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Pregnancy and Exercise

Pregnancy and Exercise

Staying active and having regular exercise in pregnancy offers a lot of benefits. Regular exercise will help you keep fit and help avoid pregnancy complications like preeclampsia and diabetes. Exercise will also help you keep your weight gain under control and can shorten labour.

There are many benefits associated with staying active and having regular exercise in pregnancy. These include:

  • Increased body awareness, endurance, and sense of wellbeing
  • Improved posture, muscle tone and body image
  • A reduction in fatigue and the physical discomforts associated with pregnancy
  • Lower incidence of gestational diabetes
  • Shortened active phase of labour
  • Reduced likelihood of a forceps or caesarean birth
  • Faster physical recovery after the birth of your baby

The level of exercise you can do depends on your fitness level prior to pregnancy. So, if you ran frequently before you found out you were pregnant, and you don’t have any pregnancy complications, there’s no reason why you should stop as long as you do some sensible modifications to your training program. Make sure you talk to your midwife or doctor about exercise and pregnancy. Not all exercises are suitable for pregnant women – so seek professional advice early.

General Guidelines:

  • Stop exercising and consult a midwife or doctor if bleeding, cramping, faintness, dizziness or severe joint pain occur
  • Avoid lying flat on your back after sixteen weeks – this can cause the uterus to compress a major blood vessel, restricting blood flow back to your heart, and subsequently to your baby
  • Exercise sensibly, at a comfortable intensity, and do not exercise to exhaustion or at an anaerobic (or breathless) pace
  • Avoid overheating, particularly in the first trimester when the baby is most vulnerable to high temperatures
  • Wear light comfortable clothing, drink plenty of water, avoid exercising in very hot temperatures and do not exercise during illness or fever
  • Avoid any sport where there is a risk of an abdominal blow, such as downhill skiing, horse riding and contact sports
  • Remember to breathe evenly and avoid holding your breath during exercise (which can sometimes happen when you are concentrating on that yoga pose!)
  • Combine an appropriate warm up and cool down session into every exercise session
  • Do not exercise if any of the following are present: pregnancy induced hypertension, ruptured membranes, incompetent cervix, vaginal bleeding, intrauterine growth retardation or a multiple pregnancy
 Yvette Barton has a Bachelor of Education and currently works as both an eLearning Adviser for Swinburne Online Learning, and as a freelance writer and editor. Yvette is a fierce advocate for homebirth, women’s rights to choose where they labour and birth, and midwives’ rights to attend birthing women without governmental constraints. Yvette is also an advocate for natural and adoptive breastfeeding, co-sleeping, baby wearing, conscious parenting, and child advocacy. Yvette lives in Sydney with her two daughters.

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