Exercise in Pregnancy
Exercise in Pregnancy
Doing some form of exercise in pregnancy is beneficial to you and your developing baby. Normally, moderate exercise during pregnancy is safe, however there are some types of exercise that need to be avoided. It is best to combine some aerobic exercise with exercises to help strengthen your muscles. Thirty minutes of exercise during pregnancy is ideal but it is recommended that you do not exceed 45 minutes.
Exercises that are considered to be safe in pregnancy
This is exercise that will make your heart beat faster and your lungs work harder. This helps to increase the flow of oxygen around your body and ensures a good oxygen supply is delivered to your developing pregnancy.
Examples of aerobic exercise are:
- Brisk walking
Exercises in Pregnancy to strengthen muscles
These are exercises that will help to strengthen your muscles and improve your overall fitness.
Examples of muscle strengthening exercises are:
- Climbing stairs
- Pelvic floor exercises
Exercises that should be avoided in pregnancy
- Exercises where you may lose your balance or fall such as skiing, ice skating, gymnastics, cycling and horse riding.
- Exercises such as judo, boxing or kickboxing where there is a risk of injuring your stomach.
- Scuba diving should be avoided as it can cause problems with the circulation in your developing baby due to the change in pressure.
- Exercising while lying on your back after 16 weeks of pregnancy should be avoided as your baby may squash one of your main blood vessels, lowering your blood pressure and making you feel faint and lightheaded.
Benefits of exercise in pregnancy
- Promotes a sense of well being and helps reduce the risk of depression and anxiety in pregnancy.
- Helps to maintain a healthy sleep pattern therefore reducing tiredness in pregnancy.
- Helps to maintain a healthy weight in pregnancy.
- Reduces the risk of developing varicose veins, back pain and swelling of your feet and ankles.
- Reduces the risk of developing diabetes and high blood pressure during pregnancy.
- Muscle strengthening exercises during pregnancy can help to shorten labour and reduce the risk of complications when delivering your baby.
Risks of exercise during pregnancy
- You may get too hot because your body temperature increases more when you exercise in pregnancy. A high body temperature (above 39.2 degrees centigrade) during the first twelve weeks of pregnancy may affect the development of your baby. To reduce this risk make sure that you drink plenty of water during exercise, avoid over exerting yourself and avoid exercising when it is very hot or humid.
- You are more prone to injury when exercising in pregnancy. This is due to hormonal changes that can make your joints loser and less stable. To avoid this it is important that you do warm up and cool down exercises.
- There is a risk that your blood sugar may become low when exercising during pregnancy. It is important to eat well and not to exercise for longer than 45 minutes.
When not to exercise in pregnancy
- If you have any vaginal bleeding
- If you have a heart or lung problem or are suffering from chest pain
- If you have high blood pressure
- If you feel dizzy or faint
- If you have shortness of breath
- If you are experiencing any pain in your back, pelvis or abdomen
- If there is any pain or swelling in your calf
- If you have a headache
- If a scan has shown that your baby is small-for-dates
- If there is any sign of premature labour such as leakage of fluid or contraction type pain
- If your baby is moving around less
- If you have weakness in your muscles
- If you have a weak cervix or have a cervical stitch
- If you have been told that a scan has shown your placenta is low lying
It is also important to speak to your doctor or midwife before exercising in pregnancy if you smoke, are very unfit or if you are overweight.