"It's good for you and baby" – fitness guru and mum-of-two Orla Hopkins on exercising when pregnant
Being a busy mum-of-two, running her own business and teaching choreography and dance too, it is safe to say that fitness guru Orla Hopkins has a lot of balls in the air at any given time.
This weekend, Hopkins is taking part in a panel discussion to raise money for The Rotunda Hospital, and is so delighted to be able to chat to mums and mums-to-be about the importance of exercise in pregnancy and how to get back into your exercise routine again after the baby comes along, a topic the fitness-loving mum feels very passionate about.
"I cannot stress enough how important it is to keep active and fit during pregnancy, and the huge difference it will make to not only your overall feeling of wellness and strength, but also – you are preparing your body for what's to come next – labour and recovery," Hopkins explains.
"Giving birth is a big job, and the stronger and healthier you are going into it, well, then chances are, the easier your delivery and also recovery will be."
" I got some funny looks, but was quick to explains myself"
Hopkins, who is mum to 9-year-old Noa and 2-year-old Hunter, explains that she kept working out for her whole second pregnancy, but that she did so also listening to her own body and making some adjustments to her normal workout routine.
"It was very important to me to keep training when pregnan, not only for myself and that feel good factor, but also to keep myself and the baby healthy. It helps with the strain of the bump by keeping up the strength in my lower back and legs. And it also helps prepare the body for birth and for the post natal recovery."
However, the fitness loving mum explains that she did get some looks and whispers on a few occasions when in the gym working out, visibly pregnant.
"I think people just assumed it was for my own vanity – as in 'look at her, more concerned about her weight and figure than her baby's safety and comfort,'" says Hopkins.
"But actually, instead of ignoring it, I would stop what I was doing and explain why I was working out, and how benefitial it actually is – both to me, but also, maybe even more importantly, to the baby. It gets your blood flowing, which also boosts blood flow to the placenta, and many studies have shown that exercising in pregnancy has multiple benefits for your baby – even long after they are born."
For most part, Hopkins explains, people were genuinely interested to hear what she had to say, and were sometimes surprised to hear her explains how you really can – and should – keep working out for the duration of your pregnancy, as long as your healthcare professional says you are good to go.
"When I was pregnant, I got full clearance from my consultant to keep doing what I was doing in moderation. He trusted me to listen to my body and take each session with caution and consideration, which I did."
As for how she worked out during her pregnancy, Hopkins explains that she did a mix of things, including circuit style sessions using a fitball, resistance bands or kettle bells.
"But it's important to listen to your body. Always listen to your body, especially when pregnant. What this meant to me was that some days my workouts were only ten minutes and other days 45 minutes, all depending on how I felt that day."
Don't be afraid to ask for help
Hopkins believe so many mums-to-be feel a little nervous about working out when pregnant, especially if they haven't been very active prior to becoming pregnant.
"It's important to remember that it is never too late when it comes to exercise – and that doing something is far, far better than doing nothing."
First, reminds Hopkins, get your all clear from your consultant, GP or midwife – consult one of your healthcare professionals, and they will be able to guide you when it comes to choosing exercises and moves that will be safe for your and your baby.
"Pregnancy yoga is a great thing to try when you are pregnant. There are tons of classes around, and you will no doubt find one near where you live. Yoga is not only great for keeping flexible and strengthening your core muscles, but it is also an amazing way to learn how to use your breath properly and how to manage your stress or anxieties in a very good way."
And don't be shy about asking for help, Hopkins reminds us.
"If you are feeling a little lost as to what you can and can’t do don’t be afraid to ask for help. Book a PT session or look into pregnancy keep fit classes or, like I said, yoga. There are plenty of specialists out there who are extremely passionate about what they do and helping others so be sure to get a program that fits your needs and pregnancy."
Happy mum equals happy family
Exercise if, of course, incredibly benefitial to your physical health, both short- and long term. And plenty of studies have shown how good it is for not only you, but your baby too when you keep active during pregnancy.
But, says Hopkins, maybe even more important than the great physical side-effects of working out is the effect it has on your mental health and mental wellbeing.
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Gooood Morning ... Well is it ? I literally didn’t sleep a wink last night ??♀️? and The crazy thing is it had NOTHING to do with Hunter ... just WAY too much overthinking ??? So then in return I missed my 6am gym session ... but I’m not going to let that ruin my day ... I’ll head to work as planned ... head home early and fit in a home/ garden workout as there will be no leaving the house once I’m home ....we are in FULL TOILET TRAINING mode with the Hunter ?? #nogymnoproblem so excited to share our upcoming @thefitness_collective programmes with you guys .... there is something for everyone ?? Go Follow @thefitness_collective ... ARE YOU IN ??? #motivate #educate #inspire #fitmum #healthylife #balance
"Once your baby in born, and you get the all-clear from your doctor or midwife to slowly, but surely ease yourself back into doing some kind of exercise – do make sure you do it," Hopkins explains.
"Us mums are so great at putting everyone elses needs ahead of ourselves, but I always say investing in yourself a little, taking time to work out – in whatever way that makes you feel good, it isn't just an investment in yourself, but in your entire family. Because that is reality. If mum is happy and healthy and feeling good, well, then that spilleth over and benefits the entire family too."
The Dublin-based mum explains that she got back to doing some sort of exercises very soon after having delivered her second son.
"The hospital physio taught me these great kegel exercsies to do, and I started doing these really soon. They were super-simple and very basic, and are designed to help you heal and recover all those streched, strained muscles. I think if you do one thing before leaving the hospital with your newborn baby, do ask a midwife or physio to tell you or show you how to do these properly and them start doing them sooner rather than later."
Apart from pelvic exercises, Hopkins explains that after six weeks and an OK from her doctor, she started walking and built up slowly to a power walk before taking herself back into the gym again.
"And yes, it was good for my physical recovery, but the most important thing about making time for some exercises again, time just for me, was how it affected my mood and my feelings and my overall feelings of coping and having enough energy," she explains.
"And this, in turn, had an impact on everyone in the house. It really as the case of happy mummy, happy family."
Orla Hopkins' top tips for exercising when pregnant
1. Consult your healthcare provider first
If you want to exercise or keep fit during your pregnancy, you should always speak to your doctor. Every pregnant woman has a different experience and different capabilities as their body undergoes such a huge change.
2. Listen to your body
This is not the time to aim to break personal bests and records. Stay in the safety zone, listen to your body, and always stop when you get too tired, sore or when you feel like you should be taking it easier.
3. Don't forget about your pelvic floor
The pelvic floor is a layer of muscle that supports the uterus and helps, among other things, maintain bladder and bowel control. During pregnancy, there is obviously a lot of pressure on the pelvic floor, more and more as your baby grows bigger, so doing exercises that are specific to that area will help strengthen it. And in turn, having a strong pelvic floor may even help bladder and bowel problems that can occur later, even years after giving birth.
4. Drink enough water
This is important at the best of times, and especially when pregnant.
This is important when keeping fit, regardless of whether you’re pregnant or not but is even more crucial when you’re growing a human. Even when you don’t necessarily feel thirsty, keep guzzling water and pay close attention to your body temperature too.
Join Mairead Ronan, Rosie Connolly and Orla Hopkins for our 2019 Charity Lunch to raise money for The Rotunda Hospital
Join Mairead Ronan, Rosie Connolly & Orla Hopkins for our 2019 Charity Lunch & panel discussion to raise money for The Rotunda Hospital. On Sunday 15th of September The Rotunda Hospital and charity partners The Rotunda Foundation invite you to join us in the elegant surrounds of The Pillar Room for our 2019 Charity Lunch - a fundraising event in aid of The Rotunda Hospital.
Professor Fergal Malone, Master of the Rotunda Hospital will also deliver an opening address at the reception and guests will be treated to a three-course meal courtesy of The Rotunda Hospital's acclaimed Catering Team.
To attend the event, tickets can be bought here and are €45-€55, with all proceeds going to The Rotunda Foundation, the official fundraising arm of the Rotunda Hospital. The Rotunda Foundation relies upon the kindness and generosity of its supporters and friends to help fund essential Rotunda Research, provide additional life-saving equipment for the hospital's specialist units and aid services that support our most vulnerable patients.