Fit Pregnancy Series – A workout plan for your first trimester
You should always consult your doctor or midwife before undertaking any kind of exercise programme during pregnancy. Chances are if you are having a low risk/uncomplicated pregnancy, then you will be fine to go ahead.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) say that moderate to high intensity physical activity will not harm an expectant mum or her unborn child and at least 30 minutes per day of moderate intensity activity is recommended. Remember every woman and every pregnancy is different! When doing any activity while pregnant, make sure you listen to your body and stop if you feel uncomfortable.
Benefits of exercise during pregnancy
Exercise in pregnancy has a wealth of benefits and is the perfect time to make regular exercise part of your life! Possible benefits include:
– A shorter labour with less likelihood of complications – I had quite enjoyable pregnancies with no sick days from work, straightforward and short labours (both under 5 hours), vaginal deliveries and a very quick recovery – I was active within a couple of days!
– Less likely to suffer from nausea and morning sickness
– Improved core strength and stability
– A stronger back and reduction in back pain
– Better posture
– Stronger pelvic floors
– Better circulation, less likely to suffer from varicose veins, swelling and high blood pressure
– Stronger bones
– Avoid excessive weight gain and easier to get back into shape after the birth
– More energy and self confidence – lift your mood and feel great!
– Strengthen the muscles used in childbirth
– It will help you sleep
– Improved cardio-vascular fitness and muscle tone
– Lessen the likelihood of developing gestational diabetes
How you might be feeling in trimester 1
Although you won’t look especially different in trimester 1, you’ll be feeling very different! During the first three months of pregnancy, the chances are you will feel pretty shattered. In addition to tiredness, you may feel sick and be suffering from heartburn, constipation and achy boobs. You might also feel as though you are spending a lot of time on the loo and be quite windy – thhrrrruummp!
Remember, doing some activity may help ease some of these early symptoms, so do your best to stick to your exercise plan. Exercise can actually give you more energy! You are not limited by your body shape in this first trimester, so try to continue exercising if you enjoy it. Try some outdoor or new activities to give your exercise plan a real boost.
This is the start of the rest of your life, so try and enjoy it! What better time to improve your health and fitness than on your journey into motherhood?
How to plan a workout plan during pregnancy
Trimester 1 safety
You can still do more or less what you were doing before you became pregnant, just use your common sense – nothing very high intensity or dangerous. If you are completely new to exercise, start by walking and swimming, starting some gentle resistance training in Trimester 2.
Start working your core abs now – Get to know your TVA!
That what?! The TVA (transversus abdominis) is the deepest abdominal muscle, which you can think of as the body’s own internal corset. You can activate it simply by first breathing in deeply and letting your chest expand, then as you exhale, pulling in your tummy all the way round (as if you are wearing a corset!) and holding it in for a couple of seconds, then releasing. Make sure as you do so you can still breathe deeply and slowly. Getting control over the TVA and working it as often as possible is key to having a flat tum after you have had your baby. Do these ab squeezes as often as possible! Aim for 50 a day.
Pay attention to your pelvic floors
The pelvic floor muscles are located between your legs, and run from your pubic bone at the front to the base of your spine at the back. They give you control over your bladder and can be weakened by having children. But fear not! By doing some simple, regular exercise you will be able to strengthen them. Not only will these exercises help your bladder control, they may also increase the pleasure of having sex – so get started! While doing any pelvic floor exercises, put your hands on your belly and buttocks to make sure you can’t feel your belly, thighs, or buttocks moving (unless exercise specifies otherwise). Breathe normally and relax all other muscles. Don’t squeeze your knees together or tense any other part of your body. A quick way of finding the right muscles is by trying to stop the flow of urine when you’re in the toilet and the correct movement is an upward and inward contraction. Don’t make a habit of this though as it is not good for you! Try to do pelvic floor exercises 5-7 times a week (or more often if you can!) Make it easy for yourself – at work, on the bus or sitting watching TV. Here are a couple of ideas. Aim for 50 a day.
10 Minute Workout for Trimester One
Enjoy our exercises for pregnant women designed to fit into a busy lifestyle. These exercises will help maintain your fitness in pregnancy although ideally they should be part of a longer routine that includes some cardiovascular exercise as well. Now is a good time to establish a regular exercise routine and a sensible diet during pregnancy to help maintain your ideal pregnancy weight, optimum fitness levels and a healthy pregnancy! Remember to warm up and cool down and follow the instructions for your fitness level.
1. Squat and rotate (2 x 3kg weights)
This lower-body exercise is all about getting the basic squat technique right. This will really tone and strengthen your legs.
1. Stand with your feet about hip-width apart.
2. Hold a weight in each hand, with your arms bent and the weights just in front of your chest.
3. Pull in your abs and keep them tight as you bend your knees and slowly squat, keeping your arms still. Hover, keeping your chin and chest lifted.
4. Push through to lift up and begin straightening your legs. Fully extend your legs until you’re back to standing position, but keep your knees soft. As you push up, slowly rotate, twisting from your waist and looking over your shoulder. Always keep your knees in line with your toes and your hands just above your chest. Come back to centre and repeat to the other side.
Repeat 15–20 times (twist to alternate sides) and do two sets.
Easier: Smaller twist, no weights, shallow squat
Harder: Deeper squat, heavier weights, bigger twist – look over your shoulder, add hold in the lowest squat position for ten seconds to finish
2. Upright row (2 x 3kg weights)
Great for strengthening your shoulders and arms– these will need to be strong for carrying your baby around.
1. Hold a weight in each hand with your arms bent and the weights positioned together, your knuckles facing the ground. Stand up straight with your feet hip-width apart.
2. Keeping the weights close to your body, lift them to your chest (midline) level, leading with the elbows.
3. Slowly lower the weights to the starting position. Take care not to round your spine when lifting and keep the action smooth and continuous.
Repeat 15–20 times and do two sets.
Easier: Lighter weights
Harder: Heavier weights, then add a set of shoulder pushes at the end
3. Abdominal hollowing on all-fours
This will work your core muscles in a slightly different way and is a good pelvic floor exercise too. On your hands and knees, using a mat, make sure your hands are beneath your shoulders, your knees are hip-width apart and your back and neck are straight.
1. Breathe in deeply and let your chest expand. Then as you exhale, draw your belly button in, sucking in your abs all the way around your middle and pulling up your pelvic floor
2. Hold for a couple of seconds, then release. Make sure you don’t arch your back as you pull in.
Repeat 15–20 times and do two sets.