pregnancy

6 myths you need to stop believing about working out while pregnant.

If you're a dame who frequents social media, chances are you've come across a fitness influencer being shamed for working out while pregnant. It happens ALL the time. Like, people are *super* triggered by pregnant women working out.

Take New York-based fitness influencer Yanyah Milutinović, for example. After continuously being trolled on Instagram for her intense fitness routine, the trainer, who is six-months pregnant, recently called out all the kind of criticism she receives on a daily basis. 

She posted a video, superimposing the negative comments over footage of her squatting 110kg. NBD.

"In the not-so-distant past, women were urged to cut down on or even avoid exercise during pregnancy," she wrote in the caption. 

"Today, we know differently. Not only is it OK to participate in fitness activities during pregnancy, but doing so can have a positive impact on both baby and mom."

So, what's the go? Why is there such a cloud of confusion and shame over working out while pregnant? Is it actually safe?

Well, like a lot of things in the health industry, there seems to be a whole lot of misinformation floating around. And it can be really difficult for a pregnant woman to know what's safe and what's not when it comes to exercising.

Keep It Cleaner and KICBUMP co-founder Steph Claire Smith said navigating what you can and can’t do during pregnancy can be really overwhelming.

"There is so much information out there and more often than not, it’s conflicting or outdated," she said.

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"Keeping fit and healthy was a priority for me throughout my entire pregnancy, but like all expectant mums, the safety of my baby was always front of mind. So rest assured mamas, you’re not alone, it’s completely natural to have some concerns when it comes to exercising during pregnancy!"

To cut through all the noise, we went straight to GP Dr Imaan Joshi from Skin Essentials and Ashleigh Mason, KICBUMP’s expert Physiotherapist and Steph Claire Smith's own personal physio, to separate fact from fiction.

Here are five myths common surrounding pregnancy and working out, that you need to stop believing.

Myth #1: It's not safe to exercise while pregnant.

According to our experts, this is one of the most common myths getting around. And it turns out that for most women, exercise is actually really beneficial for both mum and baby.

"Exercising has amazing benefits for you and your baby," said Mason. "The most current research from the Royal Australian New Zealand College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (RANZCOG) states that exercise during pregnancy is not only safe, but highly recommended to improve sleep, promote muscle strength, boost your mood and energy and assist in the management of gestational diabetes and pregnancy-related aches and pains."

Dr Joshi agrees that exercise, so long as it's performed wisely, is safe to do during pregnancy.

"When consulting with newly pregnant patients who ask if it is safe to exercise, my main guide tends to be: 'it’s safe to keep at the level of exercise you’re currently used to, as long as you’re not an elite athlete undertaking hours of intense exercise a day, and not taking up a new regimen'. For example, going from a sedentary lifestyle to rock climbing or CrossFit or similar," said Dr Joshi.

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Myth #2: Exercise will only make you more exhausted. 

As we said before, exercising during pregnancy can actually have some pretty great benefits - not only for your physical health, but your mental health too.

"Exercise is great for mood, heart and skin health. For some women struggling with constipation and backaches later in their pregnancy, regular exercise can help ease some of these symptoms too. Staying active may also help with labour and birth," said Dr Joshi.

"While excessive focus on weight in pregnancy is unhealthy, women who remain active tend to have better cardiac reserves and better metabolisms which may be of benefit during labour," she adds.

Myth #3: Athletic women should stop working out.

Nah. This is BS. While it's obviously important to remember that pregnancy is not a time to reach a PB in the gym, athletic women should be able to continue working out, so long as they don't have a medical condition or complications.

"As long as a pregnancy is low risk and the woman under the care of her doctor, she may continue to exercise as long as she’s safely able to do so," said Dr Joshi.

Watch the trailer for 'The Delivery Room', Mamamia's new podcast all about birth stories. Post continues after video. 


Video via Mamamia.

Myth #4: It's too dangerous to lift weights. 

This is a biggie. There is so much misinformation out there surrounding lifting weights when you're pregnant, but experts say that if you feel up to it - great! You do you, boo - lift those weights!

"There are no real restrictions unless one exercises in a way pre-pregnancy that may be hazardous while pregnant e.g. gymnastics, rock climbing, hot yoga," said Dr Joshi.

Myth #5: You shouldn't work out every day.

According to Mason, you should aim to be physically active on most days, preferably all days of the week.

"RANCOG recommends aiming to accumulate 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week, which averages out to about 30 minutes per day," she said. 

"Two strengthening exercises per week on non-consecutive days is a great goal to aim for - so long as you have clearance from your healthcare professional, and only if you feel up to it. Listen to your body and do what feels right for you!"

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Listen to this episode of The Delivery Room, where Jessie Stephens learns all about hypnobirthing. Post continues after podast. 

Myth #6: It's not safe to return to exercise for a while after having a baby.

"Generally most women will have their 6-week post-birth check for herself and her baby. At this appointment your doctor (your GP or OB) will conduct a mental (how’re you’re coping) and physical examination - including of your abdominal muscles, your pelvic floor and healing of any tears/scars and offer a cervical screening test if you’re due," said Dr Joshi.

"They’ll also ask about common symptoms post-birth, such as urinary incontinence and referral to a pelvic floor physiotherapist, if appropriate. This appointment is a good time to discuss exercise, and when you can resume and what/how much depending on your body. Remember that no two bodies or pregnancies are alike."

The bottom line? Always check in with your own trusted health professional for guidance instead of taking advice from Instagram or Google (we're all guilty). 

"There's a lot of policing of women’s bodies on a day-to-day basis and pregnancy seems to add to this sense of 'we know what’s right for (this pregnant person)' and related to it, a lot of well intended and unsolicited, unhelpful advice," said Dr Joshi.

And remember, you know your body better than others! If if feels right - go for it! If it doesn't, then stop.

Do you have any advice you'd like to share regarding pregnancy and exercise? Drop it in our comment section below.

Feature image: @yanyahgotitmade 

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