Is it safe to exercise while being pregnant? It is indeed not only for yourselves but for your baby’s own health during pregnancy and after birth. There has been evidence on systematic reviews that for healthy women, during their pregnancy exercise is safe and is associated with numerous benefits.
The female reproductive system goes through many changes when pregnant. These factors are changing your body, but exercise will help and encourage your body to adjust to the upcoming experience of having a baby.
Before beginning to exercise
Before you begin to exercise, the advice no matter what fitness level you are (inactive, active, athletes) would be to consult with your GP before initiating any physical activity to rule out any complications. Once the GP gives the all-clear any exercise regimen should be individually structured to the patient; her goals, physical conditioning and general health should be considered.
Exercises For Pregnancy
Specific exercises to include into your training regime include aerobic and resistance training exercises such as (swimming, walking, training large muscle groups, water-based exercises and include pelvic floor exercises).
Anatomical and physiological changes will occur during the process of pregnancy, so modifications towards exercise techniques and/or programs may be required. It is generally recommended that resistance training during pregnancy involve light to moderate weights and any isometric muscle contractions are avoided.
It is also important to ensure that beginners are supervised to ensure safe techniques and proper breathing techniques are practised. Another recommendation is after the first trimester to avoid exercises that involve being in the supine position.
Lying on the back can pose a risk of decreased cardiac output and restricted blood flow to the fetus. A good alternative is to stay in a seated position while performing activities, especially during strength training.
Pelvic floor exercises are important during pregnancy as they will help strengthen and improve the pelvic muscles which provide support around the structure and anatomy. It involves repetitive contractions and encourages you to do this 3 times per day of 8-12 movements.
A program should be specifically designed by a medical professional to go through with you how to do these exercises. You can do these sitting with weight forward (hands-on knees) and sitting upright.
What are the benefits of exercise during pregnancy?
- Preventing gestational diabetes.
- Decreasing the risk of preeclampsia.
- Preventing excess maternal weight gain.
- Improved muscular strength and endurance.
- Reduced back and pelvic pain.
- Reduced fatigue, stress, anxiety, and depression.
- Fewer delivery complications in women who are active during their pregnancy.
When exercising make sure you are being safe and cautious, always check in with your GP or medical professional, keep hydrated and enjoy the benefits of improvements and wellbeing during your pregnancy.
Wing, C.H., & Stannard, A.B. (2016). ACSM’s Health and Fitness Journal. Pregnancy and Exercise Guidelines. Fifty Years Makes a Difference, 4-6.
Tobias D, Zhang C, van Dam R, et al. (2011). Physical activity before and during pregnancy and risk of gestational diabetes mellitus: a meta-analysis. Diabetes Care. 223-229.
McArdle, W.D., & Katch, F.I., & Katch, V.L. (2010). Exercise Physiology. Nutrition, Energy and Human Performance, 485-489