Exercise during pregnancy

If you were a gym bunny, jogger or general working-out kind of girl before you conceived, there is no reason to stop exercising the minute you find out you are pregnant – as long as whatever you are doing is safe, and still feels comfortable. Alternatively, if you’re the opposite of the above, and don’t exercise, you should start as it can help you cope with the physical changes of pregnancy and build stamina for the challenges ahead (such as labour and meeting your little one for the first time). If you haven’t been exercising regularly, use pregnancy as your motivation to begin.

Pregnancy can take all of your energy, but regular exercise will help you get through your day. And the good news is that you can safely start an exercise program during pregnancy even if you’ve been an avid couch potato until now. Pregnancy might even seem like the perfect time to sit back and relax as you will probably feel more tired than usual, your back might ache, and your ankles might be swollen. But guess what? There’s more to pregnancy and exercise than skipping it entirely. Unless you’re experiencing serious complications, sitting around won’t help. In fact, pregnancy can be a great time to get active- even if you haven’t exercised in a while.

Staying active

Obviously, the bigger your bump gets, the more you will have to slow down your regime, and depending on what kind of exercise or sport you take part in, adjust it, or switch to something more suitable for you and your growing little one during pregnancy.

Swimming, walking and yoga are all excellent for mums-to-be, and give you an energy boost, as well as keeping you supple, fit and healthy. Some gyms will run special sessions for pregnant women, so have a look at what is available to you locally, or ask your midwife if she knows of any ante-natal classes.

Strengthen your muscles

There are some specific exercises you can do in pregnancy to strengthen your muscles – and not just your tummy and back ones! Keeping your pelvic floor in shape will stand to you after your baby is born!

The Benefits

Being fit and active during pregnancy has wonderful benefits, from an easier labour and restful sleep, to having more energy.

  • Exercise won’t hurt your baby, as long as you do it safely and avoid risky sports. And we’re not talking triathlons or extreme sports – just a spot of everyday exercise will make a big difference.
  • Fit for the future – if you’re stronger and fitter, you’ll find it easier to cope with your changing shape and natural weight gain.
  • Labour – exercising now will help you cope better with that whole labour thing.
  • Bounce back – staying toned will help you get back into shape after the birth.
  • Ease anxiety – exercise is a well-known remedy for anxiety.
  • Better Sleep – by moving during the day can help you tackle that well known ‘pregnancy insomnia’.
  • Mood booster – exercise will help with all the crazy hormonal changes.
  • Ease the pressure – being active may reduce swelling in those hands and feet, and help ward off varicose veins too.
  • Avoid complications – managing your weight gain reduces the chances of developing high blood pressure or gestational diabetes.
  • Ease backache – tailored pregnancy exercises can help you carry the extra weight of pregnancy, as well as making your joints stronger, improving circulation and easing backache.

And it won’t hurt you or your baby, as long as you do it safely.

But there a few activities you really do need to avoid:

  • Contact sports- anything where there’s a risk of falling heavily or being hit is a complete no-no (kickboxing, judo, and horse riding are out for a while)
  • Scuba diving – your baby has no protection against decompression sickness and gas bubbles in the bloodstream, so if the sea bed is your thing, stick to snorkelling until after your little one is born!
  • Heights – to avoid to chance of you and your baby getting altitude sickness.
  • Lying flat on your back – so it’s not really an activity but still something you should avoid as it can make you feel faint because the weight of your growing bump presses on the main blood vessel pumping blood back to your heart, so you should avoid it as your bump gets bigger.

Happy exercising!