It would not be far from the truth to say that in pregnancy you become public property: suddenly everyone has an opinion and advice is dished out whether or not it was asked for. From what to eat, to the size of your bump – too big too small – judgment is passed on almost everything.

In the general clamour of views being expressed, it can be hard for expectant mothers to know where to turn for sound advice, what to ignore, and what to take heed of.

This confusion isn’t helped by pregnant celebrities frequently hitting the headlines when they disclose the latest pregnancy exercise regime they are following. So what are the rules of engagement when it comes to pregnancy fitness?

RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU

Rule 1

Contraindications to exercise in early pregnancy

The one hard and fast rule is that there are certain absolute contraindications to exercise in early pregnancy and these must be observed. Contraindications in early pregnancy include pregnancy-induced high blood pressure, a weak or incompetent cervix, persistent bleeding, serious heart or respiratory disease and Type 1 diabetes that is poorly controlled.

Rule 2

There is rarely a one-size-fits-all to pregnancy exercise.

Every woman will come to pregnancy with her pre-existing fitness levels, BMI, eating habits and so on. Bearing this in mind there is little point in telling a seasoned marathon runner who is fit and well that she must now stop running and switch to pregnancy yoga. Contraindications permitting, she can usefully carry on running. At the other end of the spectrum, a woman who has, up until the start of pregnancy, being sedentary will need to build up her pregnancy fitness levels in a measured, gentle manner that is low impact.

Rule 3

Sickness

If sickness is not a problem and no contraindications have been identified, most women can carry on in early pregnancy with the exercise they were doing pre-conceptually. This might be running, biking, bootcamp, fitness classes, spin classes, martial arts or even the much debated CrossFit.

If…

A) these were activities being consistently done pre-pregnancy

B) the woman doing the exercise is not placing undue pressure on herself to keep going and

C) she feels fine during and after the exercise (i.e. not depleted) then she can carry on. On the other hand, if the body is clearly saying “please stop” then the key thing is to listen to this and, indeed, stop.

Rule 4

Avoid taking up new forms of exercise

A general rule of thumb is to avoid taking up new forms of exercise during pregnancy. A newly pregnant woman who has no history of regular exercise but wishes to build her fitness for her own wellbeing and that of her baby, would be ill-advised to start jogging, for example.

Instead, initiating and gradually intensifying a regular daily walking regime is simply building on an activity that her body is already used to.

Rule 5

During early pregnancy, both tiredness and morning sickness are prevalent, even amongst women with perfectly healthy pregnancies, and so many women find it hard to exercise, and in the case of hyperemesis, impossible.

Strategies such as eating a small snack before exercising, keeping hydrated, exercising at a comfortable intensity, and choosing to exercise at moments of the day when sickness is reduced, may all help. If these strategies do not work, then it is important not to push things. The likelihood is that sickness will subside in the second trimester and exercise can then be resumed.

exercise in early pregnancy-02

Rule 6

The Knack

Use early pregnancy to learn how to perform The Knack. The ability to exercise the pelvic floor muscles correctly and build up pelvic floor strength and flexibility is key, and early pregnancy is the best time to make this into a daily habit. The so-called Knack takes advantage of the fact that we repeatedly sit down and get up from a chair every day by preparing and using the pelvic floor correctly every time we perform this movement.

How to:

1. Sit tall with good posture and feet firmly planted on floor between hip and shoulder width apart.

2. Now inhale and then exhale whilst simultaneously fully relaxing your pelvic floor muscles (PFMs).

3. This time, inhale and then as you exhale draw inwards and upwards on your PFMs whilst simultaneously rising to a standing position (no hands allowed! i.e. use your leg muscles to lift yourself up).

To sit down simply repeat in reverse:

1. Stand tall with good posture and feet firmly planted on floor between hip and shoulder width apart

2. Now inhale and then exhale whilst simultaneously fully relaxing your pelvic floor muscles (PFMs).

3. This time, inhale and then as you exhale draw inwards and upwards on your PFMs whilst simultaneously seating yourself, ensuring that your back is in a long, neutral position.

Sticking to these 6 key rules of early pregnancy fitness will not only stand expectant mothers in good stead for the rest of their antenatal journey but will also help ensure a speedy and full postnatal recovery.

WatchFit Experts change lives!

And they can do the same for you.

Expert:

Pollyanna Hale Health and Lifestyle coaches
Lost 13 Kg in Total
Mel, 32y Location: London, United Kingdom Working with Pollyanna changed everything. I lost 13kg, got toned and have more energy than ever! Get same results!

Expert:

Chriz Zaremba Fitness Consultant
Lost 45 Kg in Total
Chris, 50y Location: London, United Kingdom Lost 45kg after the age of 50 and now competes and wins physique competitions and runs marathons Check our weight loss plans