I think I need to get out more! It is sad to say but I was so excited by the release of the new Sports Medicine Australia (SMA) guidelines* on exercise and pregnancy.
So what do the new guidelines mean for us in the studio?
Well the reason I am so excited the changes support what we have been advocating for years.
The first thing to note is that the statement by SMA is only aimed at women going through a bulk standard pregnancy with no complications, and to consult your health care provider (GP, OBGS, midwife or Physio) about physical activity during and after pregnancy. Which is as always sound advice!
The key changes to the current recommendations are:
- An increase in the amount of aerobic activity recommended (now 150 – 300 minutes per week!)
- During this aerobic activity you still should be able to talk (12 -14 on the BORG’s scale), with a special note that you should not be able to sing. Maybe I have been doing it wrong all these years and should have been trying to belt out a tune!!
- Types of exercise recommended
- Brisk walking/jogging/running (see my thoughts on running below), Cycling but only on a stationary bike, and swimming.
- The SMA have suggested moderate to vigorous exercise, which I find confusing as if I did vigorous exercise I would not be able to talk which is saying a lot! They also have said that every minute of vigorous exercise is equal to 2 minutes of moderate exercise.
- They have included light weights (I assume they are referring to hand weights) and resistance bands.
- As expected they have included the reasons not to exercise such as ruptured membranes and many other pregnancy complications.
- The other new addition is to avoid wide leg squats, lunges and unilateral leg exercise, anything that places excessive shearing or force on the pubic symphysis. Exercises which we have been avoiding in the studio for years for our pregnant clients!
At first I was shocked that they had put forward jogging as safe, but if you read the statement in full it states that there is actually no evidence to either say it is safe or not.
So really ladies, common sense should prevail, your pelvic floor is already under increased strain just with that extra baby and baby weight, why put it under further strain? We only get one pelvic floor please look after it! Experts advise not to bear down or strain when you go to the toilet as it puts your pelvic floor under too much pressure, so why run? There are lots of other types of exercise you can safely do during your pregnancy.
What about exercises using weights?
The SMA have now stated that anything that increases abdominal pressure is considered unsafe and have made a strong statement in regards to weight lifting being contra indicated during pregnancy.
This is great news as there have been lots of images of pregnant weight lifters giving people the impression it’s a safe exercise for pregnant mothers.
The amount of times I had to argue with people about this point as people say, “they did it before they were pregnant so they can do while they are pregnant.”
What about exercise during the post partum period?
I was quite disappointed in the lack of guidance for the post-partum period. I truly believe this is one of the most neglected areas around the whole giving birth process and we get so many women come into our studio who have injured themselves during this period as they have not been guided correctly.
Hopefully research and guidance for this will come in the next version of the guidelines. Until then we will continue to recommend safe exercises for our clients during pregnancy and the post partum period!
* The last update from the SMA guidelines was in 2014