Exercise and Pregnancy

Whilst growing a baby is a huge undertaking for your body it doesn’t mean you need to be inactive during your pregnancy. The type of exercise suitable in pregnancy, depends on what your body is used to and you may need to modify your exercise a little, and even take up something brand new. 

There are many options and exercise remains just as important if not more important during pregnancy for the following reasons:

● Reduces back and pelvic pain and helps you maintain a good posture.
● Sets you up well for labour and helps you recover more rapidly after birth.
● Aids recovery following caesarean section.
● Helps you stay within a healthy gestational weight range.
● An opportunity to meet other pregnant mums to create a social support network.

Physical activity is important to help get through those daily calories. Remember that keeping within your optimal weight range during pregnancy:

● Reduces the risk of gestational diabetes and high blood pressure which can both adversely affect you and your baby. Both conditions can increase the risk of complications during late pregnancy, birth and the early postnatal period.
● Help with common pregnancy discomforts such as constipation. Keeping your legs active will also keeping your bowels active.
● Exercise is a wonderful mood lifter. We know 1:10 pregnant women will experience anxiety or depression in their pregnancy. Getting out in the fresh air, getting some exposure to sunlight (Vitamin D) and getting those feel good hormones called endorphins that exercise produces will help keep your mood positive and your stress levels low.
● Reduces insomnia. Mums that report 20-30min activity every day report they sleep better and feel more rested when they wake up to start their day.

What type of exercise is suitable in pregnancy, depends on what your body is conditioned to. We do not ask you to give up, just ensure you modify your chosen exercise to avoid abdominal core exercises and do not overheat. Low impact exercise is preferred as you are less likely to injure yourself. During pregnancy a hormone called ‘relaxin’, responsible for softening ligaments throughout the entire body (but specifically around your pelvis and hips) enables baby to move through the birth canal. Your pelvic floor is like a sling, as baby grows more weight is being applied on these muscles and ligament structures. We suggest avoiding exercises that require you to make postural changes too quickly (running, netball, aerobics), and be cautious of going into a deep stretch because you can cause strain more easily. Many gyms, parks and PT’s offer specifically designed pregnancy classes to accommodate your changing anatomy.

Here are some examples of exercise options that are beautifully suited to pregnancy:
● Swimming
● Pilates
● Yoga
● Cycling (up to a point of comfort)
● Walking
● Aqua aerobics

Occasionally you might have a pregnancy or medical condition that makes exercise difficult or not recommended. Please make sure you are talking to your health care provider to ensure you find the right activity for you. Finding an exercise that you enjoy and making time for 30 mins of moderate exercise every day during your pregnancy is a wonderful way for both you and your baby to stay fit and healthy for not only the nine months of your pregnancy but for the rest of your lives.