Pre and Post Natal Exercise Guidelines

Congratulations on your pregnancy or decision to try to conceive or recent birth.

Now how do you prepare for birth, an event which may go from 30 mins to 5 days? It is a tough one and it is harder than preparing for the Australian Open final or 100 meter Olympic sprint. Then ladies have a 50% chance of back pain during or after birth. Did you also know ladies lift their babies on average 58 times a day, many times with poor posture? Okay it may not be easy, but there is no reason why you can do your best to be ready and stronger for what lies ahead.

Hopefully you will engage me as your personal trainer so that you can strengthen your body for pregnancy and strengthen it after it too. I have put together some information to make you informed through each stage of birth including strengthening before conceiving, training during each trimester and returning to your wonderful self after the birth. The best time to train for birth is actually before you conceive, so get fitter and stronger before your pregnant. However, if you haven’t then it is never too late to start.

It is a good idea to always involve your doctor with clearances to exercise at every stage of birth pre conception, trimesters and after birth. In fact, any development should be discussed with your doctors.


Seek medical advice if feel these symptoms regularly:

• Fatigue
• Dizziness
• Heart palpitations
• Shortness of breath

Stop exercise immediately and seek medical advice when:

• Pain in back or pelvis
• Vaginal bleeding or fluid leakage
• Pre term labour

Exercises to avoid:

• Contact sports eg soccer and netball
• Sports with a high risk of falling eg horse riding and step aerobics
• Anything contacting the stomach eg boxing or do not have a medicine ball thrown at you

Danger signs:

• Feeling light
• Faint
• Dizzy
• Short of breath
• Vaginal leaking
• Palpitations
• Blurred vision
• Disorientation
• Severe or continuous headaches
• Lower abdominal pain
• Tightness or cramping
• Back or pubic pain

When you should not exercise during pregnancy:

• History of miscarriages
• Premature labour
• Multiple births, eg twins
• Intrauterine growth retardation
• Incompetent cervix
• Tear in placenta
• Hypertension high BP pregnancy related or pulmonary
• Thrombosis or embolism
• Cardiac valve disease
• Maternal heart disease

When your doctor must clear you to exercise:

• Hypertension, high blood pressure
• Anemia
• Thyroid disease
• Under or over weight
• Very sedentary
• Breach presentation in 3 rd Tri
• History of bleeding during pregnancy


Foliateis intact recommended prior to conception and in first 12 weeks of pregnancy. This is often confused with being consumed throughout the pregnancy.
Mothers should gain 10 to 12 kg during pregnancy. Morning sickness will occur, if persists eat small regular dry meals. Drink plenty of water Bottled or filtered, Amount is.03 times your body weight in kg. Litres per day. Drink at room temperature and drink 15 mins before meals to stimulate enzymes. Try to substitute fatty cravings for nutritious choices. Get to Bed before 10:30pm each day. Constipation may occur, eat plenty or fibre and whole grains.

Eat more of these:

• Organic food
• Fruits and vegetable (not raw best steamed)
• Fresh fish not farmed or canned
• Oils omega 3, 6 9
• Seeds and nuts
• Herbs and spices
• Protein and calcium

Good oils and fats:

• Organic animal meats
• Fish avoid frozen overseas may contain mercury
• Organic or free range eggs
• Raw nuts
• Avocados
• Olive, coconut or flax seed oil

Exercise Guidelines

Stretching – the high release of hormones relaxin and elastin occurs to prepare ladies for birth. These hormones create hyper mobility and joint and ligaments are exposed to instability when over stretched. Hence it is not recommended to aggressively stretch during pregnancy. Reduce range of movement in exercises.

Wear a heart rate monitor – Australia fitness bodies recommend exercising below the heart rate of 150 beats per minute for pregnant ladies. Overseas bodies commonly use 60% max heart rate limit.

Flat shoes – Wear flat shoes during the pregnancy. Did you heels of 2inches impact your body 22degrees and shoes of 4inches impact your body 45degrees. Ladies usually stick out their bottom (tilts their hips down) or hyper extend their knees.

Heat up fast and cool down slow – Pregnancy means ladies heat up fast and cool down slow. They need prolonged warm-up and cool down after exercise and changes done slowly (no up and down). Keep all floor and standing exercises together.

Swimming and aqua training – is great for pregnant exercise.As reduced BP and core temperature will not rise as quickly, helps reduce swelling in the body, prone position (tummy down) encourages blood flow to the fetus. BUT avoid steamers and saunas, do not use flippers it affects lever lengths and may cause injuries. Acquabelts are fine.

Hypertensive supine syndrome (don’t stay on back over 2mins) – Ladies avoid being on your back sleeping, resting, sex or exercising for over 2 mins from the 2 nd tri on. WHY? When the baby gets heavy enough it can squash down blood vena cava which can stop blood circulation. Be wary of dizziness when changing positions and try not to stand motionlessly. Keep this in mind for sexual positions, best positions are on hands and knees or side positions, on back more than 2 minutes is not good as explained.

Avoid exercise in 3 rd tri – as the hips separate and open in preparation for child birth and the baby enters the pelvis, enormous pelvic floor strain occurs. Exercise will overly strain the pelvic floor, stretch the pelvis or compress the baby.

Main exercises good for pregnancy – Pelvic floor contractions (hold pee and anal lock) 3 times for 3min per day, do when on phone or tea break. Pelvic rocks or circles to mobilise back. Inner unit abdominal exercises, deep diaphragm breathing. Refer to your personal trainer for exercises appropriate for your trimester. Great equipment to have is a roller, stability ball and heart rate monitor.

What to expect at birth:

• Stage 1 trigger contractions
• Uterus pulls back baby pushed down
• Stage 2 uterus dilated to 10cm time to push
• Stage 3 placenta and membranes are shed
• Bleeding for a few weeks
• If possible breast feeding good for recovery, C sections and emergency C sections will make abdominal strength rehabilitation much longer
• Take six weeks for uterus to shrink back to original size
• Resume minor rehab exercises such as leg slides, pelvic floor contractions, tummy hold braces, standing core holds.
• Take ten weeks for doctor clearance to return to exercise, linea Alba separation should reseal.

Come back and see me as your personal trainer when your doctor has cleared you to exercise againafter ten weeks. I can help you regain your core so you look your best as soon as possible.

• Ideally, ladies should recover for 24 months before resuming child birth.

Please call for a qualified personal training consultation at whatever stage you are at, either trying to conceive(the best time to get stronger from pregnancy) and smarten up your nutrition, while pregnant or after your pregnancy.

By Romeo Caporaso

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