You may be an avid exerciser who wants to keep active throughout your pregnancy. Or, you may be one of many women who want to start exercising and keep as fit and healthy as possible, now you know you are housing a growing baby.
Let’s dispel the myths... unless your doctor expressly advises against it, working out is not only safe, but beneficial in the first trimester. Exercise encourages a bigger, thicker placenta with better blood flow. As the placenta is the transport system taking nutrients and oxygen to the baby throughout the pregnancy it becomes obvious why having a healthier, stronger placenta is desirable. Having said that, exercise does need to be moderate and there are a few changes you should make as soon as you find out you are expecting.
For those who experience nausea or vomiting, headaches or tiredness, slowing down is something your body decides for you. These symptoms signify the chemical changes that are happening in you body – your hormones are adjusting and your blood vessels are increasing in size without the blood volume to match – yet. Try and stay lightly active even if it is just walking, swimming or gentle seated dumbbell exercises. Exercise can make you feel better, but be aware exercise does use the body’s water, glucose and salt supplies. Any changes in hydration, sugar or electrolyte levels can exacerbate morning sickness and other early pregnancy symptoms. Leading up to, after and even during exercise if needed, sip and nibble whatever you find most palatable. Staminade, diluted juice with a touch of salt, grapes or crackers are great options. The secret is not to wait for symptoms to start and then try to deal with them , but to pre-empt them.
The lucky lot who have few or no symptoms may not even physically feel like they are pregnant. However, it is important to remember that the baby’s central nervous system is forming in the first trimester, so you don’t want any increases in core temperature. This does not mean you cannot get a bit hot and lightly huff and puff. Although, if you start to feel that creeping heat feeling up your neck, a claustrophobic heat or racy heart, you need to stop, rest, fan yourself and drink water. Obviously prevention is better than cure. Go into your session well hydrated, wear lighter clothes and avoid exercising in very hot conditions, or in the hottest part of the day.
Remember, nature ensured your body could send you messages. If your body says I’m too tired today, or I need to eat right now in the middle of a session... listen. Experts are there to give you a bit more information to keep you and your baby safe and active. They are also there to let you know which forms of exercise will have the most benefit as your needs have changed for the immediate future.