Amy gives her advice for pregnant mummies who want to exercise safely and effectively during pregnancy and offers some great tips for those problem areas too
Former British Skeleton Racer and Olympic Gold Medallist Amy Williams is currently pregnant with her second child. She has continued her exercise programme throughout her pregnancy and has recently become a qualified PT. She has some great advice for those who want a fit and active pregnancy.
“What you do or don’t do during pregnancy and early postpartum can affect your long term fitness and performance of your body.
“A slower and steadier pace is needed during pregnancy and after you have had your baby; this is more sustainable and will continue to be effective postpartum. So scale back, modifying your exercises or adjust your breath, alignment and body position, then gradually reintroduce movement, load and intensity when the time is right. Pregnancy is simply not the time to push it in the gym and go and try out lots of different training methods and postpartum is not the time to rush back into intense exercise.
“Choosing to be proactive with your recovery (no matter how perfect your pregnancy or delivery or how fine you feel) can help minimise core and pelvic floor dysfunction, diastasis, pelvic organ prolapse, incontinence, pelvic pain and back/hip pain.
“Core rehabilitation is so important post-birth. This does not mean starting on doing sit ups, planks or ab bikes but rather engaging your deep core muscles and pelvic floor. You can do this by lying on your back and drawing your belly button down towards your spine; put your hands in the curve of your back and try to squash them to the floor. You don’t want an arched back – instead, it needs to be flat to the ground.
“Ensure that you still practice gentle breathing while doing all exercises. You don’t want to hold your breath. All exercises should all be done in a slow and controlled manner.
“Before you start doing any exercise post birth then I would recommend you:
- Get clearance from your doctor
- See a women’s health physio and get checked for Diastasis Recti (abdominal muscle separation). Chat to them about any concerns you might have with your pelvic floor
- Start with core rehab before incorporating other gentle exercises into your routine
- Listen to your body. Getting back in shape is not a race! Take your time
“Here are some ideal exercises for pregnancy and when baby comes along. Start with six to eight repetitions of each exercise, doing two rounds. You can do these every day and slowly build up to 12 reps of three rounds.”
Leg Lowers: push back into mat, control your breathing, then slowly drop alternate heel to the floor. AIM – 2 x 10 each leg.
Superman: Place your weight on your knees and place your hands directly underneath your shoulders. Slowly left one leg and the opposite arm, keeping your breathing controlled as you move. Alternate your arms and legs, keeping your back strong and your pelvis straight.
Squats: Feet should be hip width apart, with your weight on heels, your knees behind your toes. Lower slowly for the count of three and up for the count of three. Squeeze your glutes (bottom muscles) at the top of each movement, keeping your pelvis tucked under.
Arm circles: You can perform these with or without weights. Do tiny circles, retracting your shoulders back and keeping your shoulders low.
Upright row: Bring your hands up with elbows high and your shoulders low. Slight bend at the knees as you pull weight up using your shoulders.
Bicep curl: With your arms by your side and elbows tucked in, lift and straighten your arms in front of you, pivoting from the elbow.