Exercising While Pregnant

Exercising While Pregnant

Written by One Mama Midwife

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During pregnancy, your body is going through an enormous number of changes, both physical and emotional. Although this time is a period of immense joy and excitement, the physical and emotional changes of pregnancy can make this period challenging for many women. One of the most effective ways to manage the challenges of pregnancy is through regular exercise and maintaining good health throughout your pregnancy. Research has shown that regular exercise during pregnancy has enormous health benefits for the mother and the growing baby.

Benefits of exercise during pregnancy:

- Improving cardiovascular health can reduce the risk of developing gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia and gestational hypertension:

Regular exercise during pregnancy can help improve your cardiovascular health as well as helping to improve your insulin sensitivity. This means you may have a reduced risk of developing gestational diabetes. Improving your cardiovascular health can reduce the pressure put on the cardiovascular system from the changes during pregnancy, this thus can reduce your risk of developing gestational hypertension and preeclampsia.

- Can reduce morning sickness:

Exercise especially outside in the fresh air can help improve your morning sickness symptoms.

- Improves your mood:

Pregnancy can be a challenging time and something as simple as going outside for a walk or a swim can help improve your mood. This is because exercise releases endorphins, which can help reduce anxiety and stress during your pregnancy.

- Improves your energy levels:

Just as exercise can improve your mood, the release of endorphins can also improve your overall energy levels for the day.

- Improves your sleep quality:

Many pregnant women experience disruptions in their ability to fall asleep and stay asleep overnight. Regular exercise can help you fall asleep faster and sleep for a longer duration at night.

- Reduce the risk of excessive weight gain:

Regular exercise during pregnancy can help you maintain a healthy weight and reduce your risk of excessive weight gain during pregnancy. It is a normal part of pregnancy to gain weight to support your growing baby, however excessive weight gain can have complications for both you and the baby.

- Can help improve your labour and birth experience:

Labour is a marathon and not a sprint therefore, having good cardiovascular health throughout your pregnancy can help you to have the stamina required for labour and birth.

How much should I exercise during pregnancy?

It is important to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day to really reap the benefits during your pregnancy. The type of exercise will look different for everyone based on their own individual fitness level. When you are exercising during pregnancy, a good measure of how hard to push yourself is using the talk test. So, when you are exercising can you talk through that exercise? If the answer is no and you are completely breathless then it might be an indicator that you should slow down.

What type of exercise should I do during pregnancy?

Always consult your doctor prior to starting any exercise to take into consideration your own specific health risks and types of exercise. During pregnancy, generally speaking you can continue at the same fitness level that you were participating at prior to the pregnancy. If you were not regularly exercising prior to your pregnancy, you will want to start off slow with a gentle walk or swim every day and grade up as you feel necessary. If you exercised regularly prior to falling pregnant, you can continue at a similar level to what you were participating in with a few modifications.

Some great types of exercise in pregnancy include:

Pregnancy Yoga
Pregnancy Pilates
Walking or running

What precautions should I take during pregnancy?

You may like to avoid some high impact exercises that may be placing strain on your pelvic floor muscles, especially if you were not doing these exercises prior to pregnancy. You may like to avoid non-contact and contact sports due to any potential falls risks or injury to the baby. It is important to avoid overheating and to stay hydrated when exercising in pregnancy. Pregnant women are more likely to overheat and become dehydrated due to the increased blood volume and changes associated with the pregnancy. Overheating and becoming dehydrated can have negative impacts on both you and your growing baby.

To avoid overheating and dehydration while exercising:

- Try not to exercise in the heat of the day.
- Try to wear layers or loose fitting clothin.
- Always keep a water bottle with you with water or Motherhood Hydration Powder in it.
- Do not use a sauna or hot room for your exercise.

Most importantly, when you are exercising it is important to listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel right or is painful, it is important to stop immediately and contact your healthcare provider if you have any concerns. You may need to make modifications or slow down your type of exercise to suit your pregnancy and that is okay!

Exercise during pregnancy is essential in maximising your health and the health of your growing baby, always consult your healthcare professional before starting any exercise (especially any new exercises) and listen to your body. Enjoy that fresh air and the many physical and emotional benefits of moving your body regularly during your pregnancy.