You’re pregnant – congratulations! You want to either start or continue exercising because you’re aware of the benefits for you and baby while doing so. Great!
The problem is, you search online for workout tips and discover a wealth of misleading information. Much of the advice is even conflicting.
Where to begin?
How do you decipher what is real vs. misinformation?
Unfortunately even some doctors are preaching outdated advice and while I would NEVER encourage anyone to go against their doctors advice, it doesn’t hurt to ask “why” they are making such recommendations. If they reference them as standard guidelines and not health specific concerns for your current situation, it may not hurt to get a second professional opinion.
I’ve broken down a few common myths to help you feel more comfortable putting your body into motion…
Heart rate must stay below 140 beats per minute during exercise.
This is outdated advice that was once provided by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), but was removed from their guidelines in 1994. Heart rates are naturally elevated while pregnant and you could easily exceed 140 beats per minute by just walking to your car. Therefore, relying on heart rate while pregnant is ineffective compared to other methods when tracking workout intensity. A better method would be to administer a self talk-test or using the Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale. You want to make sure that you feel good, are breathing heavier yet still able to communicate clearly in sentences, and are being moderately challenged.
Do not lift more than 10 pounds or you will harm the baby.
A properly designed strength training program can help reduce aches and pains that are commonly associated with pregnancy and offer a wealth of benefits to your growing pumpkin. If you’re just starting to incorporate weights, the above statement may be a better guideline to follow. However, if you’ve been exercising regularly prior to getting pregnant you can likely continue doing what you were doing before hand. You may need to reduce the amount of weight to account for changes in energy, mood and what feels good for your body. After all, being pregnant is not the time to attempt new PRs. Regardless of the weight chosen, it is important to remain in control of the weight, breathe properly throughout the movement while connecting with your pelvic floor, and maintain a strong supportive core.
Kegels alone will prevent diastasis recti and keep your pelvic floor strong.
Kegels can be a great addition to your routine while pregnant (or not). However, make sure you’re performing them correctly by working with a pelvic floor physiotherapist. Relying on kegels alone will not prevent diastasis recti or pelvic floor weakness. Walking, squatting, lunging, and thrusting are excellent for strengthening the pelvic floor and building a strong core throughout pregnancy.
Take it up a notch by performing a kegel during the movement. For example – inhale and release the kegel while lowering into a squat. Exhale and push through your heels while performing a kegel as you stand out of the squat.