Pregnancy is a surprising time filled with positive body changes and outlook, but it can also come with discomfort and pain. If you're a gym bunny and you find that it's difficult to understand what you can and can't do when you're pregnant, it's important to get to grips with the limits to which you can push your body as it's growing. 

Whether you're an avid trainer or are a complete beginner, exercise for pregnant women can really help you stay healthy and strong during the nine months whilst preparing you for the birth of your baby. Here are 5 things you may not know about prenatal exercise:

1. You SHOULD Do It

It’s not just something to keep you looking great while you're pregnant, but it's essential for maintaining a strong body to help keep those back aches and pains at bay while your bump is growing. Remember, it doesn’t have to be anything hard core or are not comfortable with, but keeping active and strong is a must for both you and your baby!

2. You CAN Lift Weights

Yes, lifting a weight that's too heavy for you is not sensible and certainly not recommended, but if you pick dumbbells or medicine balls that you're actually able to lift and move around, then there is nothing to say that you shouldn’t. Always focus on your posture and form when lifting weights to avoid hurting your back. Ask someone to help you, or even just watch you to make sure you are doing the movement correctly.

3. Your Heart Rate Is YOUR Heart Rate

Don’t panic too much about your heart rate going up to a specific number. You will read that anything over 140bpm is dangerous, but actually you have to remember that everyone is different, and what is normal for you may not be normal for the next person. Your best bet is to listen to your own body. If you feel too puffed or out of breath, then take a rest to let your heart rate go down a bit before starting again. Always try and increase your heart rate slowly by warming up before you start your main workout.

4. Sweat is OK

Don’t be afraid to break a sweat. As with all exercise, people react differently and some sweat more than others. It certainly is not an indicator that something is wrong. Sweat is your body’s way of cooling down so perhaps if you are sweating a lot more than you usually do it could be a sign to slow things down but you are the best judge of this as no one knows you better than you

5. Watch Out For Your JOINTS

As soon as you become pregnant, a hormone called relaxin is released throughout your body. The purpose of this hormone is to soften the ligaments that will help with birth, but unfortunately it also softens ligaments in other areas too. This means that you just have to pay special attention to joints like knees, hips and ankles as they can become a little unstable. Keep them stable by focusing on strengthening the surrounding muscles and watching your posture when performing your exercises.

Remember, you're building a stronger body for yourself and your baby – so take care and go for it! As always, just ask for help or advice if you are unsure of the lengths you are going when in the gym, and if you are worried, consult your physician before exercising.

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