According to experts, gentle exercise during pregnancy can help to keep themselves and their baby healthy, however heavy exercises should be avoided.
Staying active and fit during pregnancy will help you to adapt your shape and weight gain. It will also help labour and recover your shape after childbirth.
Midwives often advise to keep active during pregnancy. This has many health benefits for mum and baby. Staying fit prepares the body for the stresses of pregnancy and birth and helps control weight gain.
Swimming and walking are among the best activities pregnant women can do.
A study published in journal Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica found that pre-pregnant body mass index and weight gain in pregnancy are important predictors of a baby’s birth weight.
The National Health Service (NHS) recommend keeping up with your normal daily activity or exercise during pregnancy for as long as you feel comfortable. You may need to slow down as your exercise during pregnancy if you are becoming more breathless.
NHS advice on exercise during pregnancy
- Always warm up before exercising, and cool down afterwards.
- Try to keep active on a daily basis: half an hour of walking each day can be enough, but if you can’t manage that, any amount is better than nothing.
- Avoid any strenuous exercise in hot weather.
- Drink plenty of water and other fluids.
- If you go to exercise classes, make sure your teacher is properly qualified, and knows that you’re pregnant and how many weeks pregnant you are.
- You might like to try swimming because the water will support your increased weight. Some local swimming pools provide aqua-natal classes with qualified instructors.
Exercise during pregnancy to avoid
- Don’t lie flat on your back, particularly after 16 weeks, because the weight of your bump presses on the big blood vessels and can make you feel faint.
- Don’t take part in contact sports where there’s a risk of being hit, such as kickboxing, judo or squash.
- Don’t take part in horse-riding, downhill skiing, ice hockey, gymnastics and cycling, because there’s a risk of falling.
- Don’t go scuba-diving, because the baby has no protection against decompression sickness and gas embolism (gas bubbles in the bloodstream).
- Don’t exercise at heights over 2,500m above sea level until you have acclimatised: this is because you and your baby are at risk of altitude sickness (a decrease in oxygen).
The NHS also has some great advice on strengthening pelvic floor and stomach muscles through exercise during pregnancy. Follow the link below.
Exercise in Pregnancy – NHS Choices
Further reading on Exercise During Pregnancy
Exercise during pregnancy ’is good for mother and baby’ – Spire Healthcare
Maternal pre-pregnant body mass index, maternal weight change and offspring birthweight- US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health
Koepp et al., “Maternal pre-pregnant body mass index, maternal weight change and offspring birthweight”,
Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica, 2011.
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