Pregnancy and exercise – what you should know

Serena Williams won the Australian Open while pregnant, yet there’s still conflicting advice on what exercise you can do with a bun in the oven.

Personal trainer Jess Barro shares what you can do and should do, and what to steer clear of.

Ramp it up before you get pregnant

Not only can exercise help you get to and maintain a healthy weight, it can improve your chances of conceiving.

Already being fit can also enable you to keep a steady level of fitness during your pregnancy, which can help mitigate stress and strengthen your body ahead of the birth.

“There are so many benefits to doing exercise and having a base level of fitness before you get pregnant, because generally you can continue with that throughout your pregnancy,” says the Melbourne-based mum.

Be realistic about your current level of fitness

If you didn’t know a kettlebell from a dumbbell going into your pregnancy, these nine months are not the time to get acquainted with them.

“If you haven’t been exercising consistently before getting pregnant, your body hasn’t been attuned to it,” says Jess, of Motivate Me Fitness.

This can put stress on your body, so don’t try to get too #fitspo while pregnant if you’re not already fit.

Do what you can

Gentle forms of exercise can be done by most people, whether you’re a gym junkie or consider LOLs a form of ab burner.

Jess recommends moderate exercise, such as walking and riding a stationary bike, as a way to get moving during your pregnancy.

Concerned you’re pushing too hard?

“You need to watch your heart rate and that your body doesn’t overheat; those are the two key areas to watch throughout pregnancy,” says Jess.

Adapt to each trimester

Jess points out that not only is every woman unique and therefore each case different, the trimesters also greatly vary in how you feel and what you can do.

“Generally the first trimester is not so bad, but you would probably pull back on what you’ve been doing a little bit,” she says.

“Coming into the second trimester, you can’t lie on your back because you can get low blood pressure and pass out.”

Ab exercises such as planks, twists and crunches are not recommended from the second trimester onwards.

“Into the third trimester, you become quite heavy and you’ve got relaxant in your body so your muscles are stretchier than they used to be,” says Jess.

The perfect time for showing off in yoga, but keep it gentle and be careful not to overheat (so forget Bikram … for now).

Written by Samantha Allemann.