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The Most Critical Do’s and Don’ts of Working Out While Pregnant

The Most Critical Do’s and Don’ts of Working Out While Pregnant

Are you scared of working out whilst pregnant? Or simply not sure how to proceed? Everything seems slightly more daunting once you’re carrying and creating a whole other person.

In this article I will give you specific advice, tips and strategies for working out while pregnant. Ensuring that you, and your baby, are safe. Not only that but you will both benefit.

Benefits of Working Out While Pregnant

It is clear that everyone, not just you but your baby, and probably your partner and other kids will benefit from you working out while pregnant. If you’re sleeping better and feel less stress, you can guarantee everyone in the household is going to feel better.

How you benefit from working out while pregnant:

  • Reduced incidence of lower back pain
  • 30% reduction in the risk of gestational diabetes
  • Reduced likelihood of unplanned cesarian
  • Lower incidence and reduce severity of depression
  • Less pregnancy weight gain
  • Lower risk of urinary incontiennce
  • Reduced pregnancy constipation
  • Less pregnancy tiredness
  • May have a shorter labour

How your baby benefits from working out while pregnant:

  • A healthier heart
  • Normal birth weight
  • Quicker neurological development
  • Reduced risk of respiratory distress syndrome (for infants of high-risk women)
  • Less maternal stress could reduce impact on immune system development

Instant Big-Rocks for Working out While Pregnant

Before we get cracking into what really will benefit, here are some instant ‘big-rocks’ when it comes to working out while pregnant.

Safety first: Check with your midwife

Each person and pregnancy is individual – and as I”m not speaking to you in person, the first pre-qualifier is that you check with your doctor that you’re ok to work out while pregnant. In certain circumstances, it is not recommended due to potential complications arising from exercise.

If you’re new to exercising or have just fallen pregnant do check with your GP or midwife before commencing or recommencing your exercise program.

Exercise Check In Second – No lying Flat or Crunches

Crunches are a whole other issue in regards to pre and post natal training that I’ll get into during another article.

For now, know that lying flat on your back puts pressure on your body, especially after 16 weeks. The weight of your bump pressing on certain blood vessels can reduce cardiac output, make you feel dizzy and affect the flow of blood that carries nutrients and oxygen to your baby.

While this means traditional stomach crunches are out, you can and should still include core and pelvic floor strengthening exercises in your routine. These I’ll get to later in the article.

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Third Intensity Check In – No High Intensity Workouts

When it comes to exercise intensity, it is best to abide by the guideline “to be able to comfortably hold a conversation” whilst working out. Unless you are an athlete and extremely used to very high heart rates whilst you workout, keeping your rate of perceived exertion to a 7 out of 10 is best practice.

Experts agree that you should avoid undertaking activities that will raise your core temperature by more than 2°C – or above 38.9°C. This is because such a temperature change may result in hyperthermia (the opposite of hypothermia). Hyperthermia during pregnancy has been linked to a twofold increase in the risk of birth defects impacting the spine or brain.

As such, it is not advisable to use hot tubs or spas during pregnancy, and hot yoga should be avoided as well as parking in only moderate intensity exercise.

Final & Fourth Point – No high contact/dangerous sports

For obvious reasons, contact sports or sports in which it’s likely you can fall or have an accident should be avoided.

For example scuba diving while pregnant should be avoided as your baby will have no protection against decompression sickness (‘the bends’) or gas embolism – bubbles in the bloodstream that can cut off blood supply or cause breathing difficulties.

Similarly, horse riding, climbing, cycling, gymnastics and other activities that require extreme balance are best avoided as your centre of gravity shifts and affects your balance.

Certainly, sports like kick boxing, jujitsu or rugby in which contact is prevalent should be avoided for bump protection.

Actual Workouts You Can Do While Pregnant

1. Let your personal trainer or group exercise instructor know that you’re pregnant

In doing so they can assist you in providing expert advice or refer you to a qualified practitioner in your area. If you’re unsure ask your GP or Midwife for a referral.

2. Use your breath to engage your core and pelvic floor throughout your workout programs

Your breath plays a big part in controlled core to assist with labour and reduce back pain. We each take thousands of breaths per day, as as your baby grows pressure is placed upon the lungs and pelvic floor.

Preparing and practicing proper breath ensures that your core remains as integrated and activated as possible throughout and after your pregnancy.

3. Find a Holistic Core Restore Coach

The reason the Holistic Core Restore® programmes are more effective than performing keels or traditional abdominal exercise alone for true core restore and pelvic floor activation. A Hollisitc Core Restore Coach will work with you to integrate your core and pelvic floor with your whole body through a series of movements and lifestyle factors.

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4. Join a Pre & Post Natal Class

Join a Pre & Post Natal Class in order to move in specific ways designed to boost your health and recovery post birth.

This not only provides you with a chance to connect with other pre & post natal women in your area to and create a community; but also provides you access to pre & post natal experts who can give you tailored advice for exercising whilst pregnant.

5. Focus on strengthening the glute muscles

Focus on strengthening the glute muscles to counteract the anterior tilt produced by your expanding bump.

Most people will simply focus on keeping the core engaged and active to help the ‘pre-mummy-tummy’ bounce back. When in actual fact the synergist muscle to the core for pelvic stability is the butt.

Really focus on strengthening the glute muscles in order to support the core, posture and back.

Hinge movements such as single leg romanian deadlifts are a brilliant way to do so. You can do this holding a Kettlebell or Dumbell but also, once the bump is big enough just using your bodyweight.

6. Enjoy swimming

Enjoy swimming, especially in your third trimester, to remove weight and boost lymphatic drainage of your feet and ankles.

It’s well known that your ankles swell during the last months of pregnancy. This is due to the changes in posture from the weight of the stomach pulling down towards the floor.

Consequently, this causes the front of the hip to become compressed. And this in turn reduces circulation of the lymphatic fluid in the lower body.

One way to improve this circulation is to get into water as the pressure from the water removes the weight of the bump whilst providing pressure to the legs improving circulation.

7. Bring layers to your workouts

Bring layers to your workouts so that you can add and remove layers as you warm up and cool down.

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As previously mentioned, changes in body temperature can be dangerous for the baby – using layers so that you can keep your temperature constant is one the the most simple and best things you can do whilst working out while pregnant.

8. Practice the 7 fundamental primal movement patterns in your workouts

Practice the 7 fundamental primal movement patterns in your workouts – squat, lunge, anti-rotate, push, carry, hinge, pull.

“We love pregnant mamas to be regularly training their squats, since a low squat is the ideal position for working through contractions and pushing during labor.”

They also improve pelvic floor strength and elasticity to help prevent tearing during the natural labor process and teach abdominal strength relative to hip mobility for an easier labor and faster postnatal recovery.

Kiberd and her team prefer front squats done with at least a 12-kilogram kettlebell held at the chest. (Choose an appropriate weight for your level.)

“The kettlebell gives great feedback to the muscles that need to engage to stand you back up and to stabilize your weight while you’re down in the squat,” she explains.

And once the bump gets big? “No weight on the front is needed,” she says. “The belly is that natural weight.”

9. Do exercise that your enjoy

Because really if you’re enjoying it so will bump and you’ll feel less stressed.

Do not making working out while pregnant a chore – if it becomes that way, seek advice from an expert in your gym or area on some new varied things that you can try.

10. Practice anti-rotation exercises

Practice anti-rotation exercises whilst focussing on the breath for core integration and activation.

The Palloff press (a core stabilizer done on a cable machine) and the bear crawls offer the same degree of effectiveness.

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“These two exercises engage the external and internal obliques, which are involved in stabilizing the torso in rotation and help stabilize the shoulders down and back.”

11. Make sure to wind down properly

Cooling down slowly after your workouts and providing a little leeway time before your next appointment will reduce your stress levels and help you feel more balanced.

It will also stop sharp changes in body temperature that are non-beneficial to your baby.

Take your time and enjoy each session for what it is.

The Bottom Line

You will have to make fitness modifications as your body changes, but deep down, you know that’s ok. Dr Dawn Harper says

“We’re now seeing evidence that exercising in pregnancy may be one of the best things you can do for your baby’s future health. Pregnancy exercise can have a huge impact on your personal experience of pregnancy, too. Provided you follow the expert guidelines, it’s safe for most women to continue and even start exercising in pregnancy. Just make sure you check with your midwife or doctor first, in case there are any specific medical reasons why you should avoid being physically active in pregnancy.”

There are certain things that are essential. The first being to check with your Dr/Midwife to be given the ‘OK’ to exercise.

There are definite ‘no-nos’ such as abstaining from contact or dangerous sports as well as performing extreme high intensity workouts that bring your heart rate and temperature very, abnormally high for you. It is also contraindicated that you perform any exercises lying on your back.

The exciting thing is that you can and should exercise. You simply have to adapt to what is possible by seeking advice of a local pre & post natal expert. If you take one sentence away let it be this:

Focus upon your breath, workout at a 7/10 level, strengthen your glutes and perform whole body integrated exercises preferentially led by a pre & post natal expert.

And finally, if in doubt, get in the pool for some weight off your feet and relax!

References

  1. Pennick V, Liddle SD. Interventions for preventing and treating pelvic and back pain in pregnancy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2013(CD0011):1-100.
  2. Sanabria‐Martínez G et al. Effectiveness of physical activity interventions on preventing gestational diabetes mellitus and excessive maternal weight gain: a meta‐analysis. BJOG 2015;122(9):1167-74.
  3. Price BB et al. Exercise in pregnancy: effect on fitness and obstetric outcomes-a randomized trial. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2012;44(12):2263-9.
  4. Domenjoz I et al. Effect of physical activity during pregnancy on mode of delivery. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2014;211(4):401.e1-e11.
  5. Gaston A, Prapavessis H. Tired, moody and pregnant? Exercise may be the answer. Psychol Health 2013;28(12):1353-69.
  6. Robledo-Colonia AF et al. Aerobic exercise training during pregnancy reduces depressive symptoms in nulliparous women: a randomised trial. J Physiother 2012;58(1):9-15.
  7. Perales M et al. Benefits of aerobic or resistance training during pregnancy on maternal health and perinatal outcomes: A systematic review. Early Hum Dev 2016;94:43-8..
  8. Shi W et al. Epidemiology and risk factors of functional constipation in pregnant women. PloS one 2015;10(7):e0133521
  9. Gaston A, Prapavessis H. Tired, moody and pregnant? Exercise may be the answer. Psychol Health 2013;28(12):1353-69.
  10. Barakata et al. Exercise during pregnancy is associated with a shorter duration of labor. A randomized clinical trial 2018, 224 33-40
  11. May LE et al. Aerobic exercise during pregnancy influences fetal cardiac autonomic control of heart rate and heart rate variability. Early Hum Dev 2010;86(4):213-7.
  12. Bisson M et al. Physical activity volumes during pregnancy: A systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies assessing the association with infant’s birth weight. AJP Reports 2016;6(02):e170-e97.
  13. Labonte-Lemoyne E et al. Exercise during pregnancy enhances cerebral maturation in the newborn: A randomized controlled trial. J Clin Exp Neuropsychol 2016:1-8.
  14. Muktabhant B et al. Diet or exercise, or both, for preventing excessive weight gain in pregnancy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2015 Jun 15;(6):CD007145.
  15. Marques AH, Bjorke-Monsen AL, Teixeira AL, Silverman MN. Maternal stress, nutrition and physical activity: impact on immune function, CNS development and psychopathology. Brain Research. 2015;1617:28–46

Featured photo credit: Jernej Graj via unsplash.com

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Camilla Dempster

A prenatal/postnatal and health expert who teaches women to ditch the binge/restrict/guilt cycle around their body, food and exercise.

The Leading Causes of Prenatal Depression and How to Manage it Best The Most Critical Do’s and Don’ts of Working Out While Pregnant Working in the Third Trimester (The Complete Survival Guide)

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Last Updated on November 18, 2019

30 Fun Things to Do at Home

30 Fun Things to Do at Home

I’m BORED! Have you ever heard someone in your family use those words?

Most of us have.

I barred that word from my house. Whenever someone said they were bored, I gave them two options:

First, there is always work that can be done. Secondly, find something to do.

There are always creative things that we can do at home. You just need to put some thought and imagination into your day.

The list of enjoyable things you can do is inexhaustible. I am going to share 30 fun things to do at home. Some of the events are best done at appropriate times of the year. Enjoy!

1. Have a Costume Night

    Generally, the only time we can get away with putting on costumes is on Halloween. It is so entertaining to put on a costume and play.

    Host an evening where everyone has to dress up in a costume. (Some costume ideas here!) Eat your dinner that evening all dressed up. Play games and just have a party. You can even make it a “themed” costume party by choosing a time era or movie characters. Shape it to meet your interests.

    2. Throw an Indoor Picnic

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      Set out a picnic blanket and basket of food and eat your dinner as though you were having a picnic. Just having variety in your family life brings you closer together as a family unit. Events like this are often the catalyst for a fun-filled evening.

      3. Have a Christmas Party (*In the Summer)

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        Set up some Christmas decorations and have a Christmas celebration during the summer.

        Prior to this event, buy a few Christmas presents to give to an organization that accepts donations for families in need at Christmas time. Have wrapping paper on hand. Wrap up the gifts, while thinking of the joy they will bring to some little girl or boy at Christmas.

        This serves to make your family mindful of others. Everyone in the family will be excited when Christmas comes and they can donate the gifts that you wrapped in the summer. It’s unique to have a Christmas party during the summer.

        4. Host an International Dinner Night

        As a family, pick out a country you would like to learn more about and are interested in. Find cuisine that is unique to that country. Prepare a dinner that would be served in that country.

        The family can even find clothing that is worn in the country and wear it to dinner. Each family member would be responsible to bring one fact about the country to share at dinner time. For example, you could choose Mexico. You could serve tacos, enchiladas,and arroz con pollo.

        Everyone could wear sombreros to dinner. Plan for an evening of creative learning time!

        5. Film a “Newscast”

        The technology that exists today is awesome. Smartphones come equipped to make videos.

        Set up and make a newscast of events that are going on locally or events that are taking place in your family circle. This will also help everyone learn to speak in public. Doing this at home is an unusual way to interact as a family.

        6. Have an Indoor/Outdoor Scavenger Hunt

          Everyone loves hunting for hidden things. Type up a list of things that need to be found and give everyone a list. The things can be inside your home or even outdoors around the yard. Put a time limit on how long they have to locate the articles.

          Be creative. You can even put some things in the form of clues, so everyone has to figure out what the object is. Have a small prize for the winner.

          7. Learn to Do Nail Art

          Nail art is the “in” thing right now. You see people with their fancy nails everywhere. With some patience, you can learn to do this at home. Spend time practicing this. You can find kits and tools for this at department stores and drug stores. It is relaxing to sit around painting nails and compare the outcomes.

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          8. Plant Seedlings

          Planting seedlings and watching their growth is rewarding, as well as educational. You would need to do a bit of research as to what would be the best time to plant. The time frame fluctuates between various types of plants. Most plants take 3-15 weeks to mature to a level to be transplanted into a garden. You would want to know what type of plants you are planting and the time needed. It brings great joy to watch them develop and bloom once they are transplanted into a garden.

          9. Host a Themed Movie Night

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            There are many movies that have sequels. Pick a genre that your family would enjoy. Plan for a whole evening of back-to-back viewing of the movies. Make sure you have plenty of popcorn and snacks on hand! If you want to be really creative, find props that go with the movie and set them out. You can even make a dessert that matches the movie theme. May the force be with you!

            10. Play Games

            Board games are an excellent way to have fun at home. There are so many options to choose from. Some of our favorites include Ticket to Ride, Catan, Sequence, and Risk. These are just a few of the many varieties out there. Go to a local game store and see what appeals to the taste of your family.. The great thing about board games is that you are able to interact with everyone while playing. Let the games begin!

            11. Film a Cooking Show

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              Have you ever watched the cooking shows on TV? Cooking is a hot topic. In fact, cooking shows are so popular these days that there are networks that only broadcast shows about cooking.  Pick out a recipe you would like to try. Pretend you are hosting your own cooking show and video it. Make sure the whole family participates, in one way or another. You are certain to have a lot of laughs while watching your family episode.

              12. Make Christmas Cards

              Homemade Christmas cards are unique and special. Craft stores and department stores sell supplies that you can purchase to make beautiful cards. Use your creative skills and have an evening where you all come together and make Christmas cards to send to your family and friends.

              13. Make a Scarecrow

                Autumn is never complete without the fun of making a scarecrow. Rustling in the fallen leaves and stuffing them into old clothing brings out the kid in everyone.

                One time while visiting my grandfather, I thought it would be fun to make him a scarecrow for his yard. I never imagined that he would come out and start making it with me. He was well into his 80s, and yet the joy in his eyes when we made that scarecrow together was a memory I will always cherish.

                For those who like to be different, you can always make an indoor scarecrow at any time of year, using newspaper or paper towels as stuffing.

                14. Have a Karaoke Night

                Plan an evening of karaoke. This is a great way to spend family time together. PlayStation and Wii have several options to pick from. From experience, this is an evening of lots of laughter and joy! Everyone loves to sing…even those who might not have a singing voice like to bust out at karaoke.

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                15. Do a Puzzle

                Puzzle-making is a calming way to spend time together at home. Hours can be spent finding just the right pieces to add to the puzzle. The best part is when you see the finished product. This isn’t a one-night activity, so set aside a place that the puzzle can be undisturbed. You can find mats that roll your puzzle up when you aren’t working on it. If you have a spare table that isn’t used daily, you could have it there on display and readily available to continue on.

                16. Play with Lego

                I am sure you have seen some amazing pieces of art made with Lego. Of course, not everyone has talent enough to make huge projects with Lego. Fortunately, the pleasure isn’t limited to your ability to build great things. Regardless of what you build, simply be creative and let the kid in you come out.

                17. Make Jewelry

                Learning to make jewelry isn’t that difficult. You can find many links on the internet that will teach you how to make earrings and necklaces.

                Visit your local craft store or department store and purchase some tools and supplies. Take your time and visualize what you want the finished product to look like. The jewelry you make can also be presents to give away. That is, of course, if you can bear to part with what you made.

                18. Host an English Tea Party

                  Some of us can remember being a little girl and having tea parties, chatting with our imaginary friends and sipping tea. Now that you are older, why not have a real tea party? Have the family dress up in their best outfits and host an English Tea Party. There are guidelines, recipes, and even games to play on the internet. Do a bit of exploring and planning, then host the perfect tea party at home for your family.

                  19. Plant Bulbs

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                    There are two times of year that bulbs can be planted. In the fall, you can plant spring bulbs such as tulips and daffodils. Alliums, agapanthus, cannas and some other summer bulbs can be planted in early spring. Set aside an appropriate time and plant bulbs in your yard. You will reap rewards when you see the sprouts starting to come up. Your yard will look lovely with the flowers blooming.

                    20. Read a Book

                    The art of reading aloud has lost its popularity. Pick out a book that would interest your family and have an evening each week that you read the story aloud. Take turns reading out loud. Interact about what is going on in the story line. This can be your own family book club.

                    Looking for books to read next? Here’re some self-help books to read, and here’re some great books for fiction lovers.

                    21. Have a Water Balloon Fight

                    This activity is best done outdoors in warm weather. This is an “action” activity that brings out the youthfulness in all of us. Depending on the size of your family, you can have teams for this. Fill up as many balloons as you like with water. Go outside and aim for your target. Run, laugh and have fun!

                    22. Learn Yoga

                    Yoga is so beneficial for every age group. As a family unit, learn yoga. Once again, there are many learning tools for this. You can find videos at your local library. This is a refreshing way to enjoy healthy interaction as a family.

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                    23. Invent a Writing Code

                    Invent your own code and write messages to each other. Take the alphabet and transform it into symbols and signs to represent each letter. It’s exciting to come up with your code. Once it is created, give everyone a copy of the code, and begin writing messages to one another. It will be interesting to translate words into the special code you made.

                    24. Have a Photo Shoot

                    Gather together some props and outfits and take family pictures. Make sure each member has individual shots as well. Acting as a professional photographer, be creative in the photos you take. Take funny pictures. Take serious pictures. Take candid shots. The joy of digital photography is that you can take as many photos as you like and delete what doesn’t work. Make sure you add props to make it interesting!

                    25. Learn Calligraphy

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                      Learning a new technique is always interesting. Calligraphy is a well-known type of writing with special pens. Craft stores and department stores have kits designed to assist you in the learning process. Write out poetry or some of your favorite quotes. You never know, you might acquire a talent and be able to frame some of your work.

                      26. Have a BBQ

                      It’s always enjoyable to have a barbecue. You can cook up your food and eat outside. After you are finished, have a campfire and tell scary stories. Remember how fun it is to sit around a campfire telling stories. Make this happen in your yard. Enjoy the night sky. Most of all, enjoy each other!

                      27. Invent Your Own Board Game

                      Discuss what type of game you want to make. Design the board together. Make the rules that will need to be followed. Make the game pieces that you will need. Play the game that you invented. Coming up with the game and the rules you want to make is an awesome time of interaction with one another. The results of your collaboration will be so exciting to view and play.

                      28. Have a Spa Night

                      Plan an evening where you can do an at-home spa night. Light candles, put on relaxing music, and make your atmosphere resemble a spa. You can do facials, manicures, and pedicures. You also can have bubble baths. Schedule it so that each person is doing a different thing and rotate the process. Your family will enjoy this time of pampering and relaxing.

                      29. Play Charades

                      This game has existed for such a long time and yet it never grows old. You can buy charade games already packaged. However, feel free to make up your own.

                      Each family member can contribute by writing down charades on index cards. Watching your family members act out the charade while the others are guessing is guaranteed to be a night full of fun and laughter.

                      30. Make a Family Scrapbook

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                        Choose an assortment of family pictures taken during different events. Compile these photos into groups and begin to make a scrapbook. Perhaps you want to focus on a special trip your family took or another meaningful event you wish to document. The ideas for creating your family scrapbook are endless. Personalize this and make it your own; after all, this is your story!

                        I hope that out of this list you will find some new things that you want to try at home. We have already done most of the things on this list as a family, and we look forward to doing the few that are left. Have fun and make some unique family memories that will be remembered for years to come.

                        More Ideas of Fun Things to Do

                        Featured photo credit: Andreina Vincentelli via unsplash.com

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