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Bumping Up the Fitness Game: Is It Safe to Exercise during Pregnancy?

We often get asked, “Can I exercise while I’m pregnant?”

The simple answer: Of course, you can!

That being said, here are a few things to remember when doing so.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF EXERCISE DURING PREGNANCY?

There is a lot of research on the benefits and safety of exercise for women with normal, uncomplicated pregnancies. Exercise has the potential to:

  • Reduce musculoskeletal aches and pains
  • Improve mood, or alleviate symptoms of depression
  • Lower the risk of preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and c-section
  • Mitigate constipation
  • Improve bone mineral density of both mum and baby
  • Potentially contribute to shorter and uncomplicated labours

 

WHERE CAN I SIGN UP?!

It’s good to be excited to be active while pregnant, but let me start by emphasising that pregnancy is a demanding phase for your body and may not be the ideal time to embark on your New Year’s fitness resolutions!

Before you start, make sure to consult your gynaecologist/obstetrician regarding your intention to stay active during pregnancy. Additionally, seek guidance from a women’s health physiotherapist who can assess your pelvic floor and tummy separation status while also screening for potential aches and pains.

WHAT ARE THE CONTRA-INDICATIONS TO EXERCISING DURING PREGNANCY?

It’s crucial to note that exercise during pregnancy should be avoided in the following situations:

  • Certain types of heart and lung conditions
  • Cervical insufficiency or cerclage
  • Being pregnant with twins, triplets, or more, with preterm labour
  • Placenta previa after 26 weeks of pregnancy
  • Preterm labour or ruptured membranes (your water has broken) during this pregnancy
  • Pre-eclampsia or pregnancy-induced high blood pressure
  • Severe anaemia

WHAT TYPE OF EXERCISE IS APPROPRIATE DURING PREGNANCY?

Hey, we offer pre and postnatal exercises! Again, now is not the ideal time to venture into activities such as scuba diving, horseback riding, hot yoga, or any contact sports. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all exercise, but rather, the best exercise is something you enjoy and can consistently engage in.

A combination of strength and aerobic exercise is a good starting point. As your pregnancy progresses, pilates and yoga are great options. Group exercise classes are often recommended as they offer a chance to build a supportive community. However, be mindful that group sessions do not replace individualised attention.

As for exercise intensity, use the ‘talk test’- you should be able to talk but not sing during exercise.

For duration and frequency aim for 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week. If you’re new to exercise or dealing with overweight or obesity, start with smaller durations, gradually increasing from 10 to 20 to 30 minutes on alternate days.

If you’re interested in joining, explore more details about our pre and postnatal exercise classes here. Kindly note: attendance requires being a patient of the clinic.

WHAT ARE THE PRECAUTIONS FOR EXERCISING DURING PREGNANCY?

Living in the tropics means we need to keep an extra eye on our hydration levels and ensure that we don’t overheat. Try exercising during the cooler parts of the day and wear breathable clothing. After 28 weeks, refrain from lying on your back for extended periods, and ensure adequate support for your chest. Finding a great bra can be a challenge—(If you find one, let me know!) We know that some women prefer wearing a supportive singlet over their bra for added comfort.

It’s essential to remember that as your pregnancy progresses, your balance, tolerance for extended exercise, and certain postures may be affected due to changes in your centre of gravity.

WHEN SHOULD I STOP EXERCISING?

If you experience the following symptoms during exercise, please stop and speak to your gynaecologist/obstetrician.

  • Chest pain
  • Unexplained shortness of breath
  • Dizziness, feeling faint or headache
  • Muscle weakness
  • Calf pain, swelling, or redness
  • Sudden swelling of the ankles, hands or face
  • Vaginal bleeding or amniotic fluid loss
  • Decreased fetal movement
  • Uterine contractions or pain in the lower back, pelvic area or abdomen

WHEN SHOULD I SEE MY WOMEN’S HEALTH PHYSIOTHERAPIST?

The second trimester is a good time to see your women’s health physiotherapist. During this visit, you can receive recommendations on the right exercise for you, based on assessments like a pelvic floor examination or real-time ultrasound, to evaluate pelvic floor support, posture, breathing, musculoskeletal health, and diastasis.

During exercise, however, see your women’s health physiotherapist for management if you notice that the exercises you perform cause:

  • Doming or tenting of the abdomen
  • Breath-holding
  • Pelvic pressure or heaviness
  • Leaking
  • Pain

These may be common, but it does not have to be normal. Listen to your body and get yourself checked before changing your exercise status while pregnant or if you notice any of the above symptoms.

To identify the suitable type of exercise for your pregnancy, please call or WhatsApp us at 9780 7274, or email us at help@embracephysio.sg to make an appointment.

Feel free to look through our website, where you can learn about other women’s health conditions we treat. This is a safe space where we can discuss how we can help you with physiotherapy.

Note: While I am a physiotherapist, I am not your personal physiotherapist. The contents of this website are for informational purposes only and are not intended to serve as personal medical advice.

References:

  1. Mottola MF, Davenport MH, Ruchat S, et al 2019 Canadian guideline for physical activity throughout pregnancy Br J Sports Med 2018;52:1339-1346.
  2. https://www.ranzcog.edu.au/RANZCOG_SITE/media/RANZCOG-MEDIA/Women%27s%20Health/Statement%20and%20guidelines/Clinical-Obstetrics/Exercise-during-pregnancy-(C-Obs-62)-New-July-2016.pdf?ext=.pdf
  3. https://www.acog.org
  4. https://www.embracephysio.sg/what-you-need-to-know-about-diastasis-recti-in-women/
  5. https://www.embracephysio.sg/is-it-safe-to-exercise-during-pregnancy/#content
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Embrace Physiotherapy is committed to 5 star client satisfaction.

I highly recommend Embrace. Unlike most, my journey with them was a little different. It was treatment for my pelvic floor recovery post L5S1 fusion with cauda equina. My therapist Brenda was fantastic. Not only was she very professional, but she made me very comfortable from the very 1st minute. Always encouraging, I felt assured and confident with her during my recovery period. Today i got discharged after a 4 month treatment and i cant thank Brenda more. Thank you for walking this journey with me.

Haryati Richli Avatar Haryati Richli
January 24, 2022

It is so amazing to have this wonderful clinic in the East! (no need to go traipsing into the hospital areas/zones to access amazing care). I started seeing Preet at Embrace during the second trimester of my pregnancy. She's a really gifted physio - the kind who provides great treatment as well as in-depth information, underscored by excellent communication skills. She really helped to relieve the pain I was experiencing. I have since received post-natal care at Embrace and have also started going to their weekly pilates classes, which are targeted for women. It makes all the difference to have a pilates teacher who's already aware of all your physio requirements! 5 stars!

Kirrilee Hughes Avatar Kirrilee Hughes
November 8, 2021

I had a fantastic experience visiting Preet’s clinic 6 weeks after I delivered my baby. The physio Alex was detailed, caring and thorough in her assessment of my pelvic floor, back and abdominal muscles. The clinic is a beautiful, calming place and perfect for new mums to get taken care of. Thank you and I would definitely recommend visiting Embrace not just for post-partum issues, but any issues to do with your physical well being particularly for women’s health. Keep up the good work Preet, Alex and the Embrace team!!

Ashima Taneja Avatar Ashima Taneja
February 3, 2022

Embrace life. Embrace Physiotherapy.

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