Triathletes or pregnant runners don’t worry, with a slight modification to your training regimen, you can continue to practice your sport during pregnancy. Although a medical examination in early pregnancy is essential to rule-out any potential contra-indications, it is beneficial for you and your baby to stay active!
According to the Canadian Academy of Sports and Exercise Medicine, only the following at-risk pregnancies and conditions would prohibit being active during pregnancy:
The presence of an eating disorder, anemia, twin pregnancy after 28 weeks as well as premature labour remain conditions to monitor during an active pregnancy. Ask your doctor to complete the PARmed-X questionnaire to demystify any questions.
Got the “OKAY” to keep moving? Canadian recommendations state that 30 to 40 minutes of moderate activity 3 to 4 times a week is adequate. Moderate activity is described as an exercise in which you can carry out a conversation but still feel slightly out of breath. For triathlon, some particularities are to be considered depending on the sport.
Running: Keep the intensity from light to moderate. Opt for a sports bra with more support and an elastic band for the belly. Pay special attention to your pelvic floor. If you feel pain or loss of urine, stop the activity. In order to avoid this problem, Kegel exercises are highly recommended.
Cycling: It is recommended to stop outdoor cycling after 20 weeks, especially to avoid the risk of falls. Nothing prevents the practice of indoor cycling however.
Swimming: By far the safest sport for the entire duration of pregnancy. At the end of the third trimester, you will appreciate the anti-gravity effect of the water.
Core exercises: Avoid exercises that require lying on your back as early as the 16th week of gestation. The “plank” is also to be banned at the end of pregnancy, but can be modified for a side plank.
All of these recommendations are meant for the general population. If you’re a long-time athlete used to endurance training and wish to move more, in the absence of health or pregnancy-related problems, don’t hesitate to extend the duration of sessions while keeping the intensity light. Make sure to discuss this with your doctor, but if you do mild physical activity, you will be able to feed your need for endorphins while benefiting both you and your baby!
After your delivery, wait for your 6-week postpartum medical visit to begin low intensity exercises (note that rest time is prolonged following a caesarean section). The green light is usually given for cycling and swimming, while for running and core exercises, a follow-up with a physiotherapist is strongly suggested in order to guide you in the progression of the exercises.
Throughout your pregnancy, pay particular attention to your diet, hydration, add more rest and if you experience abdominal pain, shortness of breath, bleeding or weakness, stop the physical activity and consult your doctor.
Happy training moms!
Dr Melissa Rattue, CMFC, MU, sports med specialist CASEM