Pregnancy Fitness: 1st Trimester Strength Training

I’ve been really lucky to be able to write some informative blogs for the children’s shop Kiddicare. I love this shop and brought most of Lacie’s baby clothing, furniture and pram from here, so its a real honour to be writing for them.
Basically all my blogs are about how to exercise safely through pregnancy. I am going to share all these blogs with you over the next few weeks so all you beautiful pregnant ladies feel confident to carry on exercising. Here’s my second blog – ‘How to Strength Train Safely during your First Trimester’.
As always please drop me an email or message me if you need a hand or have any queries….

Strength training in the first trimester will help you to manage exertion levels later on in your pregnancy, when things feel harder due to increased weight yet decreased energy levels.

Resistance and stretching helps to prevent injury when the pressure on your joints increases and the hormone relaxin kicks in, which we’ll explain more about in our 2nd trimester posts (levels of relaxin tends to surge in the second trimester – around the 12 week mark.) It also takes a lot of muscle and stamina to deliver a baby; so the stronger you are now, the better.

I have designed this mini workout to help strengthen all the key muscles that you will need for a strong and healthy pregnancy, while keeping the intensity down. You can do most of these moves at home or at a gym with minimal equipment – just make sure you’re never out of breath or holding your breath, as this can elevate your blood pressure and starve your body of oxygen, which isn’t safe.

Keep the reps slow too, to elongate your muscles and build strength, rather than quick jerky movements that will cause injury, and always go at your own pace and stay hydrated.

The Workout…

Prisoner Squats
Reps 12
Sets 3
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and place your fingers on the back of your head, pulling your elbows and shoulders back and sticking your chest out.
Lower your body as far as you can by pushing your hips back and bending your knees, keeping your torso upright and your core tight. Pause, and then slowly push through your heels back to the starting position.

Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 20.04.35

Upright Row
Reps 12
Sets 3
Grab a pair of light dumbbells or tin cans, and let them hang down at arm’s length in front of your waist.
Leading with your elbows, pull the weights up to your chin, making sure your elbows are higher than your wrists and shoulders.
Pause, and then slowly return the weights to the starting position

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 12.57.36

Step up with balance
Reps 10 each leg
Sets 2
Place a step in front of you and step up with your left foot, bringing your right leg forward and up and bending your knee until your thigh is parallel to the floor.
Balance for a few seconds then lower your right leg back to start, then the left. Do all 10 reps on your left leg, before repeating on your right.

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 12.58.22

Back Rows
Reps 12
Sets 3
Hold a pair of light dumbbells or tin cans with your hands about shoulder-width apart.
Gently bend at your hips and lower your torso until it’s almost parallel to the floor. Your knees should be slightly bent and your lower back naturally arched.
Squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull the dumbbells up to the sides of your torso.
Pause, then return to the starting position.

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 12.59.06

Work your core – Cat and Cow
Reps 12
Sets 2
Get down on hands and knees in a tabletop position.
Look up, and stretch the front of your body as you inhale (Cow), then slowly round your back and look down as you exhale, being careful not to engage your abs (Cat).

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 12.59.41

Stretch it out – Child’s Pose
Hold for 10-15 seconds
Sit on the floor with knees wide apart and resting on the floor. Bend forward, walk your hands forward then rest your forehead and hands on the floor as you breathe calmly and deeply.

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 13.00.13

Remember!

As always, make sure you get the go-ahead from your doctor before you start exercising and listen to your body. If it doesn’t feel right then stop. Make sure you are also fully hydrated and that your exercise in cool and comfortable conditions.

You’re still in your first trimester so the baby shopping hasn’t yet begun in earnest but you can still start thinking about the bigger ticket items like your pushchair, car seat and nursery. Exciting isn’t it?!

Thank you to Nike for the kit and Nuffield Health, Bromley for shoot location.

38 Weeks Pregnant – Walking to Induce Labor

As you will already know – I’ve stayed REALLY active during my pregnancy. I’ve tried to go to the gym five to six times a week mixing resistance, stretching and cardio work. It’s definitely kept the weight gain under control and made me feel good inside and out. It really worries me seeing some pregnant women hardly able to walk with aches and pains all over their body. I know everyone is different and I am very lucky to not of suffered from any of this but I do think my exercise has helped this. Lots of people have questioned me in the gym saying ‘Are you sure you should be here?’ Of course I should. I know my limits and would never put myself or my baby in any danger. I think it would probably be more dangerous for me to stop training to be honest. I’ve been training for so long and my body physically and mentally relishes on it.

That said, since turning nine months pregnant, I know alternate my gym sessions with an hour walk – gym one day, walk the other. I can’t tell you how much I miss running so getting outdoors for a walk feels so good! I just stick my iPod on and go.

So what are the benefits of walking in late pregnancy?
Well apparently walking is a wonderful and natural way to induce labor at the end of pregnancy, infact the swaying motion of your hips may ease your baby’s head into your pelvis, giving you a leg up on labor.

Walking also utilises gravity to help  pull the baby down, which places gentle pressure on the cervix and encourages it to dilate. The rocking motion will also move the baby into the correct position for birth while helping to strengthen any contractions you may be having – and help them to become more regular.

Walking up and down the stairs can also be a great way to get some extra walking in, especially if you are worried about leaving the house. The action of lifting your lefts as you climb up can help the baby descent into the correct position for birth and put gentle pressure on the cervix in order to start the dilating process. Try walking on uneven surfaces, such as placing one foot on the curb and one foot on the street to. This can help rock the baby lower and encourage the cervix to dilate. Just be careful you don’t trip so hang on to your partner’s arm for safety,especially if you’ve noticed your balance has deteriorated since being pregnant. 

So make sure you keep active. I’m due for a walk tomorrow – it’s a 5km loop that takes me about an hour. Who’s with me? Just make sure you take your phone, some water, wear a sports bra and listen to your body. This isn’t the time to be breaking any records.

Have fun out there!

Screen Shot 2013-12-23 at 14.01.59