Fitness during pregnancy

Before I became pregnant or even planned on become pregnant, I had always envisaged that I would eventually be one of those ‘fit’ pregnant people like those we see in magazines, who manage to stay toned and glowy throughout their pregnancy. At the minute, due to the exercise I am currently doing, I look like this…

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Going back seven months when I did become pregnant, these thoughts of having to stay fit were still there, but for the first five months I felt so nauseous and tired-it was as if I had a permanent hangover. I was also being told by every yoga and dance class instructor that I couldn’t join their classes until after three months of pregnancy; even now, I haven’t met one that will happily have me in their class at 7 months pregnant. These factors prevented me from exercising as much as I used to. I would occasionally go for a jog and did a modified yoga practice at home, but my jog turned into walking due to cramping, and I decided a prenatal yoga dvd may be safer. I did try a few prenatal yoga classes at Triyoga in Camden and Frame in Islington, but these were too slow and I felt were a waste of money and time for me. I also went to a trial class at Maternally Fit in Islington, but I found this class boring and beginner level, and the instructor uninspiring.

From my sixth month, I started to feel better and so have got into a stead fitness regime, as outlined below.

Prenatal Yoga

The DVD I am using at the moment is by Katy Appleton. A work colleague attended her teacher training so I thought I would give this one a go. There are three different levels one can choose; I follow the ‘Shine’ section as it is the most dynamic. It is not a vinyasa flow style but it does make feel like that it helps me maintain some of my strength and flexibility. There is also a section on hypnobirthing which is more like a savasana-although I wouldn’t recommend this as an alternative to a hypnobirthing workshop, it is very relaxing. I have always been quite particular about the voice that a yoga teacher uses, and have to admit that I find Katy’s voice a little irritating, especially when she elongates certain syllables (“sunnnnnn salutation”), or uses certain phrases like “…show your luminous gratitude for the gift of your baby”. I am no earth mother so cannot relate to such phrases, and have never seen being pregnant as a miracle. However, the DVD is good enough for me to ignore these minor points!

Swimming

I used to swim so much when I was at school and swam for my county, but then gave it up due to becoming bored (story of my life!). I had heard from so many people that swimming is one of the safest forms one can do when pregnant, so my husband and I have been going swimming once a week to Pancras Square Leisure Centre.

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I do 20 lengths of 25 metres each length which takes roughly about 20 minutes. When I first went, I overdid things by doing front crawl, constantly running out of breath but pushing myself anyway, and ending up with crazy cramping in my tummy. Now I just to breaststroke with rests when I feel like it. The weightless feeling in the water is amazing! I honestly don’t feel pregnant and heavy when in the water; when I get out the pool I can really feel the difference of how cumbersome my body feels without the water to support me. This is my favourite exercise at the minute.

Equipment Pilates

I have been seeing Kamil, a one-to-one pilates instructor at Triyoga Camden for about a month now. I wanted to work safely on my core strength, and as I know that pregnant women should avoid sit-ups and too much abdominal work, I wanted to see a professional about this. I took advantage of the Pilates Starter Pack for £190 which includes an initial assessment and three private sessions, saving £70 altogether. Sessions involve work on a reformer and other equipment and light weights to tone and strengthen my legs and arms whilst maintaining a strong core throughout the exercises. I have been continuing to do these every other day using my husband’s theraband instead of hand weights. Once my starter pack has run out, private sessions will cost £65, semi-private £40, and a small group £33. I really can’t afford the price of private sessions, so will look into group sessions either at Triyoga or elsewhere.

Walking!

Not the most fun thing to do in the world, but it’s pretty easy to fit into my day. I walk for half an hour twice a day to and from work instead of getting the bus up a stupidly big hill. I do get incredibly breathless, but I feel like I’m getting a good cardio workout! I try and walk everywhere now.

So, compared to my old pre-pregnancy routine of dancing, yoga and running, I have cut down dramatically, and I have to keep reminding myself that this is for the safety of the baby, and is only temporary! My husband and I do still like to dance around to 80s songs at home, so it’s not all ‘serious’ exercise!