I love teaching exercise to pregnant women. It’s an incredibly rewarding client group to teach, and at the end of the day, the end goal for each and every mum-to-be is giving birth to a beautiful bundle of joy, and that’s actually pretty exciting!
When it comes to childbirth itself, for some expectant mums, labour itself is fairly straightforward. For others though, it can be described as possibly one of the most physically demanding events you’ll ever experience. You know me well – I don’t sugar coat things, and I make you work out at a reasonable level of intensity during my pregnancy fitness and pregnancy Pilates classes. This is to help benefit you not just during pregnancy, but actually what I’m trying to do is prepare your body for labour. That’s my job as an Ante/Postnatal Fitness Expert.
If you’d like to have an Active Birth, when you go into labour, you’ll be encouraged to move about and shift around into different positions to help you cope with the contractions. So, during an Active Birth, you may be standing up leaning against a wall for a few minutes, then progress to sitting on a birthing ball to help release the discomfort in your back You may then try a deep squat for a while to help widen the pelvis, and/or then step down onto your hands and knees to give your legs a bit of a break.
So, if you go through that list of positions again, it’s obvious that you need to adopt a full-body approach when it comes to exercising during pregnancy, isn’t it? Labour isn’t just hard work on your cardiovascular system, it also requires endurance and a significant amount of strength in your arms, legs and abdominals. A client recently emailed me to say she’d had her baby but had no idea how much she’d use her arms during labour, and she put the fact that she was able to withstand labour for a long time cardiovascularly, down to her attending my Bump to Babe classes, so there you go!
Contrary to belief, babies don’t just pop out when you sneeze. It’d be great if they did though, eh?! Have you ever thought about which muscles help guide baby out through the birth canal itself? Have a think for a moment… You guessed it, it’s your pelvic floor that directs baby out, and although this isn’t discussed at antenatal education classes very much, it’s actually your abdominal muscles that help you during the pushing stage of labour.
So, so far I’ve mentioned your arms and your legs, your pelvic floor and your abdominals. I’m here to tell you it’s vital that you also train your heart and lungs too, because the fitter you remain during pregnancy, the better positioned your CV system will be in to withstand labour for longer.
You wouldn’t go out and run a marathon having done no training beforehand and I can’t stress enough how important it is that you adopt this same approach during pregnancy. Stay active, keep strong and work those core and pelvic floor muscles as I instruct you in class.
If you’re not currently doing a lot of aerobic activity, or nothing structured for pregnancy which focuses on your arms/legs/pelvic floor/abdominals etc mentioned above, click here to come along and work out with other mums-to-be or click here, if you’d prefer to do a workout in the comfort of your own home.