Exercise in Pregnancy

pregnant woman exercising with birth ball

Pregnancy can be quite demanding on the body. Not just with your bump growing, draining all your energy and smushing your organs out the way, but on your muscles, your bones, and your joints. Despite this, exercise during pregnancy is encouraged, but only do as much as you can manage.

The NHS says,

“The more fit and active you are during the pregnancy, generally, the easier your body will be able to change and adapt to its changing shape and help you prepare for labour too".

Whether you go for walks, a light jog, do some calming yoga, or love lifting weights and going to your favourite gym classes - whichever you feel comfortable doing, trying some form of exercise will help you avoid many problems later in the pregnancy and labour, but take it easy.

The NHS’s main advice:

"Don't exhaust yourself".

Pregnancy is tiring enough as it is, so only do what you can, when you can, and for as long as you can, nothing more.

Always get a sign off from your doctor or midwife before starting any new regime or continuing your existing heavy routine. If you become breathless, you’re going too hard. If you weren’t active pre-pregnancy, talk to your midwife about starting up an aerobic exercise and don’t go suddenly from 0-100. Take it slow and go from 15 minutes a couple of days a week, working your way up to 30 minutes a session, daily.

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Top Tips

  • Always warm-up before and cool down/stretch after each workout.
  • Any daily amount is better than nothing but aim for 30 minutes per day.
  • Drink plenty of water and fluids whilst exercising and avoid working out in hot weather.
  • If you’re in a class, make sure the teacher is aware of your pregnancy, how many weeks you are, and is properly trained in adapting exercises for prenatal fitness.
  • Swimming is a great exercise, as it will put less strain on your pelvis and spine with the water supporting your new bump weight. Some pools even provide fun aqua-natal classes!
  • Any exercises with a risk of falling should be avoided or proceeded with caution (horse riding, ice hockey, cycling, gymnastics, trampolining etc.).

Exercises to Avoid

  • After 16-weeks, avoid laying on your back for a prolonged period of time, as the bump will press on your main blood vessel which lays by your spine, and can leave you feeling faint.
  • Avoid any contact sports where there may be a risk of you being struck/hit/knocked, whether that’s with a flying tennis ball, or someone’s gloved hand.
  • Scuba diving is a big no-no. Babies have no protection from decompression sickness or gas embolism.
  • Do not partake in sports above an altitude of 2500m above sea level as both you and your baby could suffer from altitude sickness.

Recommended Exercises:

  • Core-strengthening exercises
  • Jogging
  • Pelvic tilt and pelvic floor exercises
  • Pilates
  • Pregnancy yoga (from 12 weeks)
  • Swimming
  • Light weightlifting

Have you built up an appetite with all this talk of exercise? Fancy a prawn sandwich but don't know if you should? Find out here.
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