Exercise during Pregnancy

Exercise is a very important part of our lives that ensures we become strong and healthy adults. It is common knowledge now that exercise has many health benefits for mental and physical health, it also aids in preventative health for diseases such type two diabetes and high blood pressure. Exercise during pregnancy has also shown to reduce risk of gestational diabetes and hypertension related problems. However not all exercises are suitable for pregnant women, so it is important to seek professional advice early.

What to expect?

Pregnancy can be a wonderful time in a woman’s life, the creation of new life can bring joy and exhilaration but also anxiety and exhaustion. A woman’s body goes through many changes and challenges during pregnancy, a few symptoms of these may include nausea, changes and increased levels of hormones such as estrogen and progesterone, tender and swollen breasts, fatigue and also frequent urination as the pregnancy progresses. They may also experience joint pain, as joint laxity increases with the natural hormonal changes of pregnancy.

All these changes during pregnancy can make exercising very difficult at times, however for those going through pregnancy without any complications guidelines from Exercise is Medicine Australia recommend 30 minutes of light to moderate physical activity per day.

Remaining active during pregnancy will help to maintain cardiovascular fitness and physical conditioning required for labour and motherhood. It will help prevent any pregnancy related diseases such as pre-eclampsia and reduces the risk of gestational obesity, diabetes and associated complications. Other benefits include:

  • Prevents and alleviates musculoskeletal conditions such as back and pelvic pain
  • Prevents and alleviates many pregnancy ailments such as fatigue and constipation
  • Enhances mental well-being, self-esteem and body image
  • Promotes faster recovery from labour and birth

It is Important to seek advice from your GP or obstetrician before commencing any new exercise program and seek advice if it is safe to continue your current exercise routine. Your treating doctor will inform you if your pregnancy is safe for exercise.

What Exercises should be avoided during Pregnancy:

  • Contact or high impact sports that may cause loss of balance or trauma
  • Exercising in an over heated Pool
  • Laying on your back after the 4th month of pregnancy
  • Examples of sports to be avoided: scuba diving, soccer, football, hockey, basketball, horse back riding and any vigorous racket sports.

 

Exercises that are suitable for Pregnancy:

  • Swimming
  • Walking
  • Specialised yoga/pilates ( pelvic floor exercises crucial for postnatal recovery)
  • General strength training
  • Hydrotherapy ( if in heated pool only in early months)

Contraindications for  Exercise

Exercise should be terminated immediately and medical advice sought if any of the following occur

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Dizziness
  • Dyspnea (difficult or laboured breathing prior to exercise)
  • Chest pain
  • Headache
  • Muscle weakness
  • Calf pain or swelling
  • Preterm labour
  • Decreased fetal movement
  • Amniotic fluid leakage

Where/how to start exercising during pregnancy ?

Once your Doctor has given you the all clear to start exercising, you may wish to seek guidance from one of our Accredited Exercise Physiologists or Physiotherapist who are trained in providing the best safe practice for exercise during pregnancy.

Our practitioners can help set you up with a safe home exercise program to help maintain your cardiovascular fitness and well as specific strength and conditioning targeting areas that will benefit you during pregnancy and post-natal recovery as well.

Things to remember

Stop any exercise if you experience any of the above contraindications

After the first trimester, women should avoid any supine positions (laying on your back) while exercising to prevent venous obstruction

Increased laxity in joints may cause injury if not managed appropriately

Always seek medical advice from your GP before commencing/continuing exercise during pregnancy.

Lastly remember to love and cherish your body, every woman’s pregnancy journey is a unique experience and a healthy mind is such an important part of creating a healthy body and new life.

Written By Rhiannon Northcott (Accredited Exercise Physiologist)

 

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