Pregnancy and particularly childbirth, can be incredibly daunting. When we recognise that, however, we should also remember to recognise just how phenomenal it is. Just stop a second and take a moment to marvel at what women and their awesome bodies can do! Sure there are days when you feel too tired to move, but there are also days when you find you can do a workout, a full day’s work, three loads of laundry, cook dinner and mail that ‘thank you’ note that’s been bugging you and, at the same time….you are growing a whole human!
When I was carrying my first baby, I was pretty disappointed by the scaremongering around keeping fit while pregnant; the plethora of confusing and contradictory information; and the general lack of qualified support from across the industry.
I was lucky enough to able to draw on my pre/post-natal training, but at a time that can be tricky enough as it is, a lot of expectant mothers are left bewildered and too embarrassed to speak up. As the girls from my long-suffering Antenatal Class (the wonderful Bump Class) can testify – I became a passionate bore about trying to help ladies navigate their way through pregnancy fitness. Genuinely, I started accosting random women in group classes and my local gym, demonstrating modifications to moves we’d been doing and offering to answer what questions I could.
Every pregnancy is different and there is no cookie-cutter approach that’s going to work for everyone. I’m not about to tell you exactly how to workout – although I will if you ask! – and you might find the following doesn’t resonate with you, and that’s ok. The most important person to listen to during pregnancy is yourself.
What follows is a list of useful information complied from things I wanted to know; things I was asked; things I researched; and things that clients and other fitness professionals have recommended. I hope you find it useful and that it might at least save you a few hours on Google – enjoy!
Pregnancy Fitness Gear:
Leggings/Shorts - Obviously as you grow your bump, your workout wear needs to accommodate it. Equally, I didn’t want to buy kit that I would only wear for a few months, so I tried to find solutions among mainstream brands. Some people prefer to tuck their bump into their leggings in which case, Varley are great for high waisted styles without being too constrictive. Generally, you’ll probably find models marketed for ‘Yoga’ rather than ‘running or training’ work best. Others prefer bottoms that go under their bumps, in which case I found Sweaty Betty and Adidas to be the best. Lululemon’s different length shorts are excellent for still allowing good coverage of a growing bump without feeling like you’ve got a wedgie
Shoes – This is probably not the time to change the model you’re wearing unless they’re really unsupportive. If you’re used to a barefoot model and want to keep running outdoors, you might want to get some more cushioned ones to bear the extra weight, but try not to get anything that changes the drop. If you are feeling you’d like a bit more support, Brooks are excellent and have a wider variation of midsole drops than most brands, although my all time favourite for cushioning without adding additional weight are On Running
Sports bras – You’re probably expecting your cup size to increase, but be aware that as the burgeoning baby takes up more space and moves your lungs around, your chest size may also grow. I used Brooks for sports bras as they have a number of models (like this one) which is fully adjustable with Velcro and so continued to accommodate a changing shape. An unexpected but added bonus was that it actually worked as a nursing bra for breastfeeding!
Outdoor gear – if you haven’t discovered already, regulating your temperature during pregnancy is basically impossible. If you’re an outdoors lover like me, then that means lots of layers! The North Face do a fantastic range of super lightweight thermals which will keep you snug outside, but are easy to carry around when you start getting too hot
Fitness Classes: If you have ANY serious concerns about working out when pregnant, speak to your GP and get their clearance first, even if only for your own peace of mind.
If you’re used to working up a sweat on a regular basis, jump straight to the below list.
If finding out you’re expecting has spurred you into action on the fitness front, good for you, keep going! If this is you, I’d recommend doing a couple of sessions first with a pre-natal qualified PT. They will be able to assess what fitness goals are realistic for you, show you a series of modifications and recommend local classes.
Barry’s Bootcamp – Anya Lahiri and Tee von Zitzewitz: out of anyone I’ve come across, these guys really know what they’re doing. They can seamlessly show you safe but effective modifications, without skipping a beat in the flow of the class, and without making you feel like the odd woman out. They are endlessly kind and patient with client questions and they’re two of the fittest and nicest mums on the planet
Mumhood – FRAME studios have a great programme called ‘Mumhood’ which allows you to stream workouts at home if you can’t, or don’t feel like making it to the gym. Perfect if you’re feeling a little groggy or self-conscious
Form Studios – Form’s Pure MOTR class is an excellent, low impact workout that helps mummies-to-be develop and maintain muscular strength. It uses resistance cables so you’re not throwing heavy weights around, and unlike most classes, they incorporate specific balance and postural work which is essential for the later stages in pregnancy
Spinning – I didn’t find indoor cycling that comfortable during my own pregnancy, but I know a lot of people love it and I did take a couple of good classes. If this is your jam, Tara Margulies at Core Collective is a really safe pair of hands as is Marion Pearce at Psycle.
Don’t go if you don’t feel like it, this is not the time to be riddled with guilt for missing a class
If you’re feeling like you need to move but you can’t face a loud, sweaty studio – try plugging in a podcast and going for a walk instead. My antenatal classes, The Bump Class, do a seriously useful podcast on all things pregnancy and parenthood if you want to get a head start
Speak up. The truth is, not all trainers are sure of what you should and shouldn’t be doing during different stages of pregnancy. Stick to the advice of people you trust and if you’re not sure about something, say so
You know your own body better than anyone else ever will. Do NOT do anything you don’t feel comfortable doing
If you’re unsure about the suitability of a class altogether, maybe contact the trainer on social media and check that they’re able to make adjustments for you. Most of the time they’ll be really encouraging, but I’ve had a couple of clients that were asked to leave classes which is hugely demoralising and upsetting
Hope some of that is helpful, send me thoughts on anything you think should be added to the list and look out for Part II of the post on Pregnancy Yoga, Recovery and Travel X