Exercising during pregnancy can be a little overwhelming. Is it safe for the baby, should you be doing less, maybe more? This week on the blog we chat to Jennifer Edmonds, a Pilates Instructor, Personal Trainer and mama-to-be. Read on for pregnancy exercise advice, myths set straight and top tips on how to listen to your body as it changes.
Originally from Sydney but currently living in Bangkok, Thailand, Jennifer is a Pilates Instructor & Personal Trainer with 10 years’ industry experience. Her interest in fitness began after 12 years as a competitive figure skater & gymnast. After working in a corporate environment for several years & battling some ongoing back pain, her passion for Pilates led her to become certified in 2009. She has worked extensively in pre-post natal training. Through her teaching, Jennifer aims to provide balanced, well-rounded workouts that inspire others to continue with a healthy lifestyle.
Could you tell us a bit about your current role and how you came to be in it?
I’m a Pilates Instructor & personal trainer from Sydney, Australia, but I currently live & work in Bangkok. I moved here 2 1/2 years ago & luckily I was able to find work very easily. 90% of my clients are Thai which has been a great challenge in many ways, but really enjoyable.
What most inspires you?
Seeing my clients grow & improve through their training. It’s incredible to watch people with pain & injuries return to normal function through exercise. I’m also constantly inspired by so many trainers I meet from around the world who are passionate about what they do. There is always someone new to learn from.
What’s your favourite form of exercise?
Pilates. It’s been the one constant in my training for the last 15 years. I enjoy many forms of exercise but Pilates is something I’ll come back to most regularly.
How has your exercise regime changed since becoming pregnant?
In many ways! I was shocked at how much my body changed in such a short time, even in the first trimester where I found walking up a flight of stairs almost impossible! Since then I’ve felt better but I’ve had to really reduce the intensity & frequency of my workouts.
Why is it important to keep exercising during pregnancy?
There are so many benefits to maintaining a healthy exercise regime while pregnant. Regular training will help increase your energy levels, increase strength to help prevent back pain from poor posture, improve your sleep, may decrease your risk of developing gestational diabetes & will keep you fit for labor & getting your body back in shape after the baby is born. Imagine if you weren’t pregnant & decided just to stop exercising for 9 months - starting up again would be very challenging! I’ve been training pre & post-natal women for the last 10 years & find that those that kept exercising regularly during their pregnancy have a much faster recovery period.
What would your top tips be for exercising during pregnancy?
Firstly, see your doctor & get clearance to exercise. There are some rare, but serious, conditions which preclude some pregnant women from working out. Secondly, be prepared to scale back your training. Reducing intensity by 30% is a good guide, but every pregnancy is different - listen to your body & recognise what feels right for you. You should always be able to maintain a conversation while working out, as opposed to being completely out of breath. Avoid high intensity exercise that causes you to overheat, and be careful lifting weights that are too heavy. Lastly, find yourself a good trainer who is specifically qualified in pre-natal training. Don’t follow a plan you found online or continue your regular training without advice.
What are the myths surrounding exercise during pregnancy?
That you need to avoid exercise completely during the first trimester. Of course, you need to be careful as to what you do, but for most women training at the beginning of pregnancy has many benefits. I found a gentle walk or low-intensity pilates or yoga session really helped settle my morning sickness. I’ve also had lots of clients say they’ve heard they can’t get their heart rate over 140bpm or lift any weights at all. Again, this is very individual & not true for everyone.
What are your top self-care tips for pregnancy?
Take some time to do what your body is telling you & don’t feel guilty about it. If you need to nap in the afternoon, find somewhere quiet & take 30 minutes. While diet is important during pregnancy, if you’re really craving that extra slice of bread or bowl of ice cream, eat up. And lastly, embrace all the offers you’ll get for help! Let your partner take out the rubbish, let people stand for you on public transport & enjoy that lie-in on Sunday.