Pregnancy and postnatal fitness webchat Mon 19 Oct 12-1pm

Join us between 12-1pm on Monday 19 October for a live webchat about safe pregnancy and postnatal exercise. We've got No More Excuses fitness expert Wendy Powell here to answer your questions about the best way to keep fit, both before and after birth.
Feel free to post your questions in advance if you can't be with us while the chat is live.
[Modified by: webeditor on 14 October 2009 11:54:59 ]

[Modified by: webeditor on 19 October 2009 10:06:31 ]


  • Hello Everyone! I just wanted to let you know I'm here & ready to answer your questions! Thank-you for having me & I hope I can help!
  • Hi Wendy,
    I had a Ceasearean with both my babies (most recent one 4 months ago). Will my tummy ever be the same again? What's the best way to get it back in shape? Am thinking about Pilates - would you recommend it?
  • Hi OMGlammamum,

    I know it may not look like it now, but yes, your tummy can come back! Pilates is a good idea but ONLY if you are being taught by a preg/postnatal specialist. There are some pilates moves that will make a post c-section and/or split tummy muscles worse! examples are '100's' or any movement that is a crunch or jack-knife movement.
    Avoid crunches or sit ups at all costs! The first thing you must do is locate your transverse abdominal muscles & start activating them. 'Belly breathing' is where to start - I give full instructions on this on a recent blog post - I'll put all the links up at the end.
    Then you need careful pelvic floor & transverse abdominal exercise to 'knit' you back together again!
    Hope that helps! And don't despair - contrary to popular belief - you don't have to just put up with a post baby tummy - you can do something about it!

    [Modified by: Wendy Powell on October 19, 2009 12:03 PM]

  • Hi again OMGlamamum - there's no one else there at the moment so I wanted to give you a bit more on post c-section recovery... take care when getting in & out of bed, & try to avoid getting up from lying down by coming straight up from the hips - again, that jack-knife movment. This will make it worse. You need to learn to activate your transverse & get into the habit of engaing this muscle every time you get up, turn around, cough, sneeze... this muscle is your friend! Check out the belly breathing technique on the blog & make it second nature!

    Pelvic floor muscles don't get away with it because you had a c-section I'm afraid - they have still been stretched by the weight & gravity of your baby. They are integral to transverse activation so easy to remember to do them!

    [Modified by: Wendy Powell on October 19, 2009 12:02 PM]

  • Hi Wendy,
    I'm a mum of 2. Pelvic floor exercises - will I have to do them for the rest of my life? Or does it go back to normal after a while then you can relax about them?
  • Hi Wendy

    I am 12 weeks pregnant and have been very lazy recently due to sickness, tiredness etc. I have started to feel better and want to keep active.

    Is it safe to do walking, swimming & gentle cycling. (i'm most worried in particular about the cycling, but I go on very flat paved paths and not fast at all). I want to aim for 3 x 30 minute sessions of exercise a week. Is this too much/not enough?

    Also, is it safe to do arm toning exercises while pregnant, ie push ups and using dumbbells? I think my dumbbells are only 2-4 lbs.

    Thanks very much for your help.
  • Hi franticmum - yes, the pelvic floor... something we all took for granted before we had children! You will benefit from doing them regularly forever - as we get older these muscles become weaker if not exercised (just like any other). So if you want great bladder control (& stronger orgasms!image) for a good few years yet, then keep going!

    It only takes a few minutes to do 3-4 sets of 10 quick squeezes & some longer (5-10 second holds) - & you can be cooking, having coffee, driving or waiting for a bus whilst you do them!

    Also, the PF muscles should be activated with your transverse muscles (these are the internal muscles of your abdomen, which run liike a corset around your middle) during lifting, exercising & getting up from a lying down position. Try to make PF contraction second nature, then you don't have to think of the exercises as something extra you have to remember!

    Points to remember when doing PF exercises:
    Don't hold your breath! Breathe OUT as you squeeze up
    Don't squeeze the muscles of your bum, or inner thighs
    Don't push down or out when you release, just let go
  • Hi Wendy,

    I am quite overweight and as a diabetic I do'nt want to gain too much weight in this pregnancy.

    I am now past 12 weeks, do you think it would be safe for me to use the gym a few times a week, and what exercises would you recommend for best weight control whilst pregnant?

    I was a gym user prior to falling pregnant but have not done any exercise for three months due to being terrified of a miscarriage!

    Thank you.
  • Hello Posy & congratulations on your pregnancy! Firstly, feeling sick & tired for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy does NOT constitute being lazy!! This is the hardest part of pregnancy as all the really amazing hard work is being done creating your baby, which is why you feel dreadful...

    Well done for getting back into exercise though - you'll be glad you did. All the aerobic activities you mentioned are absolutely fine to do. The only consideration with cycling is, as you are cleary aware, the danger of falling off, & at this stage your centre of gravity is still quite 'normal' so there is no reason why this should happen if you're careful.

    Working with free weights is great too - as are body weight resistance exercises such as push up, squats & lunges. You should also include some core exercises (NOT crunches / sit ups) like the plank, & some cat stretch abdominal hollowing to start activating your transverse & pelvic floor muscles.

    Stop if you feel dizzy, don't work to exhaustion & remember you are exercising to maintain, not increase, fitness & strength. There are full safety guidelines on my website & blog (I'll post all the links at the end).

    Good luck & have a very happy, fit pregnancy!
  • Thanks Wendy, that has motivated me now. I hadn't even though of doing squats and lunges but will be trying those out now.
  • Hi There,
    I think I have BMI of about 27/28 which I think is just a bit over the healthy weight and so do feel I could lose a few pounds. I have been diagnosed with POS but I think it's only mild as I have regular periods. My partner and I are thinking about trying for a baby in the next year. At the moment I do very little exercise. Can you advise me of where I should start really to get rid of the pounds and what I should aim to get down to in order to be the right -healthy' weight to give me the best chance to conceive and be fit enough for a -healthy' pregnancy?


  • Hi Mrs Setters - congratulations to you as well! & to answer your question about diabetes & weight gain during pregnancy...

    Eat as many fresh vegetables (go organic where possible) as you can, & make sure you're getting enough fibre from wholegrains - don't forget bulgur, buckwheat, oats, quinoa, brown rice, rye... so it's not all about wheat! Remember that now more than ever you want to be making healthy choices for your developing baby, for you, & to avoid excess weight gain. Remember your omega fats (more essential than ever now you're pregnant) & take a good prenatal supplement (I can give recommendations later if you want to contact me)

    Empty calories or nutrient-devoid processed food are not required as you 'eat for two'! And those same foods which cause excess weight gain when you're not pregnant, will still be hanging around afterwards!

    Re: exercise - I completely understand the fear of doing anything to endanger your pregnancy, but there is really NO evidence at all that sensible, consistent exercsie throughout pregnancy will harm your baby at all. In fact it will do you both good!

    Start with walking, keep it brisk & think about your posture, & pulling 'belly button to spine' (don't hold your breath) as you walk or jog/run (if you were doing this pre-pregnancy). You could do this outside or on a treadmill at the gym. All the cardio machines at the gym are fine to use during pregnancy - just remember not to push yourself too hard. Forget heart rate monitors - they are simply not accurate as a measure of exertion at this stage. Go with the 'talk test' - you should be able to hold a conversation as you exercise. If you are gasping for breath, slow down, if you can sing... you could work a little harder!

    Make sure you do some body weight resistance exercise & core work as well as cardio

    Follow the safety guidelines on my website (link later) & stop immediately if you feel dizzy, out of breath or unwell.

    Keep healthy snacks & a drink to hand whilst you work out, & for afterwards - nibble on nuts, oatcakes, an apple... something that will keep nausea at bay, keep your blood sugar levels stable & your energy up

    [Modified by: Wendy Powell on October 19, 2009 12:56 PM]

    [Modified by: Wendy Powell on October 19, 2009 12:58 PM]

  • Dear Homey_UK

    A BMI of 27/28 is at the upper end of average / very bottom of the scale of 'obese' so good for you for wanting to tackle that. However this level of body fat is unlikely to be actually preventing you from conceiving. The best thing you can do at this point is to make the commitment from NOW, that you are going to get your body into top shape for conception & carrying a baby.

    You should address your nutrition - there are lots of ideas on my blog & website (loads of suggestions & too many to list here!) but basically your goal should be to keep your diet as CLEAN & UN-PROCESSED as possible. Check your labels - if you can't pronounce the ingredients - you don't want to eat them! Go organic where possible (I strongly believe that reducing the amount of pesticides, chemicals & hormones we consume through our food has a definite postitive effect on our health), buy your meat at least free range (if not organic) & cut out as much of the processed & sugary foods in your diet as possible.

    Increase your intake of fibre & make sure you're getting your omega fats - these fats are called ESSENTIAL for good reason! Grind up flax, pumpkin & sesame seeds in a coffee grinder & sprinkle on your cereal or in a smoothie, snack on nuts (not salted or roasted) & seeds and/or take a good quality omega supplement.

    Exercise-wise - start now! Walking (following the guidelines in my last post about posture), & increase your walks - go faster, stride up some hills, then add in a walk/jog. Walk for a 3 minutes, then jog for one, & walk again - keep increasing the distance OR the speed OR the duration of the runs (don't try & increase everything at once!). You'll quickly see an improvement which will motivate you to keep going!

    Try some simple body weight (ie you don't need equipment) exercises like lunges, squats, press-ups (don't be daunted, just start from all-fours, keep your shoulders over your hands & lower your chin to the floor - push back up & repeat 10 times).

    The important thing is not to feel daunted by the process. All of the above will help ease symptoms of PCOS too. I was also diagnosed with PCOS & have 2 beautiful children - it just means its harder to predict ovulation, not necessarily that you're not ovulating at all!

    Good luck &, Oh, don't forget to have sex!;\)

    [Modified by: Wendy Powell on October 19, 2009 12:52 PM]

    [Modified by: Wendy Powell on October 19, 2009 01:12 PM]

  • To Posy again, yes - squats & lunges are the BEST lower body/core exercises -They're multi-taskers: meaning they work big muscle groups, so are more efficient AND effective.

    I realised I didn't respond to your question about frequency of exercise - your goal of 3x30 minutes a week is perfect - if you're able, you could do this on 4 or 5 days a week, but the most important thing is to listen to your body & not over do it.
  • Thanks for all your questions ladies - I hope it was helpful!

    You can find loads of information, articles & free reports to download on my website & blog:

    Contact me through the website if you need anything else!

    Wendy x
  • Thanks so much to Wendy Powell for such informative answers and to our users for yet another great webchat.

    For more information about Wendy Powell, and for great nutrition tips and exercise advice log onto her company website - No More Excuses at
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