Exercise in the First Trimester: A Healthy Start to PregnancyNov 16, 2023
The first trimester of pregnancy is a time of profound changes for both your body and your life. It's also a critical time to establish healthy habits that will support you throughout your pregnancy journey. One of the most important habits you can develop is regular exercise.
So, how much exercise is recommended for expectant mums?
The UK Chief Medical Officers guidelines say we should aim for about 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week. That's just 30 minutes a day, most days of the week! Remember, activity is any activity that makes you breathe faster - that could include walking, swimming, gym, yoga, pilates, it's not about pushing to your limit; it's about staying active, feeling great, and adapting your routine to suit your body's changing needs.
Here's an example of what 150 minutes of exercise might look like for you:
Benefits of Exercise in the First Trimester:
- Boosts Energy: The first trimester is often accompanied by fatigue and morning sickness. While it might seem counterintuitive, moderate exercise can actually boost your energy levels. A brisk walk, gentle yoga, or swimming can help combat pregnancy-related fatigue.
- Alleviates Mood Swings: Hormonal changes can lead to mood swings and increased stress during the early stages of pregnancy. Exercise triggers the release of endorphins, the body's natural mood lifters, helping to reduce stress and anxiety.
- Improves Sleep: Many expectant mothers experience disruptions in their sleep patterns during the first trimester. Regular exercise can help improve sleep quality, making it easier to rest.
- Strengthens Muscles: Maintaining muscle strength is vital to support the additional weight and changes your body will undergo throughout pregnancy. Focusing on strength training exercises can help prevent discomfort and pain in the later stages.
- Enhances Circulation: As your body prepares for the demands of pregnancy, maintaining good circulation is essential. Exercise helps improve blood flow and can reduce the risk of conditions like varicose veins.
- Prepares for Labour: Staying active during pregnancy can help prepare your body for the physical demands of labour and delivery. Strong muscles, flexibility, and stamina can make the process more manageable.
Tips for Exercising Safely in the First Trimester:
- Consult Your Midwife of Doctor: If you are unsure about starting or continuing an exercise routine, consult with your healthcare provider. They can provide guidance based on your individual health and pregnancy.
- Stay Hydrated: Proper hydration is essential, especially as your blood volume increases. Drink water before, during, and after exercise to stay hydrated.
- Listen to Your Body: Pay close attention to your body's signals. If you feel pain, dizziness, shortness of breath, or any discomfort, stop exercising and consult your healthcare provider.
- Avoid Overexertion: Pregnancy is not the time to push yourself to the limit. Aim for a moderate level of intensity, where you can carry on a conversation during exercise. Aim for a 7/10 effort level and always make sure that you are able to talk - that is the best test.
- Warm Up and Cool Down: Always begin your workout with a warm-up and end with a cool-down. This helps prevent muscle strain and promotes flexibility.
- Invest in Supportive Gear: Invest in comfortable, supportive athletic wear and shoes designed for pregnancy. A maternity support belt can also help reduce the strain on your back.
Remember that every pregnancy is unique, and what's suitable for one person may not be for another. Your healthcare provider is your best source of guidance on safe and effective exercise during pregnancy.
The first trimester is an excellent time to establish healthy exercise habits that can benefit both you and your growing baby. Regular, moderate exercise can help alleviate common pregnancy discomforts, improve mood, and set the stage for a healthier, more comfortable pregnancy journey.
If you'd like to follow a safe, specialist pregnancy course then take a look at our online courses that have follow along classes for every stage of your pregnancy. Then your 150 minutes of exercise might look like this.
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