During pregnancy, regular exercise improves your health and muscle tone to prepare for labour and delivery. Scientific studies have repeatedly shown that exercise in pregnancy does not increase the chance of pregnancy loss nor of premature delivery, nor does it cause low birth weight.
Pregnancy can often cause an increased sense of fatigue and low back pain. With only a few exceptions, a sedentary lifestyle in pregnancy will only worsen these symptoms. Pregnancy can be a good time to find motivation to start exercising, even if you have not been exercising for a while.
Why should I exercise in pregnancy?
Exercising in pregnancy can:
- Decrease back pain, constipation, bloatedness and swelling.
- Improve your mood and reduce fatigue.
- Improve quality of sleep.
- Prevent excessive weight gain.
- Improve muscle tone, strength and resistance.
Other benefits of exercising regularly during the whole duration of pregnancy are:
- Reducing the length of labour
- Reducing the chances of undergoing an emergency C-section.
- Reducing the chances of developing gestational diabetes.
- Reducing the chances of developing preeclampsia
You can safely begin an exercise program during pregnancy after consulting with your Gynaecologist. Your Gynaecologist might recommend avoiding exercise if you have:
- Heart or lung conditions
- Preeclampsia or hypertension developing in pregnancy
- A shortened or weak cervix
- Vaginal bleeding or spotting
- Problems affecting the placenta
- A risk of premature labour
- A twin pregnancy with a risk of premature labour
- Premature rupture of membranes
- Severe anemia
How much exercise can I do?
In general, a minimum of 30 minutes daily of aerobic exercise is recommended.
Brisk walking is a good idea, especially if you have not exercised regularly before. Swimming, low-impact aerobics and stationary cycling are also good options if you enjoy these.
Remember to hydrate with enough water and very gradually increase the intensity of exercising.
Which sports are not safe in pregnancy?
- Sports that keep you lying on your back, in the second and third trimester.
- Scuba diving
- Contact sports such as ice hockey, football, kickboxing, basketball, volleyball.
- Activities during which falling is likely: skiing, skating, gymnastics, horseback riding.
- High altitude exercises
- Hot yoga or Hot pilates
It is important that you stop immediately if you experience any of the following:
- Vaginal bleeding or liquid discharge.
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain
- Painful uterine contractions
- Calf pain or swelling
- Muscle weakness that reduces your balance
Exercising regularly in pregnancy improves your health and offers multiple benefits to the pregnancy and delivery outcomes.
Contact Dr Giada Frontino, our Consultant Gynaecologist for a face-to-face or virtual consultation.