All women who are pregnant without complications should continue exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy. Carrying a baby is hard work as is labour, so remaining in good physical shape is essential. A reasonable goal should be to maintain a good fitness level throughout pregnancy without trying to reach peak fitness. It is important to stay well hydrated, wear comfortable clothing and foot wear and avoid excessive over heating.
Maintaining a healthy weight will help you return to your pre-baby weight more quickly and reduce your risk of developing diabetes of pregnancy (more common in overweight mothers).
Risks of Exercise
There are no known adverse risks to a pregnant woman who meets the recommended guidelines of at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week.
However as pregnancy progresses the body changes significantly and joints become looser. This is an important change as it allows the pelvic bones to slightly separate to allow the birth of a baby vaginally. This joint laxity can lead to pelvic and back pains. High impact running can increase the risk of pelvic instability. A pregnant woman’s centre of gravity changes as she the pregnancy progresses, this can affect balance.
Common sense must prevail, taking up a new adventure sport is not a sensible idea in pregnancy due to altered balance. You should avoid sports that put you at risk of a blow to the abdomen eg falling whilst snow boarding, martial arts.
- 75-150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week.
- Avoid overheating; don’t exercise if you are ill or feverish, take care in hot and humid weather
- Stay well hydrated
- Avoid contact sports or activities with a risk of falling
- Avoid scuba diving whilst pregnant
Aerobic exercise suggestions whilst pregnant
- Cycling (stationary bike safer)
- Low impact aerobic exercise class
- Water aerobics
- Yoga or pilates
- Pregnancy exercise classes
When should a pregnant woman not exercise?
Stop exercising if you experience:
- Abdominal pain
- Any fluid loss from the vagina
- Calf pain or swelling
- Chest pain
- Decreased baby movements
- Dizziness, light headedness, muscle weakness, blurred vision
- Shortness of breath before starting exercise
- Pelvic pain
- Excessive fatigue
- Painful uterine contractions
- Vaginal bleeding
Listen to your body!
Pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy
- Sit and lean slightly forward with a straight back
- Squeeze and lift the muscles as if you are trying to stop urinating
- Hold the squeeze for up to 5 seconds, relax for up to 10 seconds
- Repeat up to 10 times, 3 to 4 times a day
- Keep breathing through the exercise