can be a slight decrease in blood flow to your baby, BUT your body and your baby has inbuilt safe pregnancy coping mechanisms. Multiple studies have confirmed that for low risk healthy pregnancies a moderate amount of exercise is safe and beneficial to both mother and growing baby. On the other end of the spectrum excessive, prolonged strenuous exercise (eg marathons, triathlons) during pregnancy will most probably severely restrict the blood flow to the uterus more by as much as 50%. Along with this, excessive exercise places added stress on the body leading to a rise in hormones that constrict blood vessels and redirects blood flow from the uterus to the mother’s working muscles which can result in fetal distress.

What does it mean if I get lower abdominal cramps and pressure when I exercise?

As your pregnancy develops your growing uterus and weight of your baby will start to exert more pressure down below. So, the lower abdominal cramps and pressure down below that you are experiencing can be due to your growing uterus and baby placing more pressure on your lower abdomen and pelvic floor area. Take this as a sign that your body is trying to tell you to slow things down a little. Try swapping high impact exercises such as running to low impact options such as walking, cross trainer, stationary bike, swimming etc

Why train abs during pregnancy?

Just like every other muscle in your body, use it or lose it!  If you avoid working and engaging your abs your muscle will start to break down and you will soon lose whatever abdominal tone you did have. 1. Maintaining a strong core during pregnancy will help stabilise your lower back and pelvic area helping to prevent and relieve backache. 2. A strong core will come in handy during labour helping you to bear down and push during contractions. 3. Maintaining a strong core during pregnancy will help to regain abdominal tone after you have delivered baby. Remember to safely adapted and modified as your pregnancy progresses and avoid lying flat on your back after your first trimester.

I have morning sickness should I continue to exercise and what can I do to help ease the nausea and vomiting?

Exercise may the last thing on your mind when you're feeling nauseated but studies suggest that light exercise helps fight nausea and improve morning sickness.  Exercise is great distraction technique, it may take a bit of effort to get yourself up and moving but once you're going your mind will be preoccupied with whatever your doing and hopefully you will forget all about the nausea! You probably won't feel up to a complete workout, so just choose low intensity options. Try eating small amounts of plain dry foods such as crackers, bread, potato that doesn’t give off a strong odour. Take small sips of water to keep you hydrated. Ginger is thought to help ease an upset and unsettled tummy so try sipping on ginger tea or dry ginger ale, try sucking on ginger lollies and try adding ginger to your food. If you find that you can’t keep any food or fluid down and this is ongoing for a couple of days I recommend you seek medical help.

What should I do if I develop a pregnancy complication or problem?

The type of exercise or duration of exercise may need to be adapted or altered, you may even need to cease exerting all together depending on what circumstance has popped up, so best check with your health care professional.

Some people are commenting that I look too small, is my baby ok?

Some studies have suggested that women who exercise during pregnancy grow slight smaller babies that have less body fat compared to women who are sedentary through pregnancy. BUT babies with lower body fat born to fit and healthy mothers has shown to have no effect on their health at birth or later on in life. The question which is now being asked is: Are babies born to a mother who exercises and has a lower percentage body fat actually normal in size and fatter baby born to mothers who don’t exercise abnormal?  This is an ongoing debate…… At your next midwife/doctors check ups they should measure your fundal height (the top of your uterus) to check that baby growth appropriate for dates.  Don't stress if people are commenting that your bump is to small because there are others reasons you may look small, such as the position your baby is lying in as well as if this is your first baby or if you have had babies before!

 Is it better to exercise in the morning or in the afternoon?

The choice is yours! It doesn't matter if you exercise in the morning or afternoon, but if you like to start the day with an energy boosting workout remember to eat something before you start.

Should I continue to exercise if I become sick?

If you are not feeling well than it’s probably best if you rest up for a day or so until you start to feel like you’re on the mend. Your immune system is under the pump trying to fight off whatever it is that is causing to feel under the weather, so it's best to lay off the exercise to avoid placing excess stress on your body. If you are generally really unwell, lacking energy and feeling horrible then rest up. If you only have the sniffles and a headache this is more of a mental issue, don’t use this as an excuse to become a couch potato for the day! In this situation exercise can actually help you to feel better and think clearer.

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