Exercise During Pregnancy
Bed rest simply because you are pregnant is a very old fashioned and potentially dangerous practice, except for in certain circumstances. Remaining active is important to help you stay physically fit for pregnancy, childbirth and afterwards. Physical activity during pregnancy is good for the health of you and your baby; it can also give you more energy, relieve aches and pains and improve your mood.
If you already exercise regularly continue to aim for 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity 5 days a week. If you do not currently exercise regularly start gently and gradually increase to 30 minutes of moderate activity most days a week.
During pregnancy be careful not to exercise to the point of exhaustion; you should still be able to talk while carrying out the activity. Be aware that the growing baby can affect your balance and the extra weight can put added strain on your joints and muscles making it easier for you to injure yourself. Your pregnancy hormones can also cause your ligaments to become more flexible so be careful not to over-stretch. Remember to drink plenty of water before, during and after physical activity and you may find a sports bra or maternity bra will help you to feel comfortable.
Listen to your body and if a certain type of activity is becoming more difficult or starting to become painful, cause dizziness or breathlessness you should stop. If you think you have injured yourself seek review from a medical professional. Talk to your maternity provider about gentler exercise alternatives.
Some examples of exercise that is safe for most women during pregnancy are:
- Swimming/water walking/aqua aerobics
- Strength-based exercises
- Pregnancy-specific exercise classes
Some examples of physical activity that are best to avoid during pregnancy are:
- Scuba diving
- Contact sports that have a risk of being hit in the stomach such as netball, rugby, martial arts
- Sports with a risk of falling such as horse riding
- Activities that require excessive stretching, jumping or frequent changes of direction such as gymnastics
- Exercising in hot or humid environments such as bikram yoga
- Anything that involves lying on your back for extended periods of time (as your baby grows, the weight of your uterus puts pressure on some major blood vessels and can cause dizziness when lying in a supine position)
If you are unsure whether a certain type of physical activity is safe during pregnancy discuss it with your maternity care provider.