We get asked this question a lot:
"Should I cancel my gym membership now I'm pregnant?"
Short answer, no! Experts recommend that all healthy pregnant women should aim for at least 30 minutes exercise on at least five days a week to enjoy a whole raft of benefits from easing pregnancy niggles such as back ache or varicose veins to lifting your mood and making it easier to sleep. Improved fitness levels will help with your strength and stamina during labour and speed up the recovery process after your baby is born too.
But is it ok to carry on using the gym?
Lots of women ask us if it's still ok to use the gym during pregnancy and some gyms are still very apprehensive about the sight of a pregnant woman on the treadmill and other gym users can be quite judgemental about seeing a woman exercising with a baby bump. But whilst we would recommend adapting and reducing the intensity of your training regime during pregnancy there's no reason why you shouldn't exercise safely in the gym for as long as you feel comfortable to do so.
FittaMamma's top tips for working out in a gym:
- Listen to your body - if an exercise feels uncomfortable, or makes you feel out of breath or dizzy it's time to slow down or stop.
- Don't aim to progress your exercise regime, this is a time to maintain your fitness, not strive for improvement
- Make sure you warm up and cool down before and after your workout - it's even more important when you're exercising for two
- It's better to use lighter weights with more repetitions - reduce the resistance levels as your pregnancy progresses
- There's always a choice of exercise options in a gym so make use of them! If one exercise or cardio-machine in the gym doesn't work for you, simply move on.
- Choose supportive maternity fitnesswear - it will make you feel more comfortable and improve your self-esteem too!
- Stay hydrated - keep a water bottle handy throughout your workout!
- Stay fuelled - don't exercise on any empty stomach and keep a snack handy
- The treadmill is great for cardio fitness but remember, not so far and not so fast. If you have to slow down to walking - that's fine, you're still getting the benefit of the exercise
- Static cycling is an excellent low impact activity with no balance or road hazards - just make sure the seat is correctly adjusted and expect to reduce your speeds
- Step machines and cross trainers are safe to use during pregnancy but if you feel any pelvic pain - simply stop and move on
- Avoid lying flat on your back after the first trimester - if you're using a bench set it an angle that supports your back comfortably
- Don't lift any weights that could fall onto your abdomen
- Do make sure the instructors at the gym are aware of your pregnancy and consult your midwife or doctor if you have any concerns
If you're a regular fitness gym goer and exercise fan don't be put off continuing to use the gym and adapting your workout for pregnancy. There is also no reason why beginners shouldn't start a gentle pregnancy workout programme using standard gym equipment. Plenty of pregnant women exercise right up until their due date and enjoy all the benefits of staying fit during pregnancy!
It's worth investing in supportive clothes to wear to the gym - not just for your own self-esteem but also to hold your bump secure. Clothes with moisture wicking content (such as CoolDry) will help maintain your body at the right temperature too.