Pregnant? Congratulations! Here are a few tips to help you feel your best

how to keep fit during pregnancy
Samantha Simmonds,-Digital Writer

Pregnancies are a wild ride. No two are the same, but there are smart ways you can stay strong, fit and healthy…

When you’re pregnant, rest and relaxation are crucial. But the NHS says that staying active can also have benefits, from boosting your energy and relieving stress to supporting your baby’s developing brain and heart, and preparing you for labour and parenthood.

Knowing what you should and shouldn’t be doing to take the best care of you and your baby can be confusing, though. Want sensible advice you can actually follow?

From fitness apps to ‘baby barre’ and pregnancy yoga, our prenatal nutrition and fitness experts share top tips on eating and exercising for a healthy pregnancy.

Tuck in

It’s important not to be too hard on yourself if you can’t always eat as well as you’d like, but there are a few key nutrients to look out for.

Charlotte Stirling-Reed, registered nutritionist, founder of SR Nutrition and a specialist in baby and child nutrition, explains:

  • Iron helps deliver oxygen to your multiplying cells. Find it in fortified cereals, red meat, lentils, nuts and seeds
  • Calcium is important for baby’s bones and your own. You’ll find it in dairy products and fortified alternatives, fish with bones and leafy green veggies 
  • Iodine is crucial for brain development, but research suggests that pregnant women often fall short on this important nutrient. In the UK, it’s mainly found in dairy products and seafood, but you also get small amounts in nuts, fruit and, yes, veg
  • Omega-3 is key, especially in the third trimester when a lot of brain development takes place. It’s primarily found in oily fish – salmon, sardines and mackerel

A balanced, varied diet provides the best foundation for a healthy pregnancy. In the UK, pregnant women are advised to take 10mcg of vitamin D and 400mcg of folic acid a day. If you follow a plant-based diet, you may benefit from taking a pregnancy multivitamin that contains iron, iodine and calcium. If you don’t eat oily fish, it’s worth adding an algae-based omega-3 supplement.

While you don’t actually have to eat for two (sob), you do need around 200 additional calories a day in the final trimester. At every stage, keep healthy snacks in your bag so you can quickly boost your energy levels.

‘I snacked on nuts, seeds and raisins throughout pregnancy,’ Charlotte says. ‘I also made an effort to top my meals up with fresh fruits and nut butters.’ Some of her favourite snacks and light meals include:

Keep on moving

While many mums-to-be have concerns about exercising, a growing body of research suggests myriad benefits for you and your baby. Check with your doctor or midwife first, follow the guidance of a prenatal specialist and listen to your body.

‘Working on your physical and mental health at this time is essential,’ explains Emily Williams, a pre and postnatal fitness expert and mother who has shared her pregnancy fitness journey on YouTube.

‘Think of exercise during pregnancy as time for you to check in with your feelings and connect with your baby. It will give you energy, relieve stress, help with aches and pains, and aid sleep. It’s self-care.’ Emily, you had us at ‘sleep’.

Another good reason to get active? Research suggests women who exercise during pregnancy tend to have shorter, easier labours with a lower risk of complications. 

If you already lead an active lifestyle, it’s often safe to maintain your exercise routine (we’re talking non-contact sports, running, yoga and dancing) for as long as you feel comfortable. If you’re less active, a daily walk is a great start. 

Don’t get into running when pregnant if you didn’t do it before as the pregnancy hormone relaxin makes you prone to injury. If you do yoga or Pilates at home, avoid lying on your back after 16 weeks, skip exercises that include changing your breathing, any stretches that put you under strain, and back bends or strong twists.

‘Each day, give yourself a five or 10-minute window to stop and check in with how you feel,’ Emily says. ‘Fill this time with walking, dancing, gentle yoga… anything that makes you feel good. Once those five or 10 minutes feel comfortable, you can increase the duration, frequency and intensity.

‘If something doesn't feel good, comfortable or safe, stop.’

Prenatal exercise classes worth the effort

From in-studio yoga to live-stream Pilates and on-demand strength and cardio workouts, we love these classes, all carefully designed to help mums-to-be reap the benefits of exercise at every stage of pregnancy.

The Bump Plan
Created by award-winning Pilates instructor and personal trainer Hollie Grant, aka the Pilates PT, the Bump Plan is an evidence-based training regime that combines low-impact cardio with pregnancy-specific Pilates.

‘Pilates focuses on posture, strength and flexibility,’ Hollie says. ‘It will prepare your body for labour, postnatal recovery and the demands of dealing with a newborn, and make you feel strong, capable and empowered.’

Get tailored workouts, live classes, community events and more for £35 a month. 

PBB BabyBarre
Created by celebrity fitness trainer Paola Di Lanzo, PBB’s award-winning fusion of barre, Pilates and low-impact cardio has won it a huge following Suitable for all stages of pregnancy as well as new mums, it promises to help you build the stamina needed for labour.

‘Pilates activates, strengthens and stabilises key muscles and joints, which guards against injury, assists with the birthing process and helps you regain strength and stamina afterwards,’ Paola says. ‘It will support your immune system, circulation and energy levels, and training your breath can also help you to manage painful contractions.’

PBB BabyBarre starts from £60 for five classes.

Triyoga pregnancy yoga
Whether you’re well-versed on the benefits of a downward dog or twopractising yoga during pregnancy can boost circulation, ease aches and help to prepare you for giving birth. If you can’t make it to one of Triyoga’s London studios, try a livestream in the comfort of your own home. 

Triyoga’s pregnancy yoga classes are open to all levels, from complete beginners to experienced yoga students, from the second trimester onward. From £9 for a single livestream class.

Get-fit kit for mums-to-be

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