Q&A: Exercise during pregnancy
Nike and Barry’s Bootcamp trainer Anya shares her advice on exercising during pregnancy
As a Nike Elite trainer and Barry’s Bootcamp head trainer, Anya Lahiri knows a thing or two about keeping fit. And even at 38 weeks pregnant, she’s still going! She shares her advice and tips for staying active during pregnancy.
Has your workout regime changed in any way?
I have gradually had to alter my workouts as my pregnancy has progressed. This has mainly been due to the growing size of my bump getting in the way of my sprints and needing to pee more frequently due to pressure on my bladder.
I managed to maintain my normal exercise routine pretty much up until 32 weeks but have now had to reduce my running and have of course had to modify my ab exercises.
Are there any specific warm up moves, stretches or exercises that you would recommend or avoid while pregnant?
You need to be careful to warm up properly, make sure not to overheat, stay hydrated and stretch thoroughly after exercising. These are all things you would do when exercising normally but need to be more aware of whilst pregnant.
You are fine to continue your usual exercise program as long as you have been in the routine of doing it before pregnancy. You may have to reduce your weights and your running speed later on in the pregnancy as your centre of gravity will be off balance and your hormones may make you more prone to over-stretching and therefore injury.
You should always just listen to your body. Normally you might push through an hour of exercise even if your body is tired and it is the last thing you feel like. When you are pregnant you should really listen to those signals.
When you feel tired: rest. When you have energy: take the opportunity and do a class or go for a walk. Now is not the time to be setting yourself new challenges; it is the time to look after your body and nurture the baby inside you.
Is there anything to consider with regards to trimester and exercise?
Absolutely! In the first trimester it is very important not to overheat and to make sure your body temperature is regulated. You may also be struggling due to morning sickness and the tiredness that unfortunately comes with early pregnancy. Listen to your body and take rest when you need to, make sure you are fuelled and hydrated properly, and take regular breaks to keep your temperature down.
You are fine to continue with any existing exercise programmes that you have been doing but I would never advise starting something intense or challenging if you haven't been doing it beforehand.
After week 12 (second trimester) you need to be careful about abdominal exercises, especially crunches. Your abdominal muscles can begin to separate during pregnancy and you do not want to do anything to make this more severe. To be safe, I would avoid any type of crunch and modify to planks, side planks and standing ab exercises, which you can continue until the end of your pregnancy.
You should also avoid lying on your front, which may be impossible anyway due to your growing bump. Your energy levels should surge during the second trimester so it is actually a great time to continue your exercise routines and keep fit and healthy!
The third trimester starts to get a bit tricky as you and your bump get increasingly bigger. You will inevitably get more tired due to the extra weight you are carrying and your little one taking up most of your energy.
Running or anything high impact may be out of the question and can put extra strain on your pelvic floor muscles. You should certainly not be sprinting around, as your centre of gravity will also be off balance and you may find yourself bumping into things.
Reduce your running speeds or switch out the High Intensity Interval Training for a brisk walk. You should also be careful about how much weight you are lifting as the hormones your body produces (relaxin) to relax your joints and pelvis for child birth are in full throttle and mean anything that overexerts you may lead to injury.
If you haven't already, the third trimester is a great time to get involved in an ante-natal yoga class which will help you relax, tune into your body and your baby and stretch out your body ready for the big day.
When pregnant, what do you eat to make sure you fuel your body properly for workouts?
You should fuel your body in exactly the same way you would if you were exercising and not pregnant. Good carbohydrates to fuel your workouts and protein post class to mend the muscles you have been working. Pregnancy is not a time to start a diet and weight gain is a sign of a healthy baby so make sure you never go hungry and graze throughout the day.
Can you do a Barry’s Bootcamp when pregnant?
Barry's is a great workout to maintain throughout pregnancy. All the trainers are educated on how to modify for pregnancy dependent on the stage.
The split training days mean that you can choose the muscle groups you want to work, running is great for your cardiovascular health and endurance, and butt and legs day are going to be your best friend in the labour room. The squat position opens up your pelvis by 10 per cent, shortens the birth canal and the effects of gravity of course benefit the second stage of labour.