Fitness During Pregnancy

Fitness During Pregnancy

Interview with Reneilwe Kgengwe

Reneilwe Kgengwe is a good friend of HFPA and is obviously passionate about health and fitness! She is a qualified personal trainer who specialises in pre and post natal training. She also happens to be pregnant and so we decided to get her input on training during pregnancy. Find her on Instagram: @RK_Fitness_with_Reneilwe and Facebook: Reneilwefitness

1. Why did you choose to specialise in pre and post natal training?

I studied pre and post natal training mainly due to the difficulties I started experiencing during my pregnancy journey and thought to myself, educating myself about being a fit pregnant mom would be helpful to many moms out there. And my desire grew more and more from there onwards.

2. How far into the pregnancy did you continue to train normally for?

I trained normally in the first trimester, doing exercises such as jogging which I was doing before I fell pregnant, because when you are training before pregnancy you are able to keep the same intensity to at least the second trimester, about 16 to 20 weeks.

3. What was your diet like during your pregnancy?

My diet during pregnancy became really different. I realised that there was a lot of meat and dairy products that I was not able to stomach and I had a very sickly pregnancy were I was constantly very nauseous so it was very difficult to find something to eat and the only thing that could stay down was bread and rice (carbohydrates) so that was my main kind of meals but I knew that while eating the carbohydrates I’d still be training and didn’t feel too bad about it.

4. Did you find that the pregnancy affected your training?

Yes, I found that the pregnancy affected my training because I’m normally an early riser. On a daily basis I wake up as early in the morning as 3am and I usually start training at 5am and I realised that I was very tired in my first trimester. This made waking up early difficult for me. I had to make sure I trained not later than 14h00 on a daily basis. If I tried to train and later than that, I would be too tired.

5. How long did it take you to get back into training after giving birth?

I started training a bit harder in my third trimester as I grew stronger and stronger from first trimester to second and to the third. My energy levels were surprisingly greater in my third trimester than in my first. I really enjoyed training towards delivery time.

I started with physical training from walking to light weights when I was 8 weeks post-partum.

6. How long did it take you to get back to pre-baby weight?

My post natal journey was amazing. I started training at 8 weeks post-partum because, when you are surrounded by people who do not believe in prenatal and postnatal training, (like my mom and my mother-in-law) it makes it difficult. Because of that I ended up only being able to start training 8 weeks post-partum and I had to sneak around when training!

7. What are your thoughts and beliefs that pregnant women should not train?

I would not say women should not train when they are pregnant, however, I just believe in being active. Active doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to train vigorously, it just means being active, so going for a walk is good exercise and I’d say that everyone should be able to take a walk to the next block or to the car at the parking lot. I would really advise that all women should do at least go for a walk when they’re pregnant but at the same time I’m fully aware that it is not possible for all women, some can train fully when pregnant and some, due to medical reasons, just can’t, so I would just say if you are able to train when you pregnant then train and if you can’t due to medical reasons it’s understandable.

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8. What are the benefits of training as a pregnant woman?

I’ve found quite a few benefits of training during pregnancy and they are as follows:

  • Boost your energy
  • Help you sleep
  • Lower your risk of certain pregnancy-related complications
  • Reduce pregnancy discomfort
  • Prepares you for childbirth
  • Reduce stress and lift your spirits
  • Improve your self-image
  • Get your body back faster after childbirth

9. What is the best training routine for someone who wants to lose weight after baby is born?

The routine starts from the basics again, just going for a walk and building it up to lower intensity with a lot of intervals in between obviously until a person builds their fitness levels. That is very important to gradually build the intensity.

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10. What training regime should one focus on during their pregnancy?

It’s very important to stabilize the pelvic floor muscles and strengthen the core muscles because to be quite honest, when you are pregnant you become a bit wobbly, and the relaxin hormone kicks in even more so when you are unfit.

Your cardiovascular system plays a major role when pregnant and even more so when delivery time comes. It’s vital to be cardio-fit, so you need to include cardio workouts along with your strength training.

11. If you could provide a message for those preparing to have a baby in terms of fitness, what would you tell them?

My message to those who are preparing to have a baby is that it is of vital importance to stay active. That doesn’t mean killing yourself at the gym, but just remaining active. Stay physically mobile and hydrated at all times. You must enjoy this journey. When it starts, it may seem as if the pregnancy is taking very long but before you know it, it will be time to hold your bundle of joy in your arms and you want to be strong and fit so that you recover well from the delivery. So be healthy, active and stay hydrated. And capture all the wonderful memories as they only last for a few months.


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