MYTH #1: You shouldn’t workout during pregnancy if you were not in an exercise program prior to becoming pregnant.
FALSE: You can begin an exercise program while pregnant, even if you were not exercising before. Just be sure to clear it with your doctor. Exercise can start at any time as long as it builds gradually. Start slowly- 5-15 minutes- and build up to 30 minutes. Consistency is most important. For those who have never worked out before, walking and stretching are recommended in the first trimester.
TRUTH: Following a doctor’s approval, it’s recommended that pregnant women engage in 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise daily, five or more times a week.
MYTH #2: Pregnant women must keep their heart rate under 140 beats per minute during exercise.
FALSE: This is based on an old wives tale that everyone has the same maximum heart rate.
TRUTH: The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP) guidelines are the following
Age- Heart Rate Guidelines
Up to 20 years 140-155 bpm
20-29 yrs. 135-150 bpm
20-39 yrs. 130-145 bpm
An easier way…instead of counting beats per minutes is to use a simple talk test to assess intensity. You should be able to talk but unable to have a full conversation.
MYTH #3: Pregnant women should “eat for two.”
FALSE: This myth can lead to an unhealthy weight gain of the more than the recommended 11-16k. (25-35 lbs.) for the average healthy woman. When it comes to weight gain, underweight or overweight women may be advised differently by a doctor.
TRUTH: Pregnancy causes an increase in basal metabolic rate, which translates to a requirement of 300 additional daily calories to properly nourish an unborn baby. That is an additional snack or small meal. Eating small frequent meals including protein will help maintain blood sugar levels and ward off crazy cravings. Proper nutrition and exercise helps women maintain a healthy and appropriate weight gain during pregnancy. However, exercise should not be excessive nor should limiting food intake. Weight loss is not an appropriate goal during pregnancy.
Myth #4: It’s perfectly fine to work your abs during pregnancy.
FALSE: Abdominal exercises are limited during pregnancy. You do not want to be doing crunches and sit ups after the first trimester.
TRUTH: You shouldn’t be on your back for more than a couple of minutes following the first trimester. The reason is that the enlarged uterus may press against the vena cava (the main vein that returns blood flow to the mother and baby) and impede blood flow to the heart. Replace abdominal exercises done on your back with side-lying, seated and supine-incline alternatives after the 1st trimester. Avoid intense twisting or rotation of the abs. It is important to remember core includes abdominals and back extensors! It is especially important to train back extensors during pregnancy because they work hard to balance the extra weight and changes in centre of gravity.
MYTH #5: Kegels (pelvic floor exercises) are not necessary if you’re going to have a Caesarean.
FALSE: The most damage to the pelvic floor is caused during pregnancy—not delivery. Urinary incontinence is still an issue for C-section patients. To perform Kegels: Sit in any comfortable position and contract the pelvic floor muscles as if to stop the flow of urine. Hold three to five seconds, then release. Perform 20 repetitions daily.
Marissa Rubin is Pre- and Post-Natal Specialist through Can-Fit-Pro, with experience working with clients during and after pregnancy. The mother of a toddler with one on the way, Marissa works in the Ottawa area with Fleming Fitness.