The good news if you already have a reasonable exercise level and are otherwise healthy, it’s perfectly fine to continue this during your pregnancy, with just a few considerations.
Exercising during pregnancy isn’t dangerous for your baby, and there is evidence that having an active lifestyle whilst pregnant leads to less risk of complications occurring during labour.
Benefits of exercising for you and your baby
There are lots of benefits to exercising during pregnancy, including improving your mood and sleep quality. Exercise will also help with regulating your weight and prepare your body for giving birth by keeping your muscles active and strong. It can help reduce backaches, bloating and swelling. Evidence also suggests that exercising safely reduces blood pressure and helps prevent osteoporosis. If a regular weekly routine is followed, there is a reduced risk of needing a C-section, and often leads to a shortened labour.
The safest exercises throughout your pregnancy are low impacts such as swimming, walking, indoor cycling or yoga and pilates. It’s useful to advise the instructor of your pregnancy so they can make any adjustments to the activities for you in a workout class. Consider exercising with a friend or partner who can help support you. Remember to stretch, warm-up and cool down – keeping hydrated with plenty of water throughout.
As an expectant mother, resistance exercises are a great and safe way to maintain strength, especially for your lower body. Any pelvic floor exercises will be very beneficial to help avoid diastasis recti (abdominal separation) after the baby is born. A resistance band is a great way to exercise different muscle groups, it can be used at home, offering a practical and easier option as your pregnancy progresses. Exercises to consider incorporating can include squats, lunges and light core activities.
Start with no more than 15/20 minutes twice a week, than gradually increase if you feel able to 30 minutes three or four times a week. When approaching the end of your pregnancy, consider opting for a reduced programme of a light walk as often as is comfortable.
What to avoid
It’s important to avoid any twisting moments and lying on your back for prolonged periods after 12 weeks. Avoid lifting heavy weights as there is a risk of trauma to your stomach. Activities when falling is a risk should be avoided such as outdoor bike riding, horse riding and ice skating.
It’s best to consider alternatives to contact sports such as netball, football and martial arts as it can pose a risk of injury. Please stop exercising immediately if you have any discomfort including dizziness or feeling faint, stomach pain or palpitations.
If you are unsure, please consult your GP who can advise of the impact of existing health conditions. It is worth considering a couple of sessions with a personal trainer who specialises in safely exercising during pregnancy. This will put your mind at ease and help you to feel more confident when doing independent activities.