Exercise and Pregnancy

Women can often find it a little bit confusing when it comes to exercise in pregnancy. However, for uncomplicated pregnancies, exercise is safe and in fact highly encouraged as there are benefits for both mum and bub!

How much exercise should you be doing?

The guidelines recommend 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week. This can be made up of whatever exercise you like and split up into as many sessions as you want to. If you usually don’t exercise, then it is safe to start some light exercise after consulting with your midwife.

What sort of exercise should you be doing? 

Pregnancy is not the time to take up a crazy new sport but for most women continuing with the exercise you usually do or enjoy is fine, you may just need to modify it as you go along.

The key areas of exercise are as follows and ideally you would fit in a little from each area each week:

Strength Exercise: Being strong for birth will not only help birth itself but improve your recovery afterwards. Home body weight exercises, Pilates or gym classes are good strength workouts.

Cardio Exercise: Something that gets your heart rate up a little is good such as walking, swimming or cycling. The intensity should be to the point where you can just about hold a conversation. Running is safe if you were running before you were pregnant and feels ok.

Pelvic Floor Exercises: Doing these is safe and really important to maintain strength and improve recovery post birth. Always remember to relax your pelvic floor following a squeeze.

Mobility: Doing some light stretching can ease the aches and pains of late pregnancy. Remember not to over stretch as our ligaments soften with the hormonal changes in pregnancy.

What exercises to avoid?

It is not recommended to play any contact sports or do anything with a risk of falling/impact onto your growing stomach such as skiing. Also it is not recommended to lie on your back to exercise after the first trimester but side lying and all fours is fine.

What if exercise doesn’t feel good?

Often women feel too unwell or fatigued to exercise especially in that first trimester. Don’t panic and just listen to your body and do a bit when you feel you can. Also it can be helpful to know that it may change on a weekly basis and something may not feel so good one week but then better the next depending on hormones, baby growth spurt etc.

Always Consult a Health Professional

There are a few incidences where reducing your activity is needed so please always consult with your midwife or health care professional. A Pelvic Health Physio can also provide a wealth of information and support for exercising mums to be!

The key message is be as active as you can, listening to your body as you go!

Note: This is general advice and should never replace speaking with your healthcare provider.

Article provided by pre & postnatal physiotherapy & exercise specialist - Emily Burmester. Project Physio


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