Exercise During Pregnancy
Is it safe to exercise during pregnancy?
In short, yes! If you have clearance by your Obstetrician/care provider and you do not classify as a high risk pregnancy, it is safe to continue to exercise.
How much exercise?
The WHO (World Health Organisation) recommends that a pregnant woman continue with the general female activity
recommendation which is for 150mins of moderate-vigorous exercise, or 300mins of light activity per week.
What does this mean for women who were inactive VS active prior to pregnancy?
A currently active woman can continue her usual activities, with some modifications as pregnancy progresses. A previously inactive woman can BEGIN an exercise routine, to incrementally work her way up to the recommended weekly minimum.
Becoming pregnant is such an exciting time, but it can be normal to feel unsure about whether or not you can continue with your normal exercise routine.
What are the benefits to exercising in pregnancy?
For the normal, uncomplicated pregnancy, consider the type of exercise that provides physical and mental benefits to your wellbeing, without overly stressing your nervous system, joints and energy levels.
EXERCISE MODIFICATIONS/CONSIDERATIONS THROUGHOUT EACH TRIMESTER:
• Take the pressure off yourself if feeling nauseas/lethargic especially in the first trimester. A light walk may help with nausea and energy levels.
• Modify jumping/running exercises to minimise pelvic floor impact particularly in the second and third trimesters as babies weight starts to increase. Our pelvic floor is supporting our bowel, bladder and uterus. The increase weight of the growing baby as well as hormonal changes causing these tissues to become more lax- Running and jumping puts more pressure on these tissues.
• Avoid exercise that can cause you to overheat (eg, hot yoga), take longer breaks when needed and drink plenty of water
• Reduce weights if strength training – your goal is no longer to progressively increase load
• Focus on gentle core activation (speak to your Chiropractor or Women’s Health Physio about this)
Abdominal compression i.e sit-ups should be avoided from early in pregnancy, to avoid excessive compression of the uterus, but more so to avoid tensioning the rectus abdominus/anterior abdominal wall as this will increase the likelihood of a diasistis recti (abdominal separation)
• Focus on pelvic floor contracting and relaxing (Kegels)
• Include aerobic exercises considering the BORG scale – or a scale of ‘Rate of Perceived Exertion’ This is a scale of 6-20, and we want you to aim at the 12-14/20 level – working moderately hard but able
to talk whilst exercising.
• At some point throughout the second trimester you won’t want to lie on your stomach any more, for obvious reasons, so let this naturally evolve as you feel ready to avoid.
• Avoid laying on your back if uncomfortable from 16-20 weeks. This is due to the weight of the baby compressing the inferior vena cava (blood flow return to the heart) and so can restrict blood flow to both mother and baby if compression occurs. You will generally know about this if it’s happening – you will feel light headed and a bit breathless.
• You may be dizzy at times (particularly in the third trimester) so take your time changing positions. Postural hypotension is common throughout pregnancy and can be worse in later pregnancy, as venous return is often poorer (think swollen puffy ankles).
• Avoid team/ contact sports, for mitigating the risk of contact / impact injury to yourself or your bub, as well as sudden
change of direction being too straining for your ligaments/ joints
Not only is exercise in pregnancy safe, but it is recommended for labour, post partum recovery, minimising the risks of pregnancy induced medical conditions, pelvic pain, and is great for your overall mental health.
Just remember to do what feels safe for you, don’t push yourself beyond your new capabilities, and if in doubt, speak to a professional.
Share with a new mama to be who might find this reassuring