EXPERTS CHAT: TRAINING WHILST PREGNANT WITH EARN YOUR ROAST'S EMILY WILLIAMS
All-round wonder-woman Emily Williams isn't just someone I am lucky to call a friend, but an incredibly talented PT based in Brighton, sharing her extremely diverse range of knowledge across a range of sports and fitness.
I was delighted to find out Emily was expecting a baby, and was super keen to chat to her about training whilst pregnant, wondering how it evolves with someone as incredibly active as Emily, and the advice she has for any of you lucky mums to be who are wondering how to continue training whilst pregnant. Settle down for a read with the inspiring and awesome Emily Williams.
NB Always be sure to consult your doctor or midwife if pregnant before embarking on a training programme
MY BACKGROUND IN SPORT
I have always been an active person. From a young age I was forever throwing myself into things (quite literally …sorry Mum!) and wanting to try new sports. I competed in as many things as I could as a child and continuing to enjoy sport and competition into my late teens and early 20’s through snowboarding. It was this that really got me into ‘fitness’ as I started to take a real interest in what I was putting in my body and how to train to get the best performance and flexibility in my body.
AS A PT
My love for sport turned into a love for all things fitness and movement. After working in adverting in central London for 4 years, I lost my way in the world a little as I had no focus on a sport. I found this really hard and it resulted in a troubled few years of feeling very down and out of control. I felt like I’d really lost my identity and without looking after my body and focussing on what made me happy, I spiralled into a mess of really hating my body and mind. I decided enough was enough, I had to get some direction again, and the only thing I knew made me happy was being fit and active. I found my love again and genuinely believe getting a routine of training and setting some realistic goals saved me!
Becoming a PT was the best thing I have ever done and I have enjoyed every single moment from my PT training to today where I have a long list of clients that are benefiting from my relatable and realistic approach to health and fitness. Its extremely important to me that people get outside, breath some real air, clear their mind from the mess life can create and build a positive and realistic approach to becoming the best person they can be through correct exercise and nutrition.
I believe with all my heart that having a balanced lifestyle in your diet and training can heal so many stresses and mental ills.
Finding out I was pregnant this year was a wonderful surprise! Many of my clients have children and this only brings me closer to understanding their lives and bodies. Going through pregnancy and having a baby with give me a huge insight into the lives of so many women trying to get their post baby bodies in shape and understanding the biology of the female form. I’m so exited to go through this process (although slightly scared at times!) I’m looking forward to seeing how my body reacts and changes over this incredible journey.
IM PREGNANT! DOES THAT MEAN I CANT TRAIN ANYMORE?!
Finding out you are pregnant is NOT the end of the world for your body! You do not have to become a couch potato and forget about all goals and aspirations for the rest of your days! In fact… quite the opposite!
Whether you’re pre-baby body had a rippling six pack or exercise wasn’t even on the agenda for you, exercising during pregnancy is vital for a healthy mind, body and baby.
You just have to make a few adjustments to your usual training program and work towards maintenance rather than the gains! This is a time to feel more empowered than ever before.
As your baby starts to grow, the rectus abdominals muscles (the six pack) will separate in order to make room for the little sprog. This separation is called diastasis recti and can take some time to re-connect again after you have given birth. This is why people panic about training core during pregnancy, but DON’T PANIC! Having a strong core is very important for your posture and for giving birth so you can continue to do core work but only on the remaining abdominals, (Transverse, oblique’s, internal oblique’s). If you are unsure about any movements, don’t just guess!
WHAT CHANGES TRIMESTER BY TRIMESTER OCCUR TO THE BODY? HOW DOES THAT IMPACT TRAINING?
During the first trimester, so much is happening in your body. There is a tiny human making themselves comfortable and your hormones are having a party. I was quite lucky and felt pretty normal in terms of my energy and body. I WANTED to keep training as per usual and didn’t feel like I needed to really change my routine. However, I started to read a lot and soon realised that although I felt normal, I had to be a little careful and change a couple of things.
At the second and thirst trimester, your body is growing and growing and this will mean more changes to your routine. It is more important than ever to keep your pelvic floor and core strong for your posture, birth and recovery, but you will start to find movements become more difficult when your tummy starts gets in the way. It is also important not to let your heart rate get too high or your body temperature to increase too much. So hit the intense HIIT’s on the head and opt from some longer cardio based workouts or some slower circuits instead.
WHAT WOULD YOU RECOMMEND TO BE THE FIRST THING YOU DO WITH YOUR TRAINING REGIME WHEN YOU FIND OUT YOUR PREGNANT?
The first thing you should do when you find out your pregnant is read! There are so many different opinions out there about fitness during pregnancy and its up to you to work out yours! Once you have seen your midwife (around 7 weeks) she will be able to talk to you about exercise and nutrition and what you should do to keep you and your baby healthy.
You may feel unwell, sick or tired so continuing your fitness routine may be completely unrealistic right now, and that’s fine… it wont be like that forever.
Even if you feel 100% normal and able to continue your normal routine, it would be a good idea to leave your workouts knowing you have a little more in the tank. If you’re doing any contact sports such as martial arts, rugby or gymnastics, it would be wise to stop as you have a little human trying to make a nest, and too many harsh movements may make it difficult for him/her!
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF STAYING FIT WHILST PREGNANT, WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
There are countless benefits to staying fit and healthy during pregnancy, just as there are in life without a child! Keeping a healthy heart, body and mind should be taken even more seriously when it isn’t just you to think about. You want a chilled, healthy and happy baby and providing it with the best cocoon means maintaining a healthy body and mind.
ARE YOU FINDING IT HARD TO TRAIN WHILST PREGNANT?
My training has continued (almost) as normal and I have been able to workout through the whole of my 17 weeks of pregnancy. Many people don’t feel well enough to train through the first trimester but I advise getting out and doing what you can, even if it is just a 30 min walk. There’s a lot changing in your body at this stage such as increased heart rate, increased blood flow and this may cause dizziness or fatigue when working out. Listen to your body if it’s struggling, avoid the urge to ‘push through’. If your body is staying stop, then stop. Drop the gains chase and focus on making your body the best it can be for your baby. I’ve dropped the intensity of each workout down to about 70%, and I train 4-5 times a week rather than 6-7 times. You MUST listen to YOUR body and its limitations. If like me, you enjoy a physical challenge… get ready for the biggest physical challenge of your life and get your body and mind ready for child birth!
HOW DO YOU MANAGE TRAINING IN THE THIRD TRIMESTER WITH A BIG BUMP?
When your baby bump starts to get bigger, working out and movements will become. …different. I wont say hard, (mainly because I’m not there yet) but it will definitely be different and adapting to that will mean different things for different mums. You may have to move slower, take longer breaks and adapt some movements. But you can still get through it! So take your time and do what feels right. Put baby first and know that you can become the fittest you have ever been once the baby is born, but for now… you are your baby’s home and pushing for gains or PB’s isn’t the priority.
HOW LONG AFTER BIRTH UNTIL I CAN TRAIN AGAIN?
The recommended time to wait after childbirth is 6-8 weeks. This is for your body to get over the trauma of birth, for you abdominals to contract a little and for any tares (EEK!) to heal. This, like many other things you will hear, is a guideline and you should 100% listen to how you feel. If you are still not well after 6 weeks, do not feel like you must start training. Take things easy and be patient… having a tiny human to look after will soon have you up and active!
Thank you Emily and congratulations! Stay tuned - I will be dropping more from Emily, workouts you can do whilst pregnant, over the next few weeks!