Why you should exercise during pregnancy
Whilst it’s important during pregnancy to get the rest that you need – after all you are growing a life – it is also important to exercise for lots of reasons. Whether you have been exercising regularly in the lead up to pregnancy or just want to be as healthy as possible for your growing child, there are lots of reasons why exercising is highly beneficial during pregnancy.
So, why should you exercise during pregnancy?
Maintaining a healthy weight
Exercising during pregnancy can help to prevent excess weight gain and it lowers the risk of gestational diabetes.
Boosting your energy levels
Exercise is proven to boost energy levels and your mood – and anyone who’s been pregnant will tell you that sometimes you need this much needed boost, both physically and emotionally.
Reducing pregnancy symptoms
Back pain, pelvic pain, constipation, bloating and swelling are all pregnancy symptoms that can be relieved by exercising. Exercising also reduces the risk of pregnancy complications like pregnancy-induced hypertension and pre-eclampsia.
Preparing for labour
Labour can be like running a marathon and having endurance, strength and increased muscle tone can help you to prepare for the physical demands of labour. Exercise can also help to shorten the length of labour and reduces the chance of needing to have a c-section delivery.
After you’ve given birth, having exercised during pregnancy can help for a faster recovery. Not only can exercise provide you with an increased ability to be able to cope with the physical demands that come with being a parent to a newborn, but pregnancy exercise can help with the prevention and management of urinary incontinence.
Are you ok to exercise during pregnancy?
Before you kick off your pregnancy exercise program it’s important to get the go ahead from your health care provider. Whilst exercise during pregnancy is encouraged, there are some conditions that may require you to rest up including:
- Pre-eclampsia or high blood pressure
- Heart or lung disease
- Vaginal bleeding in the second or third trimester
- Cervical or placenta problems
- If you have previously suffered from preterm labour
- Are carrying multiples
- Have Anaemia (low iron)
What exercise should you do?
Once you have the go ahead from your health care professional to get moving – at least 30 minutes of exercise is recommended to do at least most, if not all days of the week. If you haven’t exercised for a while start with 10 minutes a day and build yourself up over time. If you are continuing to exercise from before you were pregnant you can continue to workout at the same intensity, but make sure to do pregnancy approved exercises.
Walking, cycling, swimming, jogging, muscle strengthening exercises (including pelvic floor exercises), pregnancy pilates & yoga are all great during pregnancy.
Make sure to stretch, warm up and cool down when you exercise and drink plenty of fluids and be careful that you don’t overheat. Don’t be too intense about your exercise either. During pregnancy a good rule is that you should be able to still carry on a conversation while you are exercising. Being out of breath whist exercising is a sign that your oxygen and blood flow is going to your muscles and could be going away from your uterus.
As with all exercise, whether you are pregnant or not, it is important to listen to your body. Stop exercising and get in touch with your health care provider if you experience dizziness, headaches, vaginal bleeding, increased shortness of breath, chest pains, painful contractions that continue after rest, calf pain or swelling, muscle weakness that affects balance or fluid leaking from your vagina.
What exercise should you avoid?
The physical changes that your body goes through over the duration of a pregnancy make some types of exercise not suitable.
You should avoid exercise that is dangerous either through the risk of falling (skiing, gymnastics, horseback riding, waterskiing) or being hit with something at force (hockey, soccer, basketball, kickboxing,). As mentioned above, not overheating is important, so avoid hot exercise like hot water or pilates and avoid exercising at high altitudes, as this can lead to low oxygen.
It’s important that any exercise that you do is enjoyable makes you feel good. A happy and healthy Mama is what’s best for your little one.
What exercise do you like to do during pregnancy?