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Exercising during pregnancy and postpartum

Exercising during pregnancy and postpartum

If you are a mum to be, or a new mum then you might be wondering how you can best move your body during each stage of this incredible journey. At Four, we work alongside women who are pregnant and postnatal every day, and we are trained in prescribing safe and effective exercise to suit each stage. 

We also offer prenatal and postpartum reformer Pilates classes. These are both tailored towards what your body needs to stay strong, healthy and happy and are run by our women’s health physios and Pilates instructors.

Grace Coombs ·
~4 minute read

If you are a mum to be, or a new mum then you might be wondering how you can best move your body during each stage of this incredible journey. At Four, we work alongside women who are pregnant and postnatal every day, and we are trained in prescribing safe and effective exercise to suit each stage.

We also offer prenatal and postpartum reformer Pilates classes. These are both tailored towards what your body needs to stay strong, healthy and happy and are run by our women’s health physios and Pilates instructors.

Exercising during pregnancy

The current guidelines suggest that if you are safe to do so, that exercising during pregnancy is beneficial for both you (mum) and your growing baby. It helps to reduce back pain, ease constipation, promote healthy weight gain, reduce risk of gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia, improve fitness and overall just makes you feel good! 

What type of exercise should you doing, and for how long?

  • Ideally 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week

  • Moderate intensity means you are working hard, however you should still be able to hold a conversation and should not be short of breath.

  • This should include a combination of aerobic exercise such as walking or swimming, and resistance training such as strength work or Pilates

  • If you are new to exercise then start slow and progress gradually up to this amount

What muscle groups are best to focus on with resistance training?

  • During pregnancy there are many physical changes that occur. Each of these changes alters the way that you move, your posture and the way that your muscles work. 

  • Focus areas should include the upper back muscles to help with posture, the hips and gluteal muscles to help with pelvic stability and lower back support, and the pelvic floor muscles. 

  • In saying that, performing well rounded exercise programs is always beneficial and so adding in upper and lower body movements is also advised. 

  • Core work should be modified and it is best to speak to your women’s health physio around what is best to do at each stage of your pregnancy. 

As always, listen to your body - if something doesn’t feel right stop immediately and speak to your doctor or midwife. 

Returning to exercise postpartum

Returning to exercise once baby has been born is always exciting! Many women are keen to start getting back into the different types of movement that they enjoyed pre pregnancy. This might include returning to running, team sports or the gym postpartum. 

At Four, we always suggest that you are cleared by a women’s health physiotherapist (as well as your doctor) prior to starting any form of exercise. This is important as your pelvic floor muscles, abdominal muscles and joints/tendons/ligaments all need time to recover and build strength after delivery. This is the same for both vaginal deliveries and caesareans. 

  1. Always listen to your body. Remember that all pregnancies, deliveries and postnatal recoveries are different. If something doesn’t feel right, or you are noticing new symptoms such as incontinence, prolapse symptoms or pain - stop and speak to a health professional. 

  2. Hormonal changes - during the fourth trimester there are many hormonal changes that occur. One of these is a temporary reduction in oestrogen, particularly if you are breastfeeding. Oestrogen is important for bone and muscle recovery, vaginal health and energy/mood. Being mindful of this during a return to exercise plan is important.

  3. Breast support - it is important that you have adequate breast support prior to re-commencing any impact or jumping based exercise. 

  4. Footwear - during pregnancy, many women find that the shape and size of their feet may change. Prior to starting back with exercise, make sure that your footwear still fits correctly and if not speak to your local podiatrist for advice. 

We offer postnatal reformer Pilates classes (MAMAS) here at Four. These are a great way to rebuild your strength and stability postpartum, in a supervised small group setting. The bonus is that you can bring your bub along to the class as your own personal cheerleader!

We also work alongside some great pre/postnatal personal trainers and would be happy to pass on their details as well for those who are interested.

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