Exercising Restraint


One of the things I found most challenging during my pregnancy and still find challenging post birth is having an exercise routine, or lack there of. 

Prior to becoming pregnant I was riding to work every day, getting up before dawn and doing three Step Into Life sessions a week as well as playing netball once a week.  I was the fittest I had ever been.

Being blessed with a trouble free pregnancy, I found that having to modify and reduce my exercise was one of the things that caused me constant frustration and worry.  Which advice should I follow or believe?  Was I over doing it?  Is my baby ok?

The pregnancy books only briefly covered exercise.  So I bought the book Fit Pregnancy for Dummies, but found it was primarily aimed at people wanting to start up a new fitness regime.  Apart from some general rules, there was not so much information for those wanting to adjust an existing routine.  I also heard different things from different people, for example I was told that it was advisable not to do any sit ups as these would cause my abdominal muscles to separate. Perhaps there was enough information around, it just did not give me the answers I wanted, it was all too restrictive.

In the end, the two pieces of advice I tried to stick to were:
1. Keep your heart rate below 140bpm
2. If you were doing it before it is okay to keep going with it (within reason)

For me, this meant that any running was at a very slow – almost walking – jog.  And that I had to look a little pathetic on the bike,  letting everyone pass me on my cycle home, as well as walking up any steep hills.  Keeping the heart rate down was very difficult when I was used to going at any pace I liked.  It is important to keep your heart rate down as it prevents the baby’s heartrate from going to fast and also prevents them from over heating.  My heart rate monitor became my best friend.

In the end I cycled to work until 7 months and kept up toning classes with Step Into Life until the end of 8 months.  In particular, toning classes using a fitball (Swiss ball) were good in the last couple of months (less getting down on the floor), and I continued doing stomach crunches for most of those classes.  A really supportive and well informed trainer also helps no end.  I only stopped because I moved house. 

In the last few weeks of my pregnancy Jade was in a posterior orientation as well as overdue.  To help things along I did a lot of walking and swam every second day.  I really enjoyed the swimming and wished I had started doing it earlier in the pregnancy.  Several people have told me walking helps with the delivery a lot as well.

I have no doubt that being fit beforehand allowed me to to continue exercising once pregnant, and contributed to having a healthy pregnancy and child.  At a guess, it probably helped with the 16 hour labour too.  Another one of those things that is helpful to think about way before getting pregnant.

Four months on now, I am still yet to get back to proper exercise.  I have tried to go for a walk most days, but it is not the same.  At the hospital they said no serious exercise until 6 weeks after birth.  Then later I heard 12 weeks to be sure.  It is advisable to be careful early on as high impact exercise can cause permanent damage while your pelvic muscles are still weak (Pilates is ideal to help with this). 

I am keen to get back to Step Into Life classes, but fitting it in with baby & dad’s work schedules is tricky.  So this Thursday I am going to give Bay City Strollers a go.  Exercise classes outdoors which specialise in pre and post natal women, plus you can bring your baby and tend to them if they need it… perfect!  Will let you know how it goes.


%d bloggers like this: