All women who are pregnant without complications are encouraged to participate in aerobic and strength-conditioning exercises as part of a healthy lifestyle during their pregnancy.
There are many benefits from exercising regularly during pregnancy. These include physical benefits and the prevention of excessive weight gain, as well as benefits for psychological wellbeing.
Before you start any exercise program you must speak to your obstetrician to make sure that you do not have any health issues that may stop you from participating in regular exercise during your pregnancy.
For those women that may be worried there is no actual evidence to suggest that regular exercise during a healthy pregnancy is harmful to the woman or her baby, therefore you are encouraged throughout your pregnancy to participate in regular aerobic and strengthening exercises.
Suggested exercise activities during your pregnancy
It is recommended that you are active most days if not every day. However, if you are currently inactive or overweight, you should start with 3-4 days per week on non-consecutive days.
There are two types of exercises that you are encouraged to do whilst pregnant, aerobic and strengthening exercises.
Aerobic exercises involve continuous activities that use large muscle groups and raise the heart and breathing rates.
Some examples of aerobic exercises include:
· Brisk walking
· Stationary cycling
· Swimming and other water based activities like aquarobics (avoid heated spas & hydro pools)
Strengthening exercises suggest being performed 2 times per week, on non-consecutive days, this covers the main muscle groups of the body.
You can use light weights, body weight or elasticised resistance- bands.
Some examples of Strengthening exercises include:
· Pelvic floor exercises
· Yoga, stretching & other floor exercises
· Pregnancy exercise classes
Important tip: pelvic floor exercises are vital to begin conditioning the pelvic floor muscles from the start of your pregnancy as these muscles are weakened during your pregnancy and during vaginal birth.
It is important to continue with these throughout your pregnancy and resume as soon as you are comfortable after birth (consult with your obstetrician).
Exercises to Avoid
A list of exercises you should avoid include:
· Abdominal trauma or pressure activities such as weightlifting or heavy lifting
· Contact or collision sports such as martial arts, soccer, basketball (other similar sports)
· Hard projectile object such as hockey & cricket
· Falling such as skiing & horse riding
· Extreme balance such as gymnastics
· Major changes to pressure such as scuba diving
· High-altitude training over 2000m
· After your first trimester you should not perform any exercises lying flat on your back
· It is also recommended to avoid walking lunges & wide squats as they can cause injury to the pelvic connective tissue.
If you are not sure whether a certain activity is safe during your pregnancy, you must check with
your obstetrician at your antenatal appointments.
Warning signs when exercising during pregnancy
If you experience any of the following during or after physical activity, stop what you are doing and contact or obstetrician or GP, or in an emergency go straight to your booked hospital.
· Dizziness or feeling faint
· Heart palpitations
· Chest pain
· Swelling of the face, hands or feet
· Calf pain or swelling
· Vaginal bleeding
· Deep back, pubic or pelvic pain
· Cramping in the lower abdomen
· Walking difficulties
· An unusual change in your baby’s movements
· Amniotic fluid leakage
· Unusual shortness of breath
· Excessive fatigue
· Excessive muscle weakness.
For any further questions please speak to your obstetrician at your antenatal appointments.