One of the big questions pregnant women ask themselves is whether we can start training or continue to train as we have done up until the moment we know we are expecting a baby. We should be clear that just because a woman gets pregnant doesn’t mean she has to take absolute rest for nine months (unless, of course, our doctor recommends it).
If you haven’t trained so far, pregnancy may be the best time to start exercising. However, if you were already an athlete before you became pregnant, not only can you continue to exercise, but it will benefit you greatly throughout the nine months of waiting, especially strength training. This is how strength training benefits you during pregnancy.
Most importantly, put yourself in the hands of professionals
From your gynecologist to your coach, it is important that during your pregnancy you put yourself in the hands of health professionals. They will be in charge of guiding you during those nine months in which your body will undergo important changes in a short period, and they will be in charge of watching over your health and that of the future baby.
Before considering whether you want to train or not, consult your gynecologist so that he or she can give you the go-ahead and assure you that you are not suffering from a risky pregnancy. Once you know this, you can get to work with a qualified personal trainer.
Why train your strength during pregnancy?
Generally, when we think of training during pregnancy we usually think of more or less gentle activities such as Pilates, and this is great: in fact, there are special classes dedicated to the Pilates method during pregnancy, aimed at working the pelvic floor muscles and helping us move better during the months of waiting and the following months. Low-intensity cardiovascular training, which is also beneficial for pregnant women, is also very popular.
However, strength training can be very beneficial for pregnant women, provided it is well-timed and responds to low to moderate intensity, according to this 2011 study.
Among the greatest benefits that strength training can provide during pregnancy is the protection of the lower back, where most pregnant women experience pain once the baby develops inside the uterus. It can also help us not to gain excessive weight during those nine months and to prepare our body for the moment of delivery.
Preparing your body to welcome a baby
The biggest change in a pregnant woman’s body over the months is the growth of the belly as it accommodates the future baby in the womb. The increase in belly volume, along with the increase in weight, causes the pregnant woman to adopt a “more comfortable” posture for her, shifting her center of gravity forward and accentuating the lumbar curve.
This is why most pregnant women experience back pain: a less than ideal position to which all the extra weight of the baby must be added. When it comes to preventing this pain from occurring or if we want to alleviate it once it has appeared, back chain strength training, for example with paddles using different accessories, is very useful.
Preparing your body for birth
The period of pregnancy is not the only one that benefits from physical exercise. We know that women who have been physically active during the months of pregnancy have shorter deliveries afterward (according to this 2016 study) as the dilation phase (the first of all and the one that usually takes longer) is noticeably shortened.
Training the pelvic floor muscles also helps to improve the expulsive phase of labor, and can also prevent a possible episiotomy.
The adequate strength and cardiovascular training for the pregnant woman will depend a lot on the previous form of the woman and how her body responds during the nine months of pregnancy. Personalized training carried out by a professional is essential if you want to continue training during these months: remember that the most important thing is to prevent your health and that of the future baby.