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Exercise during pregnancy

Exercise during pregnancy

If you've always been active, pregnancy is no reason to stop; and if you haven't been exercising it's a great time to start.

In your mother's day, exercising while pregnant would have been frowned upon, but research has shown exercise has a number of benefits during pregnancy so the advice today is different.

Regular exercise can help reduce common problems during pregnancy like backache, leg cramps, constipation and high blood pressure; it can also help prevent or control gestational diabetes. Other benefits include weight management, faster labour and less need for pain relief and operative assistance during delivery.

Regular exercise also improves fitness and strength, boosts your energy and mood, and helps you sleep; beneficial whether you're pregnant or not, so get a partner involved too!

Just like everyone else, your aim is to be active for at least 30 minutes or more on most days.

  • Your heart is already working harder as your blood volume increases during pregnancy. Have enough breath to be able to hold a conversation while exercising

  • Pay attention to your body and don't overdo it, especially in hot weather

  • During pregnancy joints become more mobile and may be more susceptible to injury, so avoid high impact, jerky or bouncy movements
  • Even for the novice that includes walking, swimming, cycling (until you become too big) and low-impact aerobics

  • In later pregnancy your centre of gravity has changed so you may be less stable on your feet so choose exercises where you don't risk falls and take care not to put too much pressure on joints, lower back and pelvis.

  • Avoid lying on your back during later pregnancy as this can slow blood flow to the heart causing hypotension

  • Discuss your exercise plans with your LMC. Some exercises will be uncomfortable, too tiring or even unsafe. Women with some medical conditions may be advised not to exercise.

  • Get a good support bra!

First published: May 2007


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