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The more important pregnancy exercise and nutrition rules – 2024

I generally don’t like strict rules when it comes to how to health and fitness, everyone is different so things that work for one person, won’t necessarily work for another. Below are general guidelines that will help you have a healthy pregnancy.

The best way to use this list is to run through the list and see what you are doing already and then select one or two each week to focus on and see how you get on.

Get checked over by a women’s health physio

It’s the most reassuring thing you can do to ensure all is well down below. They perform an internal examination for your pelvic floor – I can only look at the core and feel the abs.

Focus on breathing

A correct breathing technique is the foundation for true core function, healing and strength. Correct breathing is key to a strong core. You can practice anywhere, anytime- learn how here. Not only this but good breathing is super important during labour too!

Eat good quality protein

Good quality protein are the building blocks of our body and will help the body to heal following your pregnancy. Ideally aim for a source of protein in every meal. Good sources include beans, tofu, nuts and seeds and if you are eating meat then ensure it is organic and grassfed.

Keep working on your core

Your core includes all your muscles from your diaphragm right down to your pelvic floor and is an integral part of basically any movement we do so it is important to keep it functioning properly during pregnancy by doing core exercises. Two good ones to start with are box pelvic floor tilts and kegels.

Avoid exercises which use your obliques if you have a diastasis

If you are suffering from a diastasis avoid *twisting* exercises that work your obliques. These can essentially pull the muscles apart further which is the opposite to what we want to be doing. We want to be reconnecting the core to bring the abs back together.

Eat the rainbow

Different coloured fruit and vegetables have different vitamins, if we focus on eating the rainbow we can be confident that you are getting a wide variety of vitamins.

Seek expert help if you have any concerns

If you are suffering from any problem, whether it is leaking, wounds not healing, or a diastasis (where the abs come apart), see a specialist. Whether its a women’s health expert, a postnatal personal trainer or a soft tissue therapist, you will not regret it!

Don’t stress about your weight

Right now the priority should be on the growing life inside you and looking after yourself. Most pregnant women gain between 10kg and 12.5kg, putting on most of the weight after week 20. A lot of this is your baby growing, but your body will also be storing fat, ready to make breast milk after your baby is born and increased blood volume. Pregnancy is not the right time to be cutting your calories or starting an extreme exercise programme. That said…

Stay active during your pregnancy

That said, now is a good time to get into the routine of regular exercise, not only does it reduce aches and pains, improves your energy and mood and improve your ability to cope with labour, but there is evidence that it is good for your baby (leads to lower body fat percentage, lower heart rate and faster cognitive development, for these benefits, exercising in the third trimester is most beneficial).

Stick to low impact exercises

For the first trimester, with the exception of contact sports, scuba diving and skydiving, you can pretty much carry on what you were doing before. From the second trimester you will find that you want to stick to low impact workouts.

Stay active during your pregnancy

The best thing you can do is regular workouts through your pregnancy, not only will they help you recover more quickly following giving birth but it is good for your baby and also puts you in the best position to have a problem free pregnancy and labour. You don’t need any fancy equipment- regular walks and swimming are great during pregnancy plus some body weight exercises and of course kegels. The government guidelines recommend doing at least 150 minutes of activity per day which is only 22 minutes per day, which anyone can squeeze in to their day if they want to.

Make sure you are drinking enough water

This is important when you are not pregnant so unsurprisingly it is also very important when you are pregnant. The amount each person needs varies but as a rough guide, aim for 2 litres of water per day, plus whatever you drink while you are working out and increase this if it is particularly warm.

Cut down on the ultra processed foods in your diet

Sometimes we have no option, the morning sickness is real and all you can stomach is plain pasta and salt and vinegar chipsticks and that is completely fine! For the rest of the time we want to avoid ultra-processed foods as much as possible and feed our body with yummy, nutrient dense food. Ultra-processed foods include mass-produced packed bread, packaged snacks, sweets and desserts, fizzy drinks, chicken nuggets and fish fingers, instant noodles and soups, ready meals and fast food.

Get enough good fats

Good fats such as avocado, nut butters, nuts and seeds, olive, sesame and coconut are so good for our skin health, nails and vital to our overall health.

Regress your workouts

You will find that as time goes by, workouts that you were doing a few weeks ago seem harder. At first this is hard to get your head around and the opposite of what you would normally expect when you are consistently exercising (!) but it is completely normal and just adjust your workouts accordingly.

You can still run

If you run, you can continue doing this for as long as you feel comfortable, the key here is to listen to your body and stop as soon as something doesn’t feel right. I’m 26 weeks pregnant and still able to run and I’ve heard of people running right up to 37 weeks but equally some women find its not comfortable from the second trimester.

As I said before, the best way to use this list is to run through the list and see what you are doing already and then select one or two each week to focus on and see how you get on. Let me know and if you think there are any things that I have missed send me a message and I will add them!

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