Exercising during pregnancy is a question many female athletes ponder when they consider getting pregnant or are already pregnant. Exercise is actually fantastic during pregnancy, so long as you take the necessary precautions to ensure that both you and the baby will be safe and healthy.
Talk To Your Doctor
Talking to your doctor is a good idea before starting any exercise program, pregnant or not. While exercise is typically viewed as a positive addition to your pregnancy term, your doctor might have some special considerations for any complications you’ve had in the past or things that might be of concern for your particular body and pregnancy. Everyone is different, and your doctor knows your needs best.
Continue With What You’ve Been Doing
The general rule of thumb is that once you find yourself pregnant, you can continue with the things you’ve already been doing. Pregnancy is not the time to start a new exercise adventure, but it is a great time to continue with the types of exercise you’ve already been doing. Exceptions would be things that are easy and not too stressful to add to your routine, such as walking.
If you’ve been training in Muay Thai, you can keep training (with some modifications as your bump begins to grow). If you’ve been training in Jiu-Jitsu, you can continue training (with some precautions, as well as safe partners). If you’ve been running, you can keep running.
Basically, if it was in your routine before pregnancy, and you have an otherwise uncomplicated pregnancy and are cleared by your doctor, you can keep training with your favorite exercise routines.
Morning sickness can throw a wrench into your typical routine, as nausea and exercise don’t always go hand in hand. If possible, continue to do simple exercises when nausea subsides to avoid a complete stop and attempt to restart physical activity later in the pregnancy. Try to keep some momentum going, even if that means some light walking.
Modifications are an expected component of exercising safely during pregnancy. The body is going through many changes, including an increase in blood volume, a growing bump putting pressure on your back, and a release of relaxin, causing your tendons to be more likely to stretch when strain is put on them. Here are a few things to be aware of and modify as you progress throughout your pregnancy:
- Talk Test: While you can still push yourself during your workouts, you should always be able to pass the talk test. This means that you should be able to hold a conversation throughout your workouts. If at any point you feel like you are straining so hard or are so out of breath that you cannot talk, you need to back off on the intensity. A pregnancy-informed coach will often talk to you to check this factor, so always be willing to talk back to them, as well.
- Standing Up: Somewhere around the second trimester, it is important to stand up in a more comfortable and safer manner. If you find yourself on your back during your workout, roll to your side, bring your opposite arm across your body and plant it on the floor, and use your hand to help press your body back to sitting. Once sitting, you can stand utilizing your hands as needed to maintain your balance. Remember, your growing bump means your body isn’t the same! Take extra precautions to stay balanced and safe.
- Kicking: Muay Thai athletes need to take some extra precautions to continue training safely. Muay Thai kicks put a lot of pressure on the tendons and ligaments in the groin and leg. As relaxin is released into your body to prepare for childbirth, allowing your ligaments to relax and stretch, pregnant mothers are more likely to strain those ligaments when taxing them through something like a heavy Thai kick on a bag, pad, or body. Around the middle of the second trimester, your kicks need to back off significantly in power to protect your ligaments. Take this time to focus on your technique rather than power.
- Teeps, Rolling, And Good Partners: If you are a Muay Thai or BJJ athlete, you will need to cut some things out of your training for a while. Strikes to the belly, such as teeps or punches, are dangerous for the baby and need to be avoided completely. If you are rolling, you will need to avoid positions where your partner is putting pressure on your belly, or where you are on your back for prolonged periods of time. All of this amounts to finding some incredible partners who are very aware of your needs and want to help keep you and the baby safe.
- Avoid Your Back: While short periods of time on your back are okay, you will want to avoid being flat on your back as much as possible. Laying on your back can cause your uterus to compress the vena cava blood vessel, so shifting to your side is a better bet.
- Watch: If at any point you feel you cannot safely accomplish the exercise you wish to do, watching Muay Thai or BJJ practice is still an excellent way for you to stay involved in your teams, learn while watching, and keep you and your baby safe.
Benefits Of Exercise During Pregnancy
Exercise during pregnancy carries many benefits. If you are healthy and cleared to work out, you will find that exercise will help you to sleep better at night, avoid excess weight gain, improve your heart health, reduce pregnancy complications, lower your blood pressure, and lower the odds of delivery-related complications. Continuing to work out during your pregnancy is a great way to keep both you and the baby healthy.
Exercising Safely During Pregnancy
Many women have done Muay Thai and BJJ up until the birth of their children, but the requirement to modify, find good partners, and keep yourself and the baby become extremely important for this to happen. After checking with your doctor, exercising can become a part of a healthy pregnancy for both you and your baby. Take the necessary precautions, talk to your coaches, and find great partners to succeed at finding an exercise routine that will carry you throughout your pregnancy.
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