Exercise In Pregnancy

Regular exercise is an important part of a healthy pregnancy, just as it is outside pregnancy. Many women wish to continue their regular physical exercise when they are pregnant, which should be encouraged. Undertaking regular exercise 2-3 times per week provides physical and psychological benefits. And for women who are not regular exercisers, pregnancy is the ideal time to start.

Benefits of exercise during pregnancy

  • Helps maintain a healthy body weight, reducing the risk of developing gestational diabetes
  • Helps improve physical fitness, which will be required when running after a new baby!
  • Has been shown to improve women’s mood and reduce depression in pregnancy
  • Can help improve lower backache, a common complaint among pregnant women

Will my pregnancy affect my regular exercise routine?

Pregnancy brings about natural changes in a woman’s body and physiology.

  • The hormone progesterone is known to produce a sensation of breathlessness.
  • A woman’s pelvis and joints naturally relax in pregnancy, in preparation for labour and delivery. This can make women more prone to joint injury during high-impact exercise.
  • Up to 40% of women experience stress urinary incontinence in pregnancy, which can cause embarrassing urinary leakage during exercise.
  • Be careful not to overheat – regular hydration is very important.

What is the best form of exercise in pregnancy?

Most forms of exercise are safe (within reason).

  • Non load-bearing exercise, such as swimming, yoga or gentle walking are good for women with back pain or joint issues
  • Jogging and cycling are also good forms of exercise
  • Martial arts, contact-sports and scuba diving should be avoided
  • Don’t forget about pelvic floor exercises!

Are there any situations in which I should avoid exercising altogether?

  • Women with preterm contractions or vaginal bleeding should first talk to their obstetrician
  • Women with pre-existing high blood pressure should watch excessive physical exercise
  • Women with pre-existing cardiac disease should be very careful about exercising while pregnant
  • Remember – there is no substitute for common sense. If you are worried, ask your doctor
  • FRANZCOG
  • Mater Hospital
  • North Shore Private Hospital
  • The University Of Sydney
  • Royal College Of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
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