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Sport: how to exercise during pregnancy? – Well-being Athletes 

During pregnancy, some women do not dare to continue their sporting activity, for fear of the risks for the baby or for lack of knowledge of good gestures. However, physical activity remains largely beneficial. Which sports should be preferred? Their benefits? The right sports reflexes to adopt? Answers.

Pregnancy is accompanied by physical, physiological and hormonal upheavals that are experienced differently from one woman to another. One thing is certain: moving regularly is recommended to relieve the minor inconveniences of pregnancy and experience it more serenely, whether or not you are athletic. “The advice of a gynecologist or a midwife remains an essential key to starting or continuing any sporting activity. This ensures that there is no “absolute medical contraindication”, such as a risk of premature delivery, placenta previa (abnormal localization of the placenta), intrauterine growth retardation or even of premature rupture of membranes, ”explains Marlène Barlier, midwife and teacher of prenatal and postnatal Pilates at Cabinet Bien Naître in Vanves.

Sport and pregnancy: a virtuous circle

Chez June, yoga studio in Nantes

Lucie Albert, 33, is the mother of two daughters aged 4 and 20 months. Runner and lover of group lessons, she had seen fit to stop sport during her first pregnancy. “I had the wrong idea of ​​what to do. After the birth of my first daughter, I returned to sport and cross-training courses. By educating myself and discovering Instagram accounts of ” fit mums “, I discovered that it was quite possible to continue sport during pregnancy, unless there is a medical contraindication, ”she explains.

Marlène Barlier confirms that there are many benefits to be derived from regular physical activity. She lists them:

  • maintaining endurance and muscle mass, to better manage labor and childbirth,
  • reduction of the ailments of pregnancy: better transit, less constipation, better circulation (and therefore less risk of hemorrhoids and varicose veins), reduction of stress and better quality sleep,
  • reduction of back pain: “women practicing sports continue to strengthen their postural muscles”,
  • limitation of weight gain: “regular sporting activity controls weight gain towards the end of pregnancy and facilitates a return to pre-pregnancy weight after childbirth. For the baby, it is proven that this decreases the risk of fetal macrosomia (big baby) ”,
  • prevention and reduction of the risks of gestational diabetes: “the risk is reduced by half if the person practices sports before pregnancy and this is recommended for women with this pathology”,
  • improvement of mental and physical well-being: “women can better understand changes in the body during pregnancy and push back the risks of post-partum depression”. Sport promotes the release of endorphin, the famous hormone of happiness!

Lucie found this virtuous circle pregnant with her second daughter, training until she was 6 months pregnant. “Continuing to exercise delayed the onset of fatigue and back pain. He gave me energy! “. Her exercise routine consisted of doing “strength training, cardio and stretching” once or twice a week. “I kept running and going to my cross training classes. I warned my coach who adapted a few movements. I avoided the jump rope and the abs which made my stomach ache. But I was able to continue all the lighter exercises without a problem, ”she says. Lucie praises the “hyper positive” impact of the practice on “self-esteem”: “I was proud to be able to continue sport during pregnancy and to show others that I continued. I have communicated a lot around me on the fact that it is possible and that it must be done. “

Pauline, mother of Romy, 7 months old, preaches, also to her female entourage, the advantages of sport during pregnancy. She mixed yoga, prenatal yoga and aquabike: “I practiced until the end, until 8 and a half months of pregnancy, because I gave birth early. I was doing aquabike four days before I gave birth, ”she says. This yoga enthusiast believes that she drew on these sports habits for energy gain and greater flexibility. “I enjoyed stretching to counter the little ailments of pregnancy, such as sciatica. It was nice to keep moving and feeling good about my body, active. During the prenatal yoga class, I liked the little tips for childbirth. For example, the postures which relieve during contractions or which help in everyday life while pregnant (getting up well, using the birthing cushion to sleep comfortably, etc.) ”.

Sports and pregnancy: the right reflexes

Chez June, yoga studio

Whatever her sporting choices, Marlène Barlier details the right reflexes to train without risk:

  • Stay hydrated, because “water requirements naturally increase during pregnancy”. It is therefore important to stay hydrated to accompany the practice of sport, all the more so in periods of extreme heat and to ensure that you have sufficient and appropriate energy intake. You should not skip meals. For example, breakfast is important before you exercise.
  • Exercise in a well ventilated environment, as the body temperature rises during pregnancy.
  • Warm up a few minutes before each session to gently prepare the body and plan for recovery time, during or after the session.
  • Manage the intensity of the session. A simple tip: “Avoid arguing during exercise so as not to make the activity too intense and unsuitable for pregnancy.”
  • Stay regular. The right frequency? “The ideal would be to practice a daily activity, even if it is walking. Otherwise, it is advisable to do physical activity three times a week, or even four to five sessions of milder activity per week, if possible. On the “timing” side, do not exceed 50 minutes per session ”.
  • Listening to her body: “every pregnant woman must remain vigilant. In the event of uterine contractions, breathing difficulties, bleeding, headaches or dizziness and loss of amniotic fluid, stop the practice and consult a health professional ”.

“While each pregnancy is different, there is one constant: adapting sports and listening to your feelings is essential,” insists the midwife. Advice followed by Pauline and Lucie. “You have to trust each other,” says Pauline. Once you have the green light from your doctor, you can continue to play sports, provided you are well supervised and at your own pace. It’s also a good time to discover new sports like yoga and Pilates, ”she suggests. Lucie agrees: “you have to listen to yourself without putting pressure on yourself”.

Good sports during pregnancy

To each their own formula! It’s up to you to compose your own “fitness routine” according to your needs and desires. However, certain sports are not recommended: “All activities that could cause trauma to the stomach,” explains Marlène Barlier. The prohibited activities are: scuba diving (the only sport formally contraindicated), contact or wrestling sports (boxing, judo, karate, football, handball, etc.), sports with a risk of falling (horseback riding, downhill skiing, surfing, hockey, road cycling, etc.). What about running? “While it is not advisable to start running during pregnancy, regular and more athletic people can run on average up to 5 months of pregnancy.”

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