We must normalise exercise in pregnancy — and not just yoga

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When I was pregnant with Freya, I looked around at the prenatal fitness industry and felt that it was really lacking. It wasn’t very motivating.

There’s a lot of pregnancy yoga, but if you’re used to sweating and pushing your body, and feeling strong and capable, a lot of the feedback I was getting was that yoga was really boring. So that’s when I decided I could show women what they can do and what is safe during pregnancy.

There’s a rumour that exercise and miscarriage are linked, which is completely unfounded. When I became pregnant in 2018, I realised you feel very nervous and anxious, you’re constantly told what you can and can’t do. There’s no negative when it comes to exercise during pregnancy, unless you have health conditions which would put you at risk anyway.

I started virtual classes as soon as Boris Johnson announced that gyms were closing last year. I thought I’d teach a live prenatal class and see what the feedback was like. It opened me up to a group of women who felt lonely and scared because they weren’t sure what harm would be done to their babies if they caught Covid. The prenatal classes went mad. That’s when we thought we’d use footage taken during my pregnancy and create the Bump Plan (a programme tailored for all trimesters).

Our goal is to show you can be pregnant and powerful. It is not that you’re delicate and fragile, you’re incredibly strong. With the Bump Plan, you have six workouts, one to do each day with a rest day. You can do them from your home at any point of the day. There is also a weekly members-only live class, which is really busy.

I spend my whole life talking about my pelvic floor, but at 25 weeks’ pregnant, at a meeting in a cafe, I sneezed and wet myself. I did not know whether to laugh or cry, it was such a shock as I’m supposed to have a really strong pelvic floor. In pilates we constantly engage the pelvic floor, but you can’t demonstrate it and end up exaggerating it instead. For years I would squeeze my bum and tense my tummy to show that I was lifting my pelvic floor – but actually your glutes should not be doing anything. When I was later checked out, it turned out my pelvic floor was very weak.

Around 62 per cent of pregnant women will struggle with stress incontinence, leaking when they laugh, cough or sneeze. But that’s only 62 per cent of women who admit it. It’s common, but it isn’t normal. We might ask clients “do you have any injuries?”, but won’t ask about the pelvic floor. Then we give a woman a high-impact exercise and wonder why she’s going slowly and then ask why. Usually the response is, “Well, I’ve had two children, I’m never going to jump on a trampoline.” It’s good to admit that, but it’s not the case that just because you have had children your pelvic floor has gone to pot.

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