Pre natal exercise

There is no doubt that exercise is hugely beneficial during pregnancy. However, to be safe though there are a few recommended guidelines and obvious exercises to avoid.

Benefits of pre natal exercise:

There are many benefits of exercising through your pregnancy. We have listed a few of the major ones below. You can exercise throughout your nine months provided your pregnancy is a normal, without complications.

  • Staying active during pregnancy will help keep your body stronger and more supple. You will have fewer problems with your joints, tendons, intestines, stomach and circulation.
  • Exercise will help prevent constipation, which is commonly experienced during pregnancy.
  • Exercise will make it easier for you to avoid gaining more weight than the average 10-12kg (22-26lb).
  • Childbirth is often physically demanding, requiring a lot of energy to push out a baby - particularly if this is your first child or there have been several years between births. Any extra help you can get has to be a good thing!

How do I exercise safely during pregnancy?

Before beginning any exercise programme during pregnancy it is recommended that you consult your doctor to check they are happy with the exercises and the intensity. Below are a few safety guidelines:

Stay cool - it is important to avoid overheating whilst pregnant, so be sure to exercise in a well ventilated room, dress in layers so you can shed them as you become warmed up and avoid exercising outside if it too warm.

Drink water - it is a necessity for anybody exercising to ensure they drink water before, during and after exercise, drinking small amounts regularly will prevent you from getting to the point where you body has to tell you it needs water.

Dont overdo it - you should avoid pushing yourself too far, you dont want to exercise to the point of exhaustion or breathlessness, ideally you should be able to hold a conversaiotn with someone whilst performing the exercise.

What are the warning signs to when I should stop exercising?

Stop exercising immediately and contact a medical professional if you experience any of the following during or after exercise: (ACOG Guidelines)

  • Bleeding
  • Dyspnea (laboured respiration) prior to exertion
  • Premature labour
  • Dizziness
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Feeling unusually tired
  • Headache
  • Chest pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Calf pain or swelling (need to rule out thrombophlebitis)
  • Decreased fetal movement
  • Amniotic fluid leakage

Pre natal exercise considerations

Planning - the exercise programme you follow should depend on two factors:

i) your current health - it is advisable to check with a medical professional prior to starting

ii) your activity and fitness levels prior to the pregnancy - if you were a regular exerciser then there wont be so much of a shock to the system. If you were a couch potato then you should begin slowly.

The key to exercise during pregnancy is maintenance and NOT fitness gains.

Sensible exercises - when choosing an activity, avoid any contact sports or activities that involve a lot of sudden sharp movements such as tennis or squash. After the first trimester, avoid exercising on your back (supine position). This decreases blood flow to your uterus and placenta and can cause dizziness.

Stretching - whether pregnant or not, it is important to stretch before and after any activity, however, for the pregnant, your changing hormones (more specifically, an increase in the hormone relaxin) also affect your joints, causing them to become relaxed and loose, especially in the pelvic area, knees, and elbows. So be sure not to overstretch.