First Pregnancy? Here are 5 Things You Need to Know!

Posted on May 6, 2024

Giving birth can be the biggest workout of your life, and you need to be ready, not just emotionally, but physically. 

Ahead of Mother’s Day on May 12, the moms within our Flex team have combined their professional and life experiences to list the five things they know now when it comes to pregnancy and exercise.

Furthermore, Flex Studio Singapore has partnered with M&G Aesthetics Body Sculpting Wellness, specialists in both pre and post-natal care,  to offer clients a trio of sessions at both Flex and M&G  at a special Mother’s Day price. 

It’s so important to act early and obtain professional guidance when it comes to exercise during pregnancy. As Flex founder Heather Thomas says, preparation for giving birth is key.

“Pregnancy is a time when a woman’s body naturally puts on weight and grows in ways that make a healthy birth possible. 

“An effective prenatal exercise programme supports this natural process of expansion and addresses the potential weaknesses that arise during and after pregnancy that can leave a woman vulnerable to injury.”

She stresses that regular, safe, and personalised pre-natal sessions will make such a huge difference to your pregnancy, birth, and beyond.

For example, Flex Singapore instructor Joann Ng says she was further convinced of Pilates’ transformative effect when she practiced throughout her three pregnancies, and was impressed with how it helped with fluid retention, backache prevention and core strengthening. Pilates also brought mindfulness and body awareness, which she could apply to daily life. 

“Support your body through the extra weight and strain that pregnancy puts on it with a programme designed to keep the body strong in preparation for childbirth,” says Flex Singapore founder Heather Thomas, the mother of three children (including twin boys).

Back pain is a common complaint among pregnant women as they get heavier and their bellies begin to protrude, putting extra strain on their backs. 

“Keeping your core muscles strong during pregnancy is essential,” says Nicole Serje, who runs Post Natal Recovery Workshops at Flex Studio One Island South in Wong Chuk Hang. “

This means learning how to engage the core, which includes the deep abdominals, pelvic floor, diaphragm and muscles of the back. 

This not only supports the extra weight and protects the back from injury and overstraining, but is also vital for post-natal recovery.” 

However, there are core workouts to avoid, such as those that involve flexion. Flexion is the rounding of the spine forward when standing or sitting, or rolling upward when lying down, like a sit-up. 

When doing crunches, abdominal muscles are responsible for this action. Pilates exercises like the Upper Abdominal Curl, Roll Up, and Roll Down compress the abdomen and shorten the abdominal wall. 

This is not what you want to do when your belly is growing during pregnancy – it’s counterintuitive to contract that which should be expanding! Try core stability exercises instead.

Furthermore, the connective tissue between the superficial abdominal muscle (rectus abdominis) can become stretched and weakened during pregnancy and this can be exacerbated by sit-ups due to the extra compression on the abdomen. (Also ReadBody After Baby: Common Postnatal Symptoms and What Cause

When a woman is pregnant, her body releases a chemical called relaxin that relaxes the muscles, tendons and ligaments to allow the baby to emerge through the pelvis. In the second and especially third trimesters, women need to be careful about doing stretches that go beyond their pre-pregnant range of motion. It’s possible to stretch too much and destabilize the joints, particularly in the pelvic area. 

Here are some general guidelines on working out when pregnant: 

  • Do stabilization exercises for the torso and hips
  • Work on building postural strength and endurance
  • Keep your legs, arms and back strong
  • Stretch gently to release your hips and back

Here’s what not to do when pregnant:

  • Don’t do sit-ups or anything that compresses the abdomen
  • Try not to lie on your belly especially during exercise
  • Try not to lie on your back in the third trimester, especially when working out – this compresses the abdominal aorta and blocks blood flow to you and your baby
  • Don’t stretch excessively during the second and third trimesters

Our prenatal Pilates exercises aim to help expectant mothers: strengthen the lower abdominal region to support the growing baby and thereby alleviate lower back pain; tone the pelvic floor muscles in preparation for delivery (and aid in recovery), improve posture (neck, shoulders & mid-back); and develop an awareness of deep breathing to assist movement, among many benefits.

Always talk to your medical health professional about any concerns you have before starting any new exercise programme.

Former Hong Kong-based Flex trainer ChelseaWong has a strong message for those embarking on their first pregnancy.

“I can’t say this enough… it’s SO important to exercise. But my motivation behind staying active has changed a lot during pregnancy. 

“It’s not about pushing myself to the max or achieving a certain look. Instead, it’s about how exercise makes me feel. Staying active has helped alleviate a lot of the negative pregnancy symptoms like nausea, muscle pain, bloating and fatigue.”

She also says she has modified a few of her regular exercises and remember to stay in touch with how her body is feeling.

To ensure your focus is on the correct way of moving, pre-natal Pilates at Flex Studio in Singapore is on all the key areas that need special care, such as upper body strength to prep for holding, feeding and carrying; back and core strength to counterbalance a growing belly; butt and hamstring workouts to support a much heavier body; and stronger calves and Achilles’ tendons to keep your balance intact.

Flex is long known for effective and controlled classes for all stages of the pregnancy journey, our Prenatal Pilates trio classes offer insightful advice, caring assistance, and informed support.

Jewellery designer and enthusiastic pre and post-natal Hong Kong-based client, Selena Qiu, told Flex Studio recently that she believes 

“Pilates is the most efficient exercise that I have ever tried, wherein multiple muscles are being activated at the same time. The most important part is that it is very safe to practice. It was also made for recovery!”

Our prenatal classes incorporates both mat work and reformer exercises to prepare your body for the birth of your baby. 

Modifications for each trimester are given, enabling participants to achieve optimum shape for the much-awaited arrival of their little ones. 

If you know a highly qualified Pilates instructor who has experience with training pregnant women, you will be safe doing Pilates as long as you train under his or her supervision. 

And while it’s generally okay to start Pilates when pregnant, especially if one has led a physically active lifestyle prior, one still needs to be careful to follow a certified Pilates teacher in order to gain the benefits of the system without fear of injury. 

In 2021, a group of medical researchers released the findings of a report in the National Library of Medicine, entitled: The effectiveness of a Pilates exercise program during pregnancy on childbirth outcomes: a randomised controlled clinical trial

The results showed that “Pilates exercise during pregnancy significantly reduces the labor pain intensity, length of the active phase and second stage of labor and increases maternal satisfaction of the labor process. 

“Based on … analysis, the mean whole length of labor was shorter in Pilates exercise group than in the control group”. 

Of course, there is no guarantee, but as Heather says, the benefits of staying active, strong, supporting your body and mind and meeting others in the same phase of life as you, far outweigh doing nothing at all.

“We have such a great group of pre-natal women coming along every week,” says Heather. “They’re sharing in a journey together, and taking positive steps to help their pregnancy and labor go smoothly. 

“We know how to take care of them in our sessions, too. And of course, when the bundle of joy is born, Flex is brilliant for getting back into exercise afterwards.”

Flex Studio Hong Kong

Flex Hong Kong Studios are currently offering a Pre/Post Natal Package

1 Private Assessment + 4 Pilates Private Sessions for HK$4490

Click your preferred HK studio to enquire now!

Central : 3F Man Cheung Building 15-17 Wyndham Street, Central 

T: 2813 2399  WA +852 5740 5103 

Enquire Here 

Island South : Shops 2205 & 2209 One Island South 2 Heung Yip Road, Wong Chuk Hang

T: 2813 2212  WA: +852 5740 9420

Enquire Here

Flex Studio Singapore 

Flex Studio & M&G Aesthetics is giving all expectant mums the pre-natal gift of unforgettable experiences! We have crafted the perfect way to prepare yourself for the arrival of your newborn. 

3 Pre Natal Pilates Group* Classes + 3 Pre Natal Massage Sessions for $460 (valued at $657)   

*Class of maximum 3 clients in each Pilates group class.

Orchard: 390 Orchard Road 05-02 Palais Renaissance S 238871

WA: +65 9111 6855

Enquire Here 

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