Exercise while pregnant
Exercising during your pregnancy can boost your physical and mental wellbeing. Before you start, run your exercise plan past a healthcare professional.
Why exercise when pregnant
Exercising during your pregnancy has many benefits. Not only can it boost your physical and emotional wellbeing, but it can also decrease the risk of some pregnancy-related complications.
You can exercise while pregnant whether you did so pre-pregnancy or not. For those of you that were fit and healthy before falling pregnant, the main message is to keep it up – although you may need to modify your exercise program and stop playing some sports (see below).
If you didn’t exercise before you fell pregnant, now is the perfect time to ease yourself into a comfortable routine. By becoming more active, you’ll cope better with the physical changes of pregnancy and build your stamina for the rigours of birth and early parenthood.
Need motivation? Here are some of the benefits of doing exercise when pregnant:
- Improved fitness – you’ll find it easier to cope with your changing shape, natural weight gain and the physical demands of labour
- Faster recovery – staying toned and fit will help you get back into shape after the birth
- Reduced anxiety – exercise is a well-known remedy for anxiety
- Improved sleep – by staying active during the day, you may be rewarded with better sleep at night
- Improved circulation – being active may reduce swelling in your hands and feet
- Less risk of complications – managing your weight gain reduces the chances of developing high blood pressure or gestational diabetes
- Reduced back pain – tailored pregnancy exercises can help you carry the extra weight of pregnancy, make your joints stronger, improve circulation and ease backache
Remember, you should check with your healthcare professional before embarking on an exercise program. And, as your bump grows, you may need to dial down your efforts.
Top exercises for pregnant mums
Activities that are generally considered to be safe for pregnant mums include:
- Yoga, stretching and other floor exercise
- Pregnancy-specific exercise classes
Don’t forget your pelvic floor exercises, too. It’s important to do these from the very start of pregnancy, and resume them when it feels comfortable after the birth.
When you’re exercising, listen to your body. Don’t push yourself like you might do when you’re not pregnant, stay well hydrated, and know when to stop.
Exercises to avoid while pregnant
There are some sports and activities that you should definitely avoid when pregnant. These include:
- Contact sports (e.g. judo, basketball, soccer)
- Heavy lifting (e.g. weight lifting)
- High altitude training
- Scuba diving
- Sports with risk of falls (e.g. skiing, skating, horse riding)
If you have any doubts or questions about what types of exercise are safe for you at your stage and condition, please consult your healthcare professional.