Along with the inevitable apprehension and excitement of expecting a baby, many mums-to-be have concerns about exercising during pregnancy - with some women even (wrongly) believing that it’s dangerous. But, providing it’s done safely, that you listen to your body and know its limitations, exercise can be incredibly beneficial for mums-to-be and baby.
Benefits of exercise during pregnancy
Exercise is essential for maintaining a healthy body and mind, boosting energy, relieving stress, easing aches and pains, and aiding sleep. Your body goes through many physical and hormonal changes during pregnancy; exercise can help get it back to its pre-baby shape and research even suggests that women who exercise during pregnancy tend to have shorter, easier labours. Other benefits include:
Regulating weight gain during pregnancy.
Helping lower the risk of pregnancy complications, such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.
Easing common discomforts of pregnancy, including constipation, back pain and swelling in legs, ankles and feet.
Reducing the risk of having a Caesarean birth (C-section).
Building the stamina, strength and endurance to needed for childbirth and life as a new mum.
Helping with emotional and mental health.
Which exercise is safe for me? If you’re new to fitness, start slowly with five to ten minutes of gently activity each day, and work your way up to 30 minutes each day. Taking a brisk walk is a great workout that doesn’t put too much strain on joints and muscles. Other exercises that are considered suitable for pregnant women include:
Swimming and water workouts are great for supporting the weight of your growing baby and is easy on your joints and muscles.
Riding a stationary bike is safer than riding a regular bicycle during pregnancy.
Specialist yoga and pilates classes for pregnant women can help prepare your body for labour and birth through breathing and meditation.
Low-impact aerobics classes.
Strength training is safe as long as weights are not too heavy and can help to build muscle and strengthen bones.
For most pregnant women, exercising is safe and healthy for you and your baby and if you already lead an active lifestyle, it’s usually safe to maintain your normal exercise routine for as long as you feel comfortable. Make sure to wear supportive footwear - and if your regular gym clothes no longer fit, look online for specialist pregnancy gym wear, as well as a good supportive bra and support belts for your back and bump, to keep you feeling safe and comfortable during exercise. Additionally, try using our SleepiMum pillow to give you the most supported and comfortable night's sleep, so your body can have the best rest possible.
If you’re unsure about anything, talk to your doctor or midwife, follow their guidance - and listen to your body (and don’t forget the pelvic floor exercises!)