Six months pregnant Jenny Wright recently caused controversy whilst out jogging in her local park. Critics claimed that such strenuous exercise is selfish and reckless and accused her of putting her vanity before her unborn child.
In light of this, Sports shoes decided to investigate the facts and interviewed some qualified pregnancy and postnatal fitness instructors to ask for their thoughts. They agreed that prenatal fitness is very important to get right and warned that running can do a pregnant woman more harm than good because they produce a hormone called relaxing which affects the whole body and allows for pelvic and cervical expansion. The baby can lie heavily on her pelvic floor and there is a danger that the bouncing motion of running will cause the pelvic muscles to overstretch, which can lead to stress incontinence.
Trainer Margarita Bennett stresses that pregnant women can really benefit from exercise such as speed walking, Pilates and strength training as this encourages good posture and gets the body ready for the endurance marathon that is birth. She says “You will really benefit from training your muscles this way; it can help with constipation, blood pressure and weight gain.”
Once a woman has given birth it’s important to wait for the green light from the doctor before exercising. The time varies but is roughly 6 weeks, or 12 weeks after a C-section. After this, exercise should be gentle but it is vital. Margarita says, “After birth, everything has stretched out like a balloon so there is nothing holding you up. Poor core stability impacts everything and can make everything ache and many women suffer lower back pain. Core stability exercises can really help to knit you back together but sit-ups are a definite no-no as they can exacerbate the problem. “
Buggy fit trainer, Kelly Basset, points out that getting fit after birth is personal and depends on the woman and the delivery. She says, “Work with someone qualified. It helps to have someone look at your posture, for example many women who walk with a pram bend too far forward and take the pressure on their shoulders. It is better to have hips to the handles. Pilates is fantastic for getting your belly back.”
Kelly recommends being cautious about running for at least 6 months after birth. “You don’t have to run to get a cardiovascular workout, instead do deep squats, bicep curls, lunges and uphill power.” She advises trying to breastfeed before exercise and wearing a good sports bra and comfortable running shoes.
The experts understand that it’s hard to build motivation to exercise when you have a family to run and are exhausted from lack of sleep. However, achieving a healthy level of postnatal fitness can be worth the effort when you consider the benefits:
- The release of endorphins can help improve postnatal depression
- It allows you an hour a day to focus on yourself
- Physical activity combats the pregnancy stress hormone Cortisol, which makes you crave sugary foods
- Exercise is a good reason to get out of the house and get some fresh air
- Your energy levels will improve
- Strengthening your core helps prevent later injuries
- Joining fitness clubs like Buggy fit will mean you meet new people and can compare notes with other mothers
Sophie Tanner works with sports shoes.com which was established in 1982. With over 25 years experience in the business, sportsshoes.com is committed to providing the widest range of best-value products and all staff have the knowledge and experience to understand the needs of athletes of all standards and levels.