2 February, 2021
Exercising During Pregnancy
Approximate Reading Time: 5 minutes
Congratulations!! What an exciting time. But what now? Can you do what your usual exercise class? Is running safe? How much is too much -- or too little? We have you covered.
Safety of Exercising during Pregnancy
Continuing or starting a new exercise program during pregnancy is generally safe for uncomplicated pregnancies. There may be some ways your current exercise routines can be altered to be pregnancy friendly.
Exercising during pregnancy is more than just feeling and looking good now. Increasing your fitness and strength makes active labour easier and shorter. It helps the long hours of holding your precious baby after the birth. It reduces the chances of gestational diabetes and high blood pressure (preeclampsia / eclampsia). Even more than that, exercising during pregnancy actually changes your baby's adult health.
- Don't overheat. Dress appropriately with loose fitting clothes, drink plenty of water, take breaks when you need to and avoid heated classes (particularly important in the first trimester).
- Wear supportive clothes such as a sports bra and, later in pregnancy, belly support.
- Be gentle on yourself. Do what you can when you can but no more.
Activities to avoid
- Contact sports and those with a risk of falling (eg: aerial yoga, skiing, gymnastics)
- Hot classes (eg: Bikram yoga, hot yoga, hot pilates)
- Heavy weights as it places pressure on pelvic floor and already stretched stomach muscles
- Breath holding
Stop exercising if you experience
- Vaginal bleeding
- Feeling dizzy or faint
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Muscle weakness
- Calf pain or swelling
- Abdominal pain
- Regular, painful contractions of the uterus
- Fluid gushing or leaking from the vagina
If you have concerns while exercising, or at any stage, speak to your pregnancy & birth team.
What Exercises to do During Pregnancy
It's recommended to perform gentle aerobic and strength training during pregnancy.
You should be aiming for 150 minutes of aerobic exercise a week. Some ideas include:
- Brisk walking
- Stationary bike
- Water aerobics
- If you are a current runner, it may still be appropriate but get medical clearance first
How far you push yourself does depend on your health, fitness levels and a few different factors. If in doubt, be gentle. If it doesn't feel right, slow down or stop.
Strength training should be performed twice weekly and might include:
- Bodyweight or light weights
- Stronger forms of yoga (like Vinyasa or Hatha)
Stretches can help you feel comfortable and create balance in the pelvis to give baby room.
Move your body and feel what works for you.
Some common stretches that pregnant women enjoy are:
- Glute stretch
- Open Book Stretch
- Exercising during uncomplicated pregnancies is generally safe and has a lot of benefits
- Be kind to yourself- take breaks, slow down and do only what feels right. It may be different every day.
- If you don't feel well or have bleeding, don't exercise and speak to your healthcare team.
- Incorporate 150 minutes of gentle moderate aerobic exercise, two strength sessions and stretches weekly
About the Author
Dr Cassie Atkinson-Quinton - Chiropractor, Doula, Women's Health Yoga & Pilates Instructor, Spinning Babies Lover
As a Chiropractor, Doula and perinatal Pilates & Yoga instructor, Dr Cassie loves to help pregnant women keep fit, healthy and comfortable. Knowing how empowering it felt to be fit and energetic during the pregnancy of her son inspires Cassie to want this for her patients. Cassie incorporates Spinning Babies, Yoga and Pilates exercises into her prenatal and postpartum Chiropractic sessions. She's currently studying her Graduate Certificate in Women's Health Medicine through the University of New South Wales.