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If you are pregnant or you’ve recently had a baby, this podcast is for you. I am your host Kath Baquie. A physiotherapist working in women’s health and mum of three. Join me each week as we dive into all things pregnancy care, childbirth, and postnatal recovery, helping you have a wonderful pregnancy and afterbirth experience. And don’t forget to hit subscribe so you don’t miss any episodes.
Well, hello there. It’s great to have you here for another episode FitNest Mama Podcast. So in this episode, today, I’m discussing safe exercises for pregnancy. So I’m a huge believer that pregnancy and postpartum are really special times in a woman’s life that requires special consideration when it comes to caring for the body and exercising. So we know the impact of pregnancy is huge on the body. The stats tell us this. So one in three women who have had a baby have some level of incontinence and one in two prolapse, according to the Continence Foundation of Australia. And it is also well documented that there are a lot of barriers when it comes to exercising during this period, aches and pains, fatigue, nausea, the being busy being time poor, perhaps working full time, or perhaps looking after toddler, there’s more appointments, there’s things to organize, ultrasound.
So we know that it’s a beautiful time in a woman’s life. Her body is changing, adapting, it’s growing something beautiful. But we’re in a unique position because it’s also a time period where a woman naturally has less time or energy or focus, perhaps to take care of herself. So it’s a bit of a cocktail, we’ve got the changes happening in the body, we’ve got less time, they’ve got more barriers to exercising during pregnancy.
So in this session today, in this podcast episode I’m talking about, like, I’m talking about the benefits of exercising and the guidelines. But I’m also going to give my take because it’s all well and good that we know the benefits of exercising and we know the guidelines. But it’s all well and good. But we need to take into consideration the barriers and the challenges that women might have. And that’s what this podcast episode is all about. So I will run over really quickly benefits of exercising but I feel that it’s really well known like we’ll know it, but it’s how do we do this? Like it’s all well and good. But how do we do this when you’re exhausted? You get home at six o’clock after working all day you’ve been to a scan and you’re feeling nauseous. So how do we look after our bodies during this beautiful time in our life and support our growing belly and our growing body and changing body. So this is what today’s session is all about.
But before diving in, I just want to let you know about the free pregnancy workshop. So head to my website because there is a free one-hour workshop where I talk you through ways to help your body prepare for birth and beyond. So we talk about perineal preparations for perineal massage as we talk about our pelvic floor and how to help our pelvic floor prepare for birth and recovery. And then we talked through a few steps really important steps for after birth recovery. So it’s free just head to my website, fitnestmama.com/free to register.
Alright, let’s get into this episode.
Okay, let’s dive quickly into the benefits of exercising during pregnancy. It’s documented that it helps us prepare for labour and recovery. It helps to lower the risk of gestational diabetes. It helps reduce your risk of back and pelvic pain. It can help to reduce the risk of incontinence and it helps with mental health. It includes a lower risk of postnatal depression. So it’s well documented that benefits of pregnancy benefits of exercising during pregnancy super important and I will link the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. I’ll put a link in the show notes, which has a little pamphlet there on exercising during pregnancy. So the things we want to be aware of they recommend muscle strengthening twice a week.
So if you’re walking that’s great. Walking is a brilliant form of exercise. It’s low impact. It’s free. It gets you out the fresh air. But we do also want to include some muscle strengthening in that if at all possible, they recommend you being active on most days of the week. And the aim is for about 30 minutes a day of moderate intensity physical activity. So, that does sound like a lot. But they have found that there’s benefits with even bursts of 10 minutes. So even if it’s 10 minutes here and there, the aim is to be physically active on most preferably all days of the week. But we also want to make sure we’re aiming for moderate intensity. So what we mean by that is, we don’t want to be doing really vigorous exercise where you’re short of breath, there’s a bit of a guideline, it’s called the talk test. So during pregnancy, we want to be able to hold a conversation while you’re talking. We might be slightly puffed out, but you can still hold a conversation, you’re not gasping for air. So that’s a really good level of intensity in the safe range of intensity of exercise. And also, with any exercise during pregnancy, or any new routine at all, do make sure you’ve got that medical clearance to make sure you are okay to start with any new routine or an exercise during pregnancy.
So we’ve talked about muscle strengthening exercises twice a week, we’ve talked about the intensities of moderate intensity, which includes the torque test, we’ve talked about trying to exercise on most days. So it’s about up to 150 minutes, minimum per week, if possible. So about 20 to 30 minutes per day. And then the other thing to be aware of is including pelvic floor exercises. So pelvic floor muscle training, during pregnancy has been found to help with recovery in terms of reducing your risk of leaking incontinence and prolapse issues. So pelvic floor strengthening is super important. But it’s not just about strengthening, we want the pelvic floor area and the pelvic floor muscles to be functioning well. So this also includes being able to relax the pelvic floor muscles. And that relaxation side of things is super important for childbirth, being able to relax and release those pelvic floor muscles so that the baby’s head can descend through the pelvis. Super important. So we’ve got the strengthening and the relaxation.
Now, we’ve talked about the benefits. We talked about the guidelines. But I do want to recognize the barriers that are there. You might have listened to me just then thinking, Oh, my gosh, I do not have time to feel I don’t have time to anything extra during the week, how am I supposed to fit in 30 minutes a day. So this is where I think the guidelines are great. But if you’re feeling nauseous and exhausted, or if you feeling achy and sore, this is when we need to work with what we’ve got. And this is where I think we need to take the guidelines with a certain degree of salt. Is that the right term? Whatever that term, we know that doing something is better than nothing. Done is better than perfect. If you’re feeling nauseous and exhausted, going for a half an hour walk or a half an hour workout, or 45-minute workout might leave you feeling more depleted and even more gross. So if you’re feeling nauseous, perhaps you need to do some beautiful stretches in the sunlight in the fresh air in the back garden. And that might make a world of difference to your mental health how you feeling inside and out. And if you’ve got low back pain or pelvic girdle pain, unfortunately, sometimes walking, although it’s free, and its low impact, and easy to do. Unfortunately, walking can sometimes not be ideal for women with pelvic girdle pain. I don’t mean forever, but even for just a small time point. Sometimes the best thing to do is modify that and do some pelvic girdle pain friendly exercises, which will help you feel better and help you stretch you out help you feel looser help support this area because you don’t want to go for a 45-minute walk and then feel so sore achy that you’re up all night with hip pain and pelvic pain. And I see that happening quite a lot where women who are achy end up doing you know walking they think it’s good and they love walking. But I do believe if you’ve got pelvic girdle pain, you’re listening to this today. Try to nip it in the bud. Let’s try to work out where the pain is coming from. Let’s try and modify and adapt your current exercise routine so that we can nip the pain in the bud. I don’t mean stop exercising altogether because we know the benefits. I mean, let’s modify so that you feel good afterwards you feel rejuvenated and not depleted. And that goes for everything during pregnancy and postpartum. When you’ve had your baby. Sure, we all know it’s great to go for a walk. But if you’ve been up all night and you’re just tired to the bone, what can we do to help you feel good, and not deplete further.
So it’s short and sweet today. I did just want to run through like often women do say to me, what exercise can I do for pregnancy, and there’s no one exercise. So this is where we need to reflect where our bodies at. So if you’re in the first trimester, and you’re feeling nauseous and tired, what will help your body might be very different. If you’re in a second trimester, you’ve got more energy and you’re feeling a bit better. So let’s say you are feeling energetic, and you’re wanting to get exercising, wanting to do a range of both aerobic exercises and strengthening exercises. So aerobic exercises are what we talked about before with that moderate intensity. So that might be when you do a brisk walk, we not gasping for air, but you’ve got a like bit of huff and puff. So you can still hold a conversation or your heart rates being elevated in that safe, safe range, so it might be walking, or it might be stationary cycling. If you enjoy swimming, it could be swimming or other water based activities. A shout out to Aqua mums. If you’re based in Australia, or Victoria, there’s Aqua mums, which is a beautiful physio led water based program. And they have some great forms for aerobic exercises. And inside FitNest Mama, we also have cardio based exercises that are all low impact. And also pelvic girdle pain, pregnancy friendly too. So in addition to the aerobic exercises, strengthening exercises a couple of times a week is really recommended. So this could be using light weights or body weight support, or it might be using some elasticated resistance bands. We’re aiming to strengthen those major muscle groups.
So what’s amazing are this many different variations, but this might include Pilates, it might involve weight work. Again, we want to be exercising in a way that’s not elevating our heart rate too much. But also, we know we want to avoid exercising lying flat on your back, particularly after the first trimester. So there’s some research that has shown that exercising on our back during pregnancy can reduce the blood flow that’s going to the fetus, and the weight of the baby is pushing on those major blood vessels that are supplying the baby. So rather than lying on the back, this is where we need to modify the activity. So you can be lying on your side, or four-point kneeling or standing. There’s lots of different variations. So considerations for exercising, we want to include a warm up phase or cool down phase, if possible, we want to avoid the extremes of temperature. And this is especially important in the first trimester. So not getting too hot when exercising is super important. And I think there’s all the other ones which are pretty obvious, but obviously you don’t want to avoid any activities that with the possibility of falling. So this is where perhaps cycling or skiing or horse riding or any sort of where there might be that impact trauma to the abdomen area.
And of course, the pelvic floor side of things. So I know I’m biased ladies. But I created a FitNest Mama because when I was pregnant with my second baby, I struggled to leave the house, I had pelvic girdle pain, I had a toddler. I even worked in a physio clinic that had Pilates and the act of getting there driving my car. Taking my toddler, I had my toddler running around causing havoc, I would often get home from the class an hour long class. And I was so exhausted afterwards. And I thought you know what we need to be able to exercise at home in the convenience of the home 10 minutes here, 10 minutes there. And that is essentially why I created FitNest Mama, so that you had access to the quality support at home that you could do in the comfort of your home, whether or not your baby’s lying asleep next to you or your toddlers running around and joining in on the workout.
So hopefully that was helpful, ladies. Do check out the RANZCOG Guidelines that I’ve linked in the show notes. I’ll also link put the link to Aqua mums, which is that water based workout that we talked about your local pool. But I just wanted to say if you’re listening and you’re just finding you’re finding it hard to prioritize exercise I totally understand like it’s well documented. There’s so many barriers to exercising during pregnancy. And that’s why I think guidelines are great, but that’s also when we need to find out what works with our lifestyle, something is better than nothing, done is better than perfect. And what can you do today to help you rejuvenate you help you feel a little bit better inside and out and help your body stay as strong as possible, prepare for birth and recover afterwards. So that’s it ladies short and sweet today.
Remember if you want to come and join the free Pregnancy Workshop to help you prepare for birth and recovery, just head to fitnestmama.com/free and the link is in the show notes as well. That’s it ladies have a lovely day. And I look forward to you joining me soon for another episode of the FitNest Mama Podcast.
Thanks for listening to the FitNest Mama Podcast brought to you by the FitNest Mama Freebies found at www.fitnestmama.com/free. So please take a few seconds to leave a review, subscribe, so you don’t miss an episode. And be sure to take a screenshot of this podcast, upload it to your social media and tag me, @fitnestmama, so I can give you a shout out too. Until next time! Remember, an active pregnancy, confident childbirth, and strong postnatal recovery is something that you deserve. Remember, our disclaimer, materials, and contents in this podcast are intended as general information only and shouldn’t substitute any medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. I’ll see you soon!