Exercising while you are pregnant is an excellent way to keep your mind, body and baby healthy. Let’s take a look at how you should approach exercise during pregnancy.
Can You Really Exercise When Pregnant?
Yes! However, once you find out you are pregnant, you should speak to your doctor or gynaecologist before you commence any exercises or continue with your usual routines.
Your doctor will need to make sure that your exercises are of the right intensity and won’t place you or your baby at harm. He/she will then “approve” you for exercise and chat to you about what types of exercises you can do.
How Much Should You Exercise?
For the majority of women, exercising around 10-30 minutes per day is ideal and often recommended. If you haven’t been exercising regularly to date, you can start with 10-15 minute low intensity exercises and slowly work your way up to 30 minute routines.
In general, you should engage in exercise that is of a moderate level of intensity. Exercising regularly means you will be able to:
- Maintain your baby’s health and development
- Keep your energy levels up
- Reduce stress, exhaustion and fatigue
- Boost your mental and emotional wellbeing
- Prepare your body for labour and delivery
- Help your body recover after labour
- Control your weight, posture and other physical ailments (like aches, pains)
- Improve your sleep and reduce insomnia
Recent studies in the US have also shown that exercising before your baby is born can even help boost your child’s neurological development and maturity!
What Exercises Can You Do?
If you are in good health, you should be able to maintain your exercise routines after you fall pregnant. While your doctor will advise what exercises will be suitable for your specific situation, common pregnancy exercises can include:
- Walking or light jogging
- Swimming or other aqua activities (e.g. aqua-aerobics)
- Pelvic floor exercises – great for strengthening those pelvic muscles!
- Yoga, pilates and other stretching exercises (find a class for pregnant women and/or make sure your instructor is experienced in teaching pregnant women)
- Light aerobic exercises (e.g. dancing, step class)
Generally speaking, pregnant women should avoid participating in contact sports, competitive sports or overly intense exercises. Remember, always chat to your doctor about your individual exercise routines.
What Do I Need To Be Wary Of While Exercising?
- Don’t exercise if you are feeling ill, unwell or feverish; some women also avoid exercise if they are suffering from morning sickness or nausea
- Don’t push your body too hard; raising your heart level too high, heavy sweating and exhaustion can all be unhealthy for your pregnancy and baby
- Avoid exercises that are too strenuous or that involve lifting anything too heavy
- If you injure yourself or become unwell while exercising, stop immediately and speak to your doctor before you continue with your routines; some things to watch out for include headaches, dizziness, fatigue, physical pain, shortness of breath, vaginal bleeding or contractions
Tips for Staying Well During Exercise
- Drink lots of water whenever you exercise! It’s important to stay hydrated
- Keep your energy up by staying nourished and eating the right foods
- Warm up and cool down accordingly each session; don’t jump straight into a routine before your body is ready
- After the first trimester, avoid exercises that involve lying flat on your back, as this can reduce the blood flow to both you and your baby
Dr Matthew Wilson is an experienced gynaecologist operating at Norwest Private Hospital. To learn more, visit www.drmatthewwilson.com.au or book a consultation today.