So, we know that being active when pregnant and maintaining your fitness routine (where possible) is good for you, your pregnancy (and labour) and your baby. But how does it help and what type of exercise during pregnancy is best for your body and baby?
We caught up with Midwife Cat Law to get the lowdown on her advice on exercise during pregnancy.
Being pregnant and giving birth are both very physically demanding. Having a reasonable level of fitness will help a woman manage, not only the changes in her body during pregnancy, but also the demands of labour and birth.
There are so many benefits that exercise can bring to a pregnant mother.
Firstly, it is quite normal to gain weight during pregnancy. It is actually required for a healthy pregnancy.
And while exercising will help in managing that gain, there are a number of other advantages to exercising and keeping active during pregnancy.
The use of exercise can positively impact on labour in several ways. The energy a women’s body uses during labour can be equated to running a marathon. A reasonable level of fitness with help not only with endurance but also the confidence in her body’s ability to give birth. The inclusion of pelvic floor exercises can also assist in the labour process, as well as recovery after.
Exercise will also help posture. The increase in weight and changes to her centre of gravity can result in changes to postures, particularly in the lower spine. Exercises that stretch tight areas and strengthen the weak areas can assist in correcting these deviations, which may otherwise lead to discomfort, pain or even injury.
Stress and Anxiety
Let’s face it, pregnancy can also be a stressful time for some women. The stress-relieving aspects of exercise due to hormone release can benefit greatly. In addition to this, the social aspect of attending exercise classes with other pregnant women encourages a sharing of experience and understanding of the challenges of pregnancy.
Finally, exercise can help to improve sleep quality. The discomfort of pregnancy can interrupt sleep significantly. Exercising through the day can make sleeping easier at night.
Given all these benefits, not only is exercise safe during pregnancy but is also recommended for so many reasons. Having said that, there are things to keep in mind and chatting about exercise with a health care provider is always encouraged and advised.
Recommended exercises include;
- brisk walking
- stationary bike
- pelvic tilts
There are sports and activities a woman should avoid during pregnancy.
- where there’s a risk of collision, tripping or falling, or heavy body contact;
- competitive sports where you have to reach, stretch or leap beyond safe limits;
- activities in an unsafe environment, such as high temperatures (spas or hydrotherapy pools or ‘hot’ yoga) or involve heavy equipment (weightlifting, water and snow skiing, scuba diving);
- repetitive high impact exercise, or with lots of twists and turns, high stepping or sudden stops that cause joint discomfort.
It’s best to always be upfront with any fitness professionals so they can tailor workouts specifically for pregnancy and for your specific needs. You can also join any pregnancy specific classes that may already be set up.
The key to exercising safely is to always ‘listen to your body’. A woman should be alert for signs that she may need to stop, such as; vaginal bleeding; nausea/vomiting; feeling faint or light-headed; strong pain, especially from your pelvis or back and any reduced movement of your baby.
There are a few medical conditions where exercise should really be avoided, especially without chatting to a health care provider first. These include; if a woman’s waters have broken; uncontrolled high blood pressure; pulmonary or venous thrombus; placenta praevia (a low lying placenta) in late pregnancy; intra-uterine growth restriction; incompetent cervix; uterine bleeding or pre-eclampsia.
These conditions are rare, and a woman will know if she’s suffering from any of them.
Most women will be healthy enough to get active, so get out there and move these beautiful bodies (and I literally mean bodies ‘plural’, after all there are two of you now).
Cat Law is a Midwife, who has a passion for women’s health and a genuine love for her job.
As a health blogger, she has been able to share a unique her perspective on everything health and fitness. She’s a strong believer in the fact that you learn something new everyday. Through her blog, she aims to share knowledge obtained, so that everyone can make informed decisions about healthy living.