Exercise During Pregnancy
Exercise during pregnancy was once believed to be too strenuous on the unborn baby and have negative effects on its development, but now we know that this isn’t true - in fact it actually benefits the mother and baby. Moderate exercise for between 15-30 minutes 3 times a week, actually increases the baby’s brain development and improves its cardiovascular health.
There are also many benefits to the mum:
- Improves muscle tone, strength and endurance which helps prepare you for labour
- Boosts your mood and helps prevent postnatal depression
- Improves sleep
- Reduces the aches and pains that occurs during pregnancy
- Helps prevent and treat gestational diabetes as well as pre-eclampsia
- Makes it easier for your body to get back into shape after he/she is born
There are lots of types of exercises that are advised through pregnancy, but essentially you’re looking to increase your heart rate without causing too much physical stress – you should still be able to talk while exercising without a huge effort. If you didn’t previously exercise you should start slower by perhaps going for brisk walks and you should talk to your doctor or midwife before you start. Below is a list of suitable exercises for while you’re pregnant, but don’t forget you can also get a lot of exercise in your day to day lives – take the stairs rather than the lift, and remember gardening and housework also counts as exercise!
This is a great pregnancy exercise as it can be done right up to delivery. It’s low impact and increases the heart rate and can be done at your own intensity.
If you previously ran then there is no need to stop as it’s a great quick way to get some exercise and increase your heart rate. If running is new to you it’s probably best to concentrate on a gentler exercise like walking or swimming. It’s also advised that you reduce the intensity and speed of your running towards the end of your pregnancy to avoid falls and impact on your joints.
This is a good way to keep toned through pregnancy, especially if you did it previously. You must remember to use light weights and don’t overstrain your body as it could cause injury.
Aerobics during pregnancy keeps your heart and lungs strong, and there are various different types of classes available for all levels of experience. No matter what level of fitness you’re at you will need to make sure to do low impact exercises for example, aqua aerobics.
One of the best exercises you can do is swimming as it relieves some of the aches and pains of pregnancy and is gentle on your joints. You can also do it at your own pace to suit your fitness level.
Yoga strengthens your core which is great preparation for labour and getting back into shape post birth. It has also been said that it can actually make labour quicker and more comfortable.
Similar to Yoga, Pilates helps strengthen the core muscles and straighten your posture. It will also aid in breathing techniques and relaxation. Pilates is very much focused on strengthening the muscles that can weaken during pregnancy, in a way that supports, rather than strains them.
Lastly and possibly most important of all is to exercise your pelvic floor muscles – you'll be glad you did this once the baby is born!
If you experience any of the following symptoms you should stop exercising and contact your doctor immediately and you may also need to lessen the activity as you get further on in your pregnancy; contractions, chest pain, dizziness, calf pain or swelling, less movement by the baby, headache, muscle weakness, fluid leaking from your vagina or vaginal bleeding.