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Exercise and pregnancy – is it good for me?

26 June 2018

So, you’re pregnant. Congratulations! No doubt you’re beginning to feel all of the emotions. You want to eat all the food. You keep rushing to the loo with the ever-so-graceful morning sickness. And to top it all off, you’re still searching for that glow everyone raves about.

There is no denying that carrying a baby takes a toll on your body. And, while your body is experiencing these changes, exercise might be the last thing on your mind. But, believe it or not, keeping fit can be really healthy for you and your new bub. Our GP, James Bvirakare, tells us why:

Movement helps your state of mind

Exercise and pregnancy – is it good for me?

Yep, pregnancy can take it out of you – both physically and emotionally. But regular exercise (30 minutes of low impact and moderate intensity activity like walking, cycling or yoga each day) can actually boost your energy levels AND your endorphins (cue happy feelings)! Not only will exercise help you sleep better at night, but it will keep your heart rate in a fit state and your blood pressure healthy, meaning you’ll have more energy to go about your everyday life. Even unpacking the groceries will be easier.

You will feel less tired, experience fewer aches and pains

Whether you practise your pelvic floor exercises, stretch out your limbs, or go for a brisk walk or swim, you’ll be doing yourself the world of favours. Regular physical activity will strengthen your muscles and, in turn, help your body cope with pregnancy’s aches and pains. Strong abdominal muscles can better support the spine and strong pelvic floor muscles can improve bladder and bowel function. Regular exercise is also known to improve your chances of a restful night’s sleep – the potential benefits just keep on coming.

Exercise reduces your risk of complications

Exercise and pregnancy – is it good for me?

Regular exercise during pregnancy can reduce your risk of developing serious conditions like pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes. It can also control weight gain, blood sugar levels and blood pressure. It is important to stay well-hydrated and to modify your exercise program so you’re not putting your body under pressure. Even though there are plenty of exercises you can do to help you prepare for childbirth, there are also plenty of exercises you should avoid. Talk to your doctor or check out Better Health Channel for advice.

Maintaining fitness can prepare you for childbirth and recovery

Not only will you sleep better and be less likely to experience anxiety or depression, but being physically and mentally fit can help you manage the demands of caring for a newborn. Plus, your body is bound to bounce back quicker after you give birth, if you’ve been maintaining a regular exercise routine. It pays to speak to your healthcare professional when you are thinking about returning to exercise again, once your bubba arrives.

Some things to remember

It’s essential to talk to your doctor or physiotherapist before you start exercising when pregnant just to make sure the potential benefits outweigh any risks for you.

If you’ve been cleared to exercise, ask your healthcare professional to guide you through the levels and forms of physical activity that are safe for you.

Try to avoid high-impact activity, heavy sweating and exercising to the point of exhaustion. You want to exercise to boost your energy levels, not to deplete them.

If you’re uncomfortable or in pain, stop exercising and talk to your healthcare professional before starting again. If you’re unwell, don’t exercise. And if you’re not feeling up to it, have a rest!

It goes without saying – listen to your body.

Give these a go

Exercise and pregnancy – is it good for me?

Once you’ve been given the all-clear to exercise while pregnant, low impact, moderate-intensity exercises are the way to go. You may need to modify your physical activity if you were active before you were pregnant. If you were inactive before becoming pregnant, it’s best to start small and take baby steps (pardon the pun) until you build up to a moderate intensity.

  • Walking
  • Yoga or Pilates
  • Aquarobics (exercising in water)
  • Swimming
  • Cycling
  • Jogging
  • Pelvic floor exercises
  • Exercise classes for pregnant women
  • Stretching