There’s no doubt that you and your bump will benefit from some exercise. What you do will be determined in part by what you did before. Find something you enjoy, as long as there isn’t a risk of you falling or getting hit- now isn’t the time to take up a martial arts class!
As a guide, a pregnancy-friendly work-out level still allows you to hold a conversation, as you work out, without feeling breathless. If you feel dizzy or short of breath at any time you should stop.
Avoid lying on your back during exercise or rest as it can make you feel dizzy and light headed as your baby bump grows; this is because the weight of your uterus presses against the vena cava (a large vein that returns blood from the lower half of your body to your heart) which reduces the blood flow to the heart.
The hormone relaxin softens your ligaments during pregnancy so steer clear of bouncy, jerky exercises as you are more susceptible to injuring your joints. Good posture is important throughout your pregnancy, and particularly whilst exercising because your centre of gravity will shift as your pregnancy develops, making you more susceptible to losing your balance.
Many pregnant women enjoy swimming because of the feeling of being supported by the water. Yoga and pilates are also very common as they can help with backache and hip stretches. There are often specific pregnancy classes and be sure to tell your instructor you are pregnant before you start. If you are working out alone, or unsure about anything, please remember to ask your midwife.
Walking is great for cardiovascular health and reducing swollen ankles. Flat shoes, friendly terrain and a bottle of water and you are all set!
Swimming will reward you with a feeling of weightlessness and your buoyancy in the water will protect your joints and ligaments. Take care getting in and out of the pool and stay hydrated.
Stretching can help you to relax and enhance your flexibility; find some comfy clothing and some space and you are good to go. Remember to take things easy and go slowly.
Adrenaline junkies may need to slow it down. Avoid contact sports and activities where there is a high risk of falling or the potential for abdominal trauma. Don’t hold your breath during any activity and avoid sit ups and deep squats.
If you experience uterine contractions, vaginal bleeding or fluid leakage during or after exercise contact your doctor for a check-up.
Bump and baby weight place extra pressure on your pelvic floor, by strengthening it you reduce the likelihood of urine leak. To identify the muscles you need to work on imagine you want to stop urine mid-flow. Keep clenching and releasing. This video demonstrates how to do your pelvic floor exercises.
Most benefits of exercise during pregnancy are the same as those in non-pregnancy; endorphins boost your energy and mood. The added bump benefit is that an active pregnancy can benefit you and your baby in labour; evidence suggests that women who exercise in pregnancy have shorter labours and fewer complications.