In today’s health-conscious society, we are all aware of the benefits that regular exercise offer. Whether it be heart and lung function, muscle tone or as an outlet to improve mental health, working up a sweat on a regular basis is great for your overall health and wellbeing – but what about as an antidote to morning sickness?
Morning sickness is a common term used to describe nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, typically occurring in the early stages of pregnancy. However, it's worth noting that it can occur at any time of day, not just in the morning, despite its name.
Experiencing nausea and pregnancy can be difficult, but could regular exercise be the remedy your body craves?
Common symptoms of morning sickness
Morning sickness symptoms vary from person to person, ranging from mild to severe.
Some of the most common symptoms include: Nausea, Vomiting, Fatigue, Abdominal discomfort, Weight loss and aversions to certain foods and smells.
The role of exercise in pregnancy
Just as exercise poses many benefits to our daily lives when we are not pregnant, when you are on a pregnancy journey the benefits of regular and safe exercise can be transformative.
These are some of the best reasons to exercise during pregnancy:
1. Physical health - Your body goes through extreme physical changes during pregnancy, so maintaining good physical health through exercise is important. Regular, moderate aerobic exercise can improve cardiovascular fitness, making it easier to cope with the physical demands of pregnancy and labour, while pelvic floor and core muscle exercises can help in reducing backaches and improving posture.
For gentle exercise we recommend: swimming, walking, yoga and pilates. If considering taking part in classes it's a good idea to attend classes that are specifically for antenatal / pregnancy and make sure the instructor has their Pregnancy Fitness Instructor qualification. If attending your local gym classes - let the instructor know you are pregnant.
2. Mental health and wellbeing - The changes occurring in the body during pregnancy, not to mention the impending changes of welcoming a new life into the world, can cause stress for many women. Exercise stimulates the production of endorphins, which can help alleviate stress and improve mood. Regular physical activity can also contribute to better sleep patterns, which can be challenging during pregnancy.
A great way to get those pregnancy endorphins going is to go for a leisurely stroll in the countryside, we recommend taking a little sweet snack with you just incase you start to feel a little lightheaded as pregnancy can have an effect on blood pressure and also very importantly take a bottle of water with you to stay hydrated.
3. Preparation for labour and delivery - Many women find the prospect of labour extremely daunting, and if you are worried, feeling as though you are taking steps to prepare yourself for this can help.
Building endurance through exercise can be beneficial during the labour process, which can be physically intense and lengthy. Certain forms of exercise, like prenatal yoga, will teach breathing techniques that are helpful during labour and pregnancy pilates will help with strengthening the core and also the all important preparing and lengthening the pelvic floor.
Does exercise help with morning sickness?
When you are experiencing morning sickness, regardless of how severe it is, you are likely to be keen to find remedies. Morning sickness relief comes in many forms, and it’s thought that some forms of exercise may help to alleviate the feelings of nausea associated with morning sickness.
Some research has suggested that exercise taken outdoors may help with feelings of nausea and sickness when compared to exercise carried out in indoor settings, such as a gym or fitness studio. Because exercise can enhance blood circulation, which may help reduce feelings of nausea. Proper blood flow can also aid in digestion, potentially lessening the severity of morning sickness, also some pregnant women find that gentle exercise can stimulate their appetite.
Types of exercise to consider
Priorities change when you are pregnant, so it’s normal your reasons to want to exercise can to change too. You may be less focused on the aesthetic benefits of exercise and may instead be seeking out movement that will help to lessen your morning sickness symptoms and benefit your pregnancy journey.
It’s important to trial different forms of movement, but its important to always seek guidance and advice from healthcare professionals before changing your exercise regime.
We’ve rounded up a range of safe exercises for pregnant women, so you’re sure to find something that’s your speed:
Perhaps the most common and easily adopted in terms of exercise routines (not to mention great for postpartum movement), walking is a safe and effective low-impact exercise that can be done throughout pregnancy.
It helps improve cardiovascular fitness, maintain a healthy weight and reduce swelling in the legs. Walking in nature is great as part of a self-care routine, and after a stretch of the legs why not wind down with a long hot soak in the bath?
Myrtle & Maude have your back for after your walk or a long day on your feet!!
We have formulated a 'Pregnancy Therapeutic Bath Soak' which is an ideal bath time companion, with soothing and calming properties, which then can be perfectly finished off with our soothing Stretch Mark Oil for the perfect evening routine sure to leave you feeling your absolute best and complete your pregnancy pamper session nicely.
Swimming and water aerobics are excellent choices because they provide buoyancy and support for your growing belly and relieve pressure on your joints. Swimming whilst pregnant can also help with overall fitness and alleviate backache and swelling.
3. Antenatal Yoga
Antenatal yoga classes are designed specifically for pregnant women. These classes focus on flexibility, relaxation, and breathing techniques, which can be particularly useful during labour and delivery. Be sure to choose a class that is led by a certified antenatal / pregnancy yoga instructor.
4. Antenatal Pilates
Antenatal Pilates can help strengthen your core, improve posture, and enhance flexibility. Make sure to attend classes specifically tailored to pregnant women, as some traditional Pilates exercises may need to be modified.
5. Stationary Cycling
When you’re after a sweatier fitness session, riding a stationary bike can provide a low-impact cardiovascular workout without putting stress on your joints. Ensure that the bike is adjusted properly to accommodate your baby bump and changing body.
When to avoid exercise during pregnancy
Safety should always be your number one priority when pregnant, so while exercising during pregnancy is generally encouraged and beneficial for most women, there are certain situations and conditions where exercise should be avoided or modified.
It's crucial to consult with your healthcare provider before starting or continuing an exercise program during pregnancy. They can provide personalised guidance based on your individual health, pregnancy, and medical history.
It's important to note that every pregnancy is unique, and what is safe for one person may not be safe for another. Always consult with your healthcare provider before making any decisions about exercise during pregnancy and follow their guidance closely.
If you suffer from any of the below points you should gain advice from your midwife or doctor...
Certain Medical Conditions: If you have certain medical conditions, such as heart disease, lung disease, cervical insufficiency, placenta previa, preeclampsia, or a history of preterm labour, your healthcare provider may advise against exercise or recommend specific modifications.
Multiple Gestation (Twins or More): If you are carrying multiple babies, you should consult with your healthcare provider about the type and amount of exercise that is safe for your pregnancy. In some cases, modified and lower-impact exercises, such as swimming and walking, may be recommended.
Vaginal Bleeding: If you experience any vaginal bleeding during pregnancy, you should avoid exercise and seek immediate medical attention.
Conditions where exercise could worsen morning sickness
Sometimes exercise can worsen your morning sickness symptoms, so it’s important to be mindful to avoid any strenuous forms of movement. It's essential to be cautious and attentive to your body's signals.
Here are some conditions and circumstances where exercise could potentially worsen morning sickness:
Extreme fatigue: If you are already feeling extremely fatigued in your pregnancy, vigorous exercise could further deplete your energy levels and make you feel more nauseous. If you are suffering with fatigue swap out your antenatal workouts for additional naps and consider other forms of self-care, such as reading, journaling or long baths.
Dehydration: Exercise increases the risk of dehydration, which can worsen morning sickness. It's crucial to stay well-hydrated before, during, and after exercise.
Myrtle & Maude are here to support you on this one as we have a range of trimester herbal teas to keep you hydrated throughout your pregnancy and in postpartum that you can have hot or cold....
Working out on an empty stomach: An empty stomach is one of the common morning sickness triggers, so exercising on an empty stomach may trigger or exacerbate nausea. Eating a small, easily digestible snack before exercise can help prevent this.
Intense or strenuous workouts: High-intensity workouts, such as vigorous aerobic exercise or heavy weightlifting, can put additional strain on your body and in some cases may lead to lightheadedness and vomiting. Avoid this by adopting a low impact, slow and steady approach to exercise.
Alternative Pregnancy Sickness Remedies
The truth is we are not all gym bunnies and pregnancy is tough, especially the exhaustion levels in the first and third trimester, exercise may have not be one of your top priorities - and this is fine, we are all different!
The doctor/midwife may have even advised that you are not to exercise during your pregnancy or you are exercising and it's just not helping your morning sickness if this is the case 'Myrtle & Maude' are here to support you and combat the nausea.
We have a range of natural pregnancy sickness products and we would recommend our 'BEST SELLER'... Myrtle & Maude's Peppermint Oil Vitamin B6 Bon Bons which have helped many pregnant mummas through the queasy days and helped to take the edge of the nausea!
Pregnancy and wellness go hand in hand, and if exercise has always been a part of your daily life, there’s no reason that growing a baby should put your healthy habits on hold.
Equally, if you have never been a gym bunny or one for strenuous sweat sessions, don’t use pregnancy as an excuse for overhauling your lifestyle. Instead, practise gentle movement, do what feels right and never continue with any routine that makes your morning sickness worse and stop if you feel dizzy and lightheaded.
Above all, seek support for medical professionals who can offer you tailored, relevant advice. Exercise should always be a pleasure and never feel like a chore, pregnant or not!