We all know how hard it can be to exercise regularly, and without doubt the many physical and physiological changes that take place within a women’s body during pregnancy can make this even more challenging (especially in the cold months!).
Some changes which affect exercise during pregnancy
During pregnancy, the hormones oestrogen, progesterone and relaxin impact on many systems within the body. The respiratory system experiences an increased need for oxygen, and as you approach term, this can be up to 20%. As a consequence, the system works harder to lower levels of carbon dioxide, and this can cause breathlessness during physical activity. Changes to the cardiovascular system include increased heart rate and a rise in body temperature, and later in pregnancy oedema of the ankles, feet and hands. Changes to the musculoskeletal system, impact upon ligaments and joints. Joints and ligaments become softer and have increased susceptibility to stress, especially those that bear weight.
These changes take place in preparation for the changes your body will undergo throughout your pregnancy, labour and birth. Your body is equipped to deal with these changes, however, it is important to consider them when planning and implementing an exercise routine during pregnancy. Regular exercise at least three times a week is recommended. Low impact exercise such as walking, swimming, pilates and yoga are considered safest during pregnancy. If you have had a regular exercise regime prior to pregnancy, it would be advised to check this with Dr Morris or the midwives to ensure that what you have been doing is appropriate for your current pregnancy.
Monitoring your heart rate
When doing aerobic exercises, you should have a target zone for your heart rate. The target zone will depend upon your age and your exercise routine.
If you had a sedentary lifestyle prior to pregnancy, you will probably be advised of a maximum heart rate of sixty to seventy percent above your normal rate. If you are aiming to maintain fitness during pregnancy, then the upper limit of sixty to ninety percent of maximum heart rate will be advised. You should check your heart rate regularly while exercising to ensure that you do not exceed your target zone. To check this, you need to be able to take your pulse. This is because your pulse rate tells you how many times your heart beats. Your healthcare professional should show you how to take your pulse accurately. Information can be found at http://www.strokeheart.org/CYPA/check.html
Source: Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists 2006.
What is it?
Yoga stems from the ancient Yogi belief that in order to be in harmony with oneself, we must integrate the body, mind and spirit. Yoga is formulated with three main elements: Exercise, breathing and meditation.
Why is it beneficial during pregnancy?
There are multiple benefits for participating in yoga during pregnancy.
When combined with cardiovascular exercise, it can be an ideal way to stay fit during your pregnancy. Yoga helps to tone muscles and increase flexibility with minimal impact upon your joints.
Yoga is also beneficial in it’s preparation for the physical demands of labour and birth. When we are anxious and afraid, our bodies produce adrenalin, which can inhibit vital hormones needed to progress through labour. Breathing techniques taught during yoga focus on deep breathing and relaxation, which may then assist progression of labour when the time comes.
Of course, there are precautions, which need to be taken when exercising, and this is particularly important when pregnant. Movements that stretch the abdomen too much should be avoided, as the relaxin in your system makes you more prone to tears in this area. Laying flat on your back should also be avoided after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
Yoga essentially teaches you to awaken the intelligence of your body and put you in touch with your intuition. It provides preparation for your birth which is truly empowering.
At Dr Morris | Sydney Mother & Baby, we offer a selection of prenatal yoga classes for you to choose from throughout your pregnancy. We offer 4 different classes to suit your personal needs in our beautifully renovated room on level 2 of BMA house, equipped with mats, bolsters and props to make your experience as comfortable as possible. Classes are taught by Portia, our in-house prenatal yoga teacher.
Please visit our website for more details and class timetables: https://www.drmorris.com.au/antenatal-education/