You’re pregnant- congratulations!
I am sure you have a long list of things to do before baby arrives, cancelling your gym membership should not be one of them.
Exercising during pregnancy is perfectly safe and strongly recommended as it improves both yours and your baby’s health *unless, of course, you have been advised not to exercise by a health care professional.
Your body goes through many physical and hormonal changes during pregnancy and these changes can lead to a number of health problems in pregnancy such as preeclampsia and gestational diabetes.
At least 30 mins of exercise a day can help relieve pregnancy niggles and has many incredible pregnancy benefits, including:
- Shorter labour
- Fewer complications
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduces the risk of diabetes
- Helps you to adapt to your changing body shape
- Maintains a healthy weight during and after pregnancy
- Reduces the likelihood of varicose veins,
- Reduces swollen ankles, feet and hands
- Reduces back pain
- Improves fitness levels
- Improves mood and reduces depression and anxiety
- Improves sleep
- Reduces the risk of preeclampsia
- Reduces the chance of a caesarean birth
- Baby may enjoy a fitter heart, lower BMI and boosts brain health
Exercise in pregnancy can be as simple as housework, gardening or going for a brisk walk. Your exercise goal in pregnancy is an activity that makes you feel warm and a little out of breath. You should be able to talk whilst exercising without becoming breathless and feel energised after exercising, not drained.
If you are new to exercise, then start slowly and build up gradually. If you are an experienced exerciser, that’s great but do not go overboard – now is not the time to beat your PBs! If you are unsure what exercise to do speak to your midwife, physiotherapist or GP.
Here are a few examples of exercises safe in pregnancy:
- Aerobic classes – Zumba for example is low impact and safe
- Running/jogging – if you’ve not done this prior to pregnancy now is not a good time to start
- Ellipticals, stair climbers, treadmills & rowing machines
- Walking outside connects you to nature, helping you to relax
- Yoga and/or Pilates strengthen key muscles around pelvis and spine
- Aqua classes improves cardiovascular fitness and muscle tone. Water helps you relax whilst supporting your bump, reducing the risk of injury
- Swimming is one of the safest exercises during pregnancy, eases swelling, relieves sciatic pain, encourages circulation just be careful of slippery pool decks
- Weight lifting – if you did not do this before do not start during pregnancy. Helps you bear the additional weight throughout pregnancy. Prepares your body for the physical demand of labour.
Exercises to Avoid:
- High impact sports where your bump could be hit by someone or something. For example, kickboxing, judo, squash, football, rugby and hockey.
- Scuba Diving can cause birth defects or foetal compression disease.
- Strenuous exercise in hot weather.
- Exercise above 2500m above sea level as this can result in altitude sickness.
- exercises than involve lying on your front after 12 weeks pregnant.
- exercises that involve lying on your back after 16 weeks. The weight of your expanding uterus could compress blood vessels restricting circulation.
- exercises that involve holding your breath/forceful breaths.
- stretches that put you under strain.
- back bends/strong twists.
If you experience any of the following stop exercising and contact your midwife or GP ASAP:
- Feeling dizzy or faint
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain
- Pain and swelling in your calf
- Bleeding or fluid from your vagina
- Painful contractions
- Baby not moving as much as usual
Important points to remember:
- Look in your local area for maternity exercise classes. These pregnancy specific classes are tailor made for mums to be and can be a fun and sociable way to meet other mums.
- Tell your personal trainer or fitness instructor that you are pregnant as soon as possible. You can work together to adapt exercises, keeping you are your baby safe.
- Warm up and cool down- this ensures your heart and circulation aren’t suddenly taxed and help reduced the possibility of injury.
- Listen to your body – never exercise to the point of exhaustion when pregnant. If you feel unwell stop.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Hydration is incredibly important.
- Pack a snack – exercise can lead to low blood sugar so make sure you have a healthy snack close.
- Stay motivated by choosing a form of exercise that you enjoy and switch it up to stay interested.
- Stay cool – avoid the sauna, steam room and hot tubs. Stay in an air conditioned environment for prolonged workout sessions.
- Wear loose, breathable, stretchy clothes and a sports bra that supports you.
- During pregnancy your body produces a hormone called Relaxin to prepare it for childbirth. It relaxes the ligaments and joints become less stable. This can make your more susceptible injury than before.
- As baby and your bump gets bigger your centre of gravity changes and can make you off balance so take extra care when exercising.
We hope this blog helps to reassure you about exercise during pregnancy and highlights the many benefits of doing so.
We recommended the following websites for more information and advice:
Our favourite pregnant fitness influencers to inspire and encourage you: