Pre Natal Exercise

My pre-natal exercise sessions are about attention to detail.

At first glance pregnancy experts seem to recommend a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. However, here are some of the things I consider when designing a pre natal exercise program for my pregnant clients:

  • Musculoskeletal changes can occur from weight gain. This can lead to an increase in forces across hip and knee joints by up to 100%. This places a firm question mark as to whether running as part of pre natal exercise program is sensible or not.
  • 50% of pregnant women typically display lumbar lordosis (excessive rounding of lower spine) which can be eased and corrected with the appropriate pre natal exercise plan.
  • Cardiovascular changes during pregnancy lead to increases in stroke volume, heart rate and cardiac output especially during the 2nd and 3rd trimester. These changes appear to establish a ‘circulatory store’ needed for to provide nourishment for mother and baby at rest and during moderate but not vigorous activity.
  • Cardiovascular and postural changes combine in the 1st trimester to obstruct venous return and therefore cardiac output in the supine (lying down) position. This position should be avoided as much as possible during pre natal exercise as well as motionless standing for long periods.
  • Respiratory changes – because of increased work of breathing caused by pressure of the enlarged uterus on the diaphragm there is decreased oxygen availability for the performance of aerobic exercise during pregnancy.

As the British Journal of Sports Medicine (2012) succinctly suggests, ‘pregnancy should not be a state of confinement’ and women with uncomplicated pregnancies should be encouraged to engage in regular activity.