This second chapter of “myths” about pregnancy and exercise covers two common topics of confusion. 1) running is not safe during pregnancy and 2) abdominal exercises of any kind should be avoided after the first trimester.
When it comes to the question is running safe during pregnancy, opinions vary greatly dependant on who you speak to. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (ACOG) says if you were a runner before pregnancy, then often you can continue running during pregnancy. But ACOG does suggest talking to your doctor first and perhaps modifying your routine.
If you’re new to running, you might want to hold off until after the baby arrives since it’s a physically stressful activity that your body and joints might not be ready for.
As a pregnant runner, there are certain things to consider before you lace up your shoes and head out the door. Each stage of your pregnancy will bring different experiences and challenges you’ll need to be aware of.
Here are some things to consider.
Nausea and fatigue are very common during early pregnancy. Although going out for a run might be the last thing you feel like doing, exercise can actually make you feel better. Make sure you aren’t pushing yourself too hard, but if you can get yourself out the door for even a short run, you’ll feel better and have more energy for the rest of the day. The fresh air from an outdoor run can also help relieve nausea.
As your belly grows, your centre of gravity also changes, leaving you more vulnerable to slips and falls. So be careful. Also as your pregnancy progresses, your pace is likely to slow down considerably. As the baby grows, your diaphragm has less room to move, which leads to shortness of breath. That can be mentally tough, but just keep in mind that whether you can run a 4-minute km or 8-minute km, the fact that you’re continuing to exercise has positive benefits for you and your baby!
As long as you listen to your body, running can be a wonderful part of a healthy pregnancy, so have fun and enjoy every stride!
2. Abdominal Exercises
There are certain abdominal exercises that are not recommended during pregnancy but this by no means is not the case for all ab exercises.
There are a number of safe and effective exercises that are a must for any mum to be.
I can’t stress enough the importance of keeping your core muscles strong before, during and after pregnancy. These are the muscles that support your whole inner unit, assist with delivery and can help keep back ache at bay; Especially with the extra weight of that precious bundle you may be carrying around.
Using a Fitball is a fantastic way to work your abs. Sitting on the ball, lying supine with legs resting on the ball (read Exercise and Pregnancy: A Reality Check, Chapter 1 for more info), leaning on the ball against a wall or using the ball to support the head and upper back with feet on the ground, are all positions that are safe and comfortable for ab exercises throughout your pregnancy.
I mentioned above that there are certain ab exercises that are not recommended during pregnancy. When pregnant it’s important to give the rectus abdomini (six pack muscles) a rest in order to give your baby space to grow.
A traditional crunch exercise may put undue strain on the rectus muscles which are stretched over the growing uterus. Also rectus separation may be accentuated with this form of abdominal exercise.
Similarly sit back cycling, sit back V holds, crunch hold with legs tabletop, alternate knee or toe (straight or bent legs) touches and partner crunches with medicine ball are not advisable abdominal exercises during or directly after pregnancy.