Inside your pregnant body

Extract from the 3-plan

There are lots of changes going on in your body during pregnancy; these do not mean that you can’t be active, but there are a few things to bear in mind..

Be reassured:

Cool as a cucumber – During pregnancy your core temperature rises by approx 0.6 degrees celsius. Your sweat point lowers enabling you to effectively dissipate heat from you and your baby. This, along with a slightly elevated breathing rate means that you have a fab cooling mechanism and overheating is unlikely.

Go with the flow – Cardio exercise will not compromise blood flow to your baby. Provided you are working out at a sensible intensity and not for too long (i.e. over an hour) your body will always direct blood to your baby ahead of your working muscles. Stop if your muscles feel particularly fatigued.

Added bonus – You are still getting all the ‘normal’ benefits of exercise in addition to all the additional ones in relation to pregnancy. You’ll be boosting your immune system, improving your cardiovascular and muscle fitness and endurance, releasing endorphins and hopefully improving your body image.

Put your hands up! – It has been stated in the past that you shouldn’t raise your hands above shoulder height in later pregnancy in case the umbilical cord may wrap around your baby’s neck. This is complete rubbish. You can carry on doing this as long as it is comfortable.

Don’t count on it – The old school of thought used to be that your heart rate during exercise should not go above 140BPM during pregnancy. There’s no right or wrong, every woman is different. A bit of a sweat is ok, but make sure you keep your effort level moderate at around 60-70% of your maximum heart rate. Don’t measure your heart rate, go by how you feel.

Be aware:

Back in action – If you lay on your back (supine) when your bump is getting bigger it may affect blood flow (by putting pressure on your vena cava), making you feel light headed. This is called supine hypotensive syndrome. Avoid laying on your back for any length of time and try alternative side and seated positions for exercising.

Full of hot air – During pregnancy your demand for oxygen increases, which means your breathing rate goes up. Later in pregnancy it also becomes harder to get a large breath as your belly expands. Take this into consideration and moderate your workout intensity so you can breathe comfortably.

Huff and puff – Progesterone is a hormone that relaxes smooth muscle and makes you more sensitive to CO2. This may mean your breathing rate increases and you get puffed out more quickly. If you do then moderate your intensity.

Working overtime – Your resting heart rate (HR) and blood pumped per beat will increase. This means that you should moderate your cardio activity as your pregnancy progresses. Keep it up, but make sure you are working at a sensible intensity and not pushing yourself too hard. Also, warm up gradually and should steadily decrease intensity at the end of your workout to bring your heart and breathing rates down gently.

Joint effort – The hormone relaxin relaxes (as you expect!) your muscles, joints and ligaments, uterus and cervix; this allows your pelvis to open up when your baby is born. Unfortunately it also affects all your other joints. This doesn’t mean you have to put your feet up, just be aware you may be a bit more unsteady and prone to injury during pregnancy so avoid lots of jumps, twists and tricky footwork.

Vascular underfill – (What?!) When you are first pregnant your body becomes less able to quickly divert your blood to where it is needed. This can make you feel dizzy and faint. If you do, adapt your exercise and avoid quick and frequent transitions (floor to standing etc) and being still for long periods.