My current series of blogs are all about exercise before conception, during pregnancy, after birth and beyond. Today we are going to look at the advantages of keeping fit during your 9 months.

Every pregnancy is different and individual. Every Mum-to-be will have her own goals in mind when it comes to keeping fit. This blog will provide you with knowledge about the advantages and disadvantages (yes there are a few) of exercising throughout pregnancy.

Advantages of Exercising Throughout Pregnancy:

  • Possible reduction in back pain
  • Improved core strength to support your spine and help you carry your baby around
  • The correct type of exercise can prevent muscles from becoming over-tight and weak
  • Improved posture
  • Reduced likelihood of experiencing symptoms associated with pregnancy, such as leg cramps, swelling, constipation and varicose veins
  • Improved circulation and blood flow
  • Improved calcium absorption, preventing future osteoporosis
  • Time-out for mother, has a pampering effect and allows the mother to relate to the baby as she exercises
  • Improved relaxation and possible improved sleep patterns
  • Enhanced mental well-being, improved self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Confidence in one’s own ability to cope with labour
  • Reduced chance of developing gestational diabetes
  • Lower chance of high blood pressure
  • Exercising helps curb excessive weight gain
  • Regular weight-based exercising (if appropriate) has positive effects on labour and delivery

Other:

  • Weight gain in pregnancy is normal and necessary. What the mother needs to avoid during pregnancy is excessive weight gain. Read more about this here
  • Normal moderate exercise promotes the growth of the placenta, making it more efficient in its ability to transport blood, nutrients and oxygen to the baby
  • Regular weight-based exercising (if appropriate) has positive effects on labour and delivery
  • Exercising for at least 3 times a week (minimum of 20 minutes) may lead to a significantly shorter labour than non-exercising women
  • Quicker recovery time after the birth

Exercise to avoid during pregnancy:

  • Deep-sea diving
  • White-water rafting
  • Diving
  • Contact sports
  • Horseback riding (due to risk of falling or being thrown)
  • Skiing
  • Water skiing
  • Jet skiing
  • Skydiving
  • Exercising at altitude
  • Gymnastics
  • Surfing
  • Ice skating
  • Volleyball
  • Basketball
  • Squash
  • Tennis

Disadvantages of exercising in pregnancy:

(the list here is a lot shorter!)

  • Over-exertion may contribute to general tiredness
  • Possible increase in blood pressure
  • If exercise is too intense, or performed over excessive periods pf time, there is a possibility of reduction in blood flow to the foetus (e.g. over 80% of the maximum heart rate or for more than 90 minutes)
  • Possible increased chance of dips in blood sugar levels leading to hypoglycaemia
  • Possibility of injury due to lax joints
  • Inappropriate exercises causing possible stress on the pelvic floor

Can exercise be bad for the baby?  

The simple answer is no, if Mum is known as a low-risk pregnancy. As long as Mum exercises safely, sensibly and at a level that is appropriate for her stage of pregnancy e.g. first, second or third trimester.

However, and I cannot stress this enough, every Mum should get medical clearance to exercise once she knows she is expecting, even if she already works out regularly.

Also those amongst you that are new to exercise, now is not the time to take up running or to start mountain climbing or trying a new group class like Body Pump (I taught my BP classes right up until a week before the birth of my second but that’s because my body was used to this type of exercise).  Instead, like I did with my first, look for specific prenatal classes or someone like me (qualified and specialised) to start you off on a beginner’s programme, suitable for a Mum who is pregnant.

Note of caution here: should you feel dizzy, nauseous or experience pain when exercising, immediately cease and consult your Doctor. It is always better to be safe than sorry when pregnant. Otherwise, have fun whilst improving your health and wellbeing, because exercising is a big step in the right direction for you and baby.

Happy Body, Happy Mind, Happy Mum-to-be & Baby!