How to exercise when pregnant

Expect advice on staying in shape when expecting

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Expecting a baby but confused about how to stay fit? We quiz an expert on prenatal exercise.

Just because you’re with child, doesn’t mean you have to ditch your workout routine. That being said, you shouldn’t exactly be hitting hardcore bootcamp either. Instead, prenatal exercise is a great way to stay healthy while meeting other expectant mothers. Shahinal Dean, unit nurse manager of obstetrics at Burjeel Hospital in the nation’s capital, recommends gentle exercise for expectant mothers.

‘I recommend prenatal exercise, although there are caveats to that as it depends on medical conditions – always consult your physician prior to exercising,’ she says. But healthy women who are experiencing a complication-free pregnancy should also do gentle exercise such as cycling, aqua aerobics, Pilates or yoga.

‘You can continue doing sport during pregnancy – as long as you have a history of doing it.

We don’t recommend women start a new high-impact sport because you already have the pressure of the baby in your pelvis, your hips are stretched and your ligaments are looser – your body is changing already, so exerting yourself on top of that could potentially cause an injury.’

Prenatal classes are safe for most pregnant women, Shahinal reassures us. ‘You can start the classes anywhere from 12 weeks right up until delivery – we don’t have strict guidelines on when you should stop. We recommend listening to your body. You can do Pilates and yoga until your 40th week because it strengthens your core and helps you relax.’

Kirstin Higham has tried classes at Bodytree Studio in the UAE. ‘You meet a lot of mums-to-be or even better, second-time mums, who share their stories, experiences and give you a tonne of great advice that you would otherwise miss out on. Everyone is at different stages, so there is always someone who has been through it all before. The classes also meant I had an established network of mum friends when my son was born, and I still rely on these women for advice and support today.’

For those considering prenatal classes, the owner of the studio, Natasha, says there are a myriad of benefits. ‘Working your abdominal muscles in a safe way during pregnancy has been known to aid and decrease lower back pain,’ she says. ‘Being on all fours, extending opposite arm and legs and holding for a few seconds is a great way to do this. Strengthening your pelvic floor muscles is also beneficial to aid delivery and reduce incontinence post birth.’


Classes around the city

Zen Yoga
Working mums-to-be can head over to the Media City branch after clocking off and partake in an hour-and-a-half of prenatal yoga, where the focus is on stamina and holding poses.
Dubai Media City (04 367 0435).

Fit 4 Two
This post and prenatal fitness centre offers classes in everything from stroller fitness to mum and baby fitness, as well as prenatal exercise.
Various locations across Dubai, www.fit4two.ca.

Exhale Fitness
A venue in the heart of JBR offering prenatal Pilates classes for expectant mums. Pilates is ideal for pregnant women, as it strengthens the entire body with a focus on the muscles that support the pelvis and spine during labour.
Murjan 1, Plaza Level The Walk, JBR (04 424 3777).

Dubai Ladies Club
Head here for group aqua aerobics classes, which are ideal for prenatal and post-natal women.
www.dubailadiesclub.com.com (050 349 2336).

Top tips

Shahinal recommends:
• Seek medical advice before you begin

• Inform your instructor you are pregnant

•Listen to your body

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