Ayyyiyyyiiii! So many women are caught up with all these things “they’ve heard” about exercising when pregnant. A few blogs ago I mentioned a number of the benefits from exercising when pregnant. So hopefully you get it by now! For this blog I want to clear the air on some of the myths you may have heard about exercising when pregnant, as well inform you on some hormonal changes that are going on.
Top 6 Myths:
1.You can only exercise 3x.week.
The ACOG Guidelines recommends 30 minutes or more or moderate exercise daily. ACSM recommends 5 or more times a week. Only 16% of pregnant women actually do the recommended amount…
2. If you exercise your baby will be born with a low birth weight.
Low birth weight consists of a baby weighing less than 5lbs 8oz. A baby born to mom’s who exercise typically just have less fat than an average baby born to a mom who does not exercise! That’s all!
3. You will go into pre-term labor.
Exercise actually helps move labor along so it is quick and more efficient! Think about it this way-if you are active and lead an active and healthy lifestyle, always on the go and energetic, chances are your labor is going to be faster and more efficient since your body is more efficient! Makes sense right?! AND, the opposite goes. If you are a sedentary person who lies around all day and eats poorly…well you can expect your labor to be similar in nature. FYI-typically when you go through labor a second time it is faster than the first time, so think about all the good you are doing your body just by exercising, and if this is your second-you will have an even more awesome, uncomplicated experience!
4. If you never exercised before becoming pregnant, now is not the time to start.
What a bunch of garbage that one is! But it is believed by most of the pregnant population because, well, they just don’t know any better! It’s what they’ve heard! BUT… of course you can start a program. It just has to be a beginner level and build gradually. Just as if you were new to working out, you would start yourself off similar in nature.
5. You must keep your heart rate under 140 beats per minute when pregnant.
WRONG! First of all, this was fromthe ACOG inthe 80′s and has been revam,ped since then ladies! Some insight on your heart rate: a pregnant woman’s resting heart rate is elevated, therefore heart rate should not be a determinant as to what intensity you are working at. The ACOG Guidelines does however recommend you keep your heart rate below or around 160 beats per minute. Still, you should be using the Borg Scale: Rate of Perceived Exertion to measure your intensity. On a scale of 6-20, keeping your intensity around 12-14 is appropriate. This means you are working at a moderate to hard intensity. I personally still wear my heart rate monitor so I can keep an eye on what my body is doing so I am always aware of what’s going on. I still get appropriate and very challenging workouts by using the Borg Scale AND monitoring my heart rate.
6. You should limit and cut back on exercise in your last trimester.
NO! You should however reduce the intensity as needed in your last trimester, but staying consistent is important. Still, use the Borg Scale and listen to your body.
WARNING SIGNS to STOP exercising:
-Dizziness or feeling faint
-Severe abdominal pain
-Decreased fetal movement
-Amniotic fluid leakage
What Causes Faint or Dizziness When Pregnant?
Especially early on, many women often times feel dizzy or faint, especially when attempting to work out. One cause can be something called “underfill”.
Due to hormonal changes, Progesterone is released within the first trimester ( 0 to 3 months ) and causes vascular under fill. This is where the blood vessels soften and widen (vasodilatation) causing the blood pressure to fall.
If you felt dizzy or light headed in the beginning of your pregnancy, especially if you were exercising-this may now make sense to you as far as “why” you felt thatway. When this happens, make sure to rest and resume at a more moderate intensity. If this keeps up throughout your pregnancy, you may be working too hard and you should bring it to your Dr.’s attention.
Other Hormonal Changes That Occur:
Relaxin is a hormone released in the second trimester ( 3 to 6 month ) It’s function is to soften the ligaments, cartilage and the cervix in preparation for child birth. The effects of relaxin means that joints throughout the body are potentially vulnerable and therefore should not be overly stressed. Oestrogen is a hormone that promotes breast growth, this can cause the breasts to become uncomfortable during exercise.
Make sure to wear proper support and attire when exercising. You may even consider investing in a Medela support band if you are very active. It will relieve lower back pressue and help lift the belly making you feel a little more comfortable.