EXERCISE AND TRAINING. FITNESS DURING PREGNANCY
When we exercise, the blood goes from the internal organs to the active muscles. Since a developing fetus requires a constant blood supply, could it hurt if your mother exercised?
In animals, intensive exercise reduces blood supply to the uterus by 25%. Still, the fetus usually has no problems because the flow to the placenta (a source of oxygen and nutrients for the fetus) remains stable.
Another safeguard is that maternal blood becomes thicker during pregnancy. That concentrates the red blood cells so that more oxygen can reach the fetus.
With all these additions, likely, the fetus has sufficient blood supply even during the mother’s period of intensive exercise.
Another possible problem that may arise during exercise during pregnancy is hyperthermia or elevated body temperature.
Maternal hyperthermia during the first two months of pregnancy increases the incidence of congenital disabilities, particularly involving the development of the brain and spine. After the fourth month, elevated body temperature could lead to premature birth.
Medical authorities suggest that the maximum safe body temperature of a pregnant woman training is 38.5 degrees.
But this figure is based on animal research and is strictly theoretical for humans. The majority of women during pregnancy do not want to cut exercise to take the temperature. As this is closely related to the environment, pregnant women should be advised not to exercise on humid or hot days.
Those days should also wear loose, light clothing and train during the cooler times of the day.
Other suggestions for pregnant women include drinking more fluids, training with less intensity, and shorter duration during hot days. Saunas and steam baths should be avoided during pregnancy or at least limited to no more than 10 minutes.
As a fast-growing fetus requires a continuous supply of fuel in the form of glucose (blood sugar), a pregnant woman would not wish to spend it during exercise and deprive the fetus of its necessary nourishment.
Pregnant women burn carbohydrates at a reasonable rate and do not accumulate more glycogen than normal women.
If the fetus does not get enough glucose, this can lead to reduced fetal weight at birth and fetal malnutrition. But don’t worry, because nature provides assurances and benefits to protect the baby and have a healthy delivery.
In early pregnancy, a woman produces higher amounts of insulin that increase glucose absorption.
That increases fat deposits during the first two trimesters of pregnancy. These fat deposits will be essential at the end of pregnancy when the fetus experiences its fastest growth.
The woman then becomes insulin resistant by the action of two pregnancy hormones (human chorionic somatotropin and progesterone), which make more glucose available to the fetus.
The woman then begins to eliminate the fat deposits that have accumulated during the second trimester of pregnancy and uses them as a source of additional energy.
Some people think that exercise during early pregnancy could lead to more miscarriages.
A recent study found that two runners did not know they were pregnant until more than four months had passed.
Therefore, they had continued their training with the same intensity as before. Pregnant women didn’t reduce the amount of training and gave birth to children of average weights and characteristics.
Being Fitness Girl, the best and safest way to get through pregnancy
These are apparent proofs to deny the notion that “pregnancy makes a woman lose her shape.”
Many Fitness girls have had children and have retrained hard without experiencing any adverse effects.
However, one of the problems these women might have is the difficulty of getting pregnant.
To be able to gestate a baby is about 80,000 calories, and it is difficult to get pregnant if you have less than 17 percent body fat.
Most women’s menstrual functions stop when they reach 11 percent fat.
A woman’s body can detect when there is an insufficient level of fat to support the needs of pregnancy.
What happens then is that a part of the brain called the hypothalamus temporarily shuts off the secretion of the pituitary hormones that control female fertility.
Estrogen plays a role in this scenario. The female synthesizes the third estrogen by converting adrenal androgens into peripheral fat deposits.
If the deposits are too low, estrogen is not produced, and reproductive functions cease, making it difficult for a woman to become pregnant.
The solution, as many Fitness girls know, is simple: get fatter. You don’t have to become an obese woman, but you do get to that 17 percent body fat.
As a general rule, many-body composition studies show that girls who stay fit while exercising or playing sports and who take it seriously have fat levels of 6 to 11 percent when they are at their peak.
The medical evidence shows that female athletes who play sports more often have healthier pregnancies, with shorter, more natural deliveries, and far fewer abortions and cesareans.
Fitness Training During Pregnancy
Medical authorities differ in their recommendations regarding training with weights during pregnancy.
Some complain about the lack of studies, and others say that training with weights during pregnancy has many benefits.
Dr. Mona Shangold says: “The myths of the damaging effects of weight training during pregnancy persist. It’s time to set the record straight. Our two main concerns about aerobic exercise have nothing to do with weight training.
The first of all is the dangerous rise in body temperature, which does not occur in weight training.
The second issue is that pregnants can continue doing the aerobic exercise until hypoxia (lack of oxygen for the fetus) here, the weights do not give problems either.
In my opinion, we should promote the benefits of training with weight during pregnancy, because it strengthens the muscles that will suffer most with advanced pregnancy.
An American study included 845 pregnant women who lifted weights. It showed that they had lower rates of cesarean sections, healthier and heavier children, shorter hospital stays, and decreased pain and general problems.
Training with weights during pregnancy helps good posture, prevents low back pain, and excessive separation of abdominal muscles, common in pregnancy (straight days).
Some researchers express concerns about weight training during pregnancy.
Dr. Raul Artal says that women experience ligament and joint laxity during pregnancy due to the action of hormones such as relaxing, cortisol, progesterone, and estrogen.
That makes it easier for them to injure themselves when exercising than before they become pregnant.
Another possible problem with weight training is the “Valsalva effect,” which happens when we hold our breath during the execution of an exercise.
Internal pressure increases, diverting blood from the internal organs to the muscles we’re working on; this could deprive the fetus of oxygen, Artal says.
Complications related to that effect can be avoided by not holding your breath when lifting weights.
Probably, exercises that compress the chest, such as leg presses, should be avoided in the last trimesters of pregnancy for the same reasons.
How then should a pregnant woman train with weights?
Shangold suggests a series of exercises that strengthen 10 to 15 different muscle groups, with a practice frequency of twice a week.
But he recommends that training be gradual and in strict style, although pregnant women can use large weights for ten repetitions. On the other hand, Artal says that pregnant women should use very light weights.
Other authorities say isolation exercises are better for pregnant women because of the joint laxity associated with pregnancy.
Compound exercises, such as squatting, place excessive stress on joints and ligaments, especially when using enormous weights.
It is necessary to carry out an appropriate program for each woman, always taking into account the different trimesters of pregnancy.
For example, doing exercises lying on your back is not suitable during the final trimester of pregnancy. This type of activity can reduce the supply of oxygen to the fetus and produce a temporary decrease in blood pressure, which causes dizziness when the pregnant gets up.
As we have already said, during the last trimester of pregnancy, the woman develops temporary insensitivity to insulin.
As a result, it becomes more challenging to use carbohydrates as a source of energy, especially during long workouts.
That means that a pregnant woman who wants to stay fit should do less intensive weight training and more rest between sets to prevent fatigue. Some experts suggest a maximum of 30-45 minutes.
If a woman has played sports but has not lifted weights before becoming pregnant, she should receive proper instruction on the appropriate way to exercise.
You should also look for any signs of problems and consult your doctor as soon as those symptoms appear. What shouldn’t a pregnant woman do when training?
Things to Avoid When Exercising When Getting Pregnant
- Firstly the intensive exercise during the first quarter.
- Do exercises lying on your back at the end of pregnancy.
- Also, exercise in hot and humid conditions.
- Exercise when fatigued, especially during the end of pregnancy. Sudden increases in exercise volume.
- Perform high-risk sports, such as diving, hockey, football, fencing, rugby, etc.
- Run long-distance races.
- Do exercises or activities that require a lot of balance.
- Exercises or Sports that suppose an excessive tension on the joints.
- Perform rapid changes in position (may cause dizziness).
- Exercise to the point of exhaustion to restriction of breath.
- Eat low-carbohydrate diets, to any restricted diet.
- Do ballistic exercises (with rebound).
- Take saunas or steam baths for more than 10 minutes.
Reasons to stop training and see a doctor
- Vaginal bleeding.
- You have more than 6 to 8 contractions per hour (suggests premature delivery).
- Unexplained abdominal pain.
- Lack of fetal movement.
- You have sudden swelling of ankles, hands, and face.
- You have persistent headaches and visual disturbances.
- Dizziness or fainting.
- You are swelling, having pain, or redness of a leg (maybe clotting problems).
- You notice elevation of the pulsations time after having finished the exercise.
- Excessive fatigue, palpitations, chest pain.
- Insufficient weight gain.
What to eat when you are pregnant?
Nutrition Guide for Active Pregnancy
Pregnant women should increase their calorie intake. The mother reflects in her body the weight of the newborn. And the lower the pressure, the higher the chances of death of the baby or complications in childbirth.
Doctors suggest that the ideal weight gain for a pregnant woman is 11 to 13 kilograms, distributed as follows:
- Baby’s weight at birth 3.5 kilos
- Placenta ………… 0,5 kilos
- Increase in blood 2.0 kilos
- Increased uterus 1.1 kg
- Amniotic fluid 0.9 kg
- Breast augmentation… 1.3 kilos
- Fat deposits …2 to 5 kilos
Lightweight newborns usually come from women who have gained less than nine kilos during pregnancy; those who increase more than 15 are likely to get an excess of fat.
During the first trimester of pregnancy, many women gain 1 to 2 kilos in weight, but some lose weight due to morning sickness. After the first three months, the average gain is half a kilo per week.
The recommended calories for a pregnant woman of average weight are about 2,300. If they train, they will have to add an equal part to the duration and intensity of the exercise. Of particular importance is the increase in carbohydrates.
As has been said, the fat of pregnant women develops during the first six months. They consume a large part in the final stages, four kilos of that fat pregnant women use for lactation, which requires between 600 to 1,000 extra calories.
Pregnant women need 30 grams of extra protein a day, and more if they train (maybe 60). They also need about 40 milligrams of iron a day and about 1,200 milligrams of calcium.
All the vitamin needs increase during pregnancy, folic acid doubles, and it is necessary to take the right amount of fluids to prevent the rise in temperature that produces congenital disabilities.
A balanced diet with iron, calcium, protein, and extra carbohydrates is what the doctor orders. Drink plenty of fluids and increase your vitamin intake.
Pregnant women have to avoid alcohol and any drug during pregnancy.
If you want suggestions of what to eat during pregnancy, read our article “The best 22 foods for our health according to science”.
Exercising during the first trimester of pregnancy
The first trimester is the riskiest for pregnant women. At this stage of pregnancy is where the woman should be careful with the pregnancy, but that is not why exercise should be eliminated from her life or is an impediment to begin to do so. You should follow specific steps to follow or start your training.
- Consult your gynecologist. It is one of the essential things for pregnant women, especially during the first trimester, it is vital to make sure you have a healthy pregnancy.
- Create a training plan: If your body is used to exercise, you can probably continue with your training routine. However, if your body doesn’t perform an exercise, your training plan should consist of softer activities that you can increase gradually.
- Keeping an eye on your breathing: As mentioned earlier, breath is an essential part of the exercise, but in pregnant women who train even more. So always keep an eye on your breathing, and if you’re short of breath, stop your exercise routine.
- Perform Pelvic Exercises. During pregnancy, it is essential to include in your training plan those exercises that help you strengthen your pelvic muscles.
Exercising during the second trimester of pregnancy
If in the second trimester of pregnancy, there has been no complication, we can continue with the exercises without changes. In the second trimester of pregnancy, the woman has not changed her bodyweight much. Always bear in mind that if you have any discomfort, you should stop training and follow particular advice.
- You should have healthy nutrition that includes enough fluids and calories.
- If the woman practiced some sport where sudden changes are made, for example, tennis, before pregnancy, she could continue her training because her body does it regularly.
- If your first-trimester training plan included abdominal exercises, you could continue this type of activity during the second trimester, but with less intensity. Exercising the muscles of the abdomen is very beneficial during pregnancy because strengthening the stomach helps to avoid the discomfort caused by the increase in the lumbar curve caused by weight.
Exercising During the Third Trimester of Pregnancy
When a woman reaches the third trimester of pregnancy, she will begin to feel tired doing activities that she used to do regularly, so you will have to change your exercise routine.
- You should avoid high-risk exercises or exercises that could affect your pregnancy.
- Exercises at home are a good option for women in their third trimester. Dancing, yoga, or walking are excellent options for women who are close to entering the world of motherhood.
- Exercising throughout the pregnancy cycle is also beneficial when giving birth because your muscles are toned and better prepared to receive the baby.
- Faster silhouette recovery. Whether you exercise outdoors or at home, if you reached your third trimester, maintaining the same exercise routine, your body will return to the way it was before pregnancy.
Never try to lose weight during pregnancy through exercise. Eat a diet approved by your doctor that you can control at home. Take care of your body and listen to the signals it sends you so that you can fully enjoy motherhood.
Finally, tell you that when your precious baby is born, you will want to restore your weight and have a beautiful body. If you want to know how to read our article “How to get a model body.”