I often get asked; can I exercise during pregnancy?
Do you want the simple answer? YES YOU CAN!
BUT (ok there is no simple answer)
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF EXERCISE DURING PREGNANCY?
There is an abundance of research reporting the benefits of exercise and its safety in women with normal uncomplicated pregnancies. Exercise has the potential to:
- reduce fatigue and insomnia
- reduce musculoskeletal aches and pains
- improve mood and reduced symptoms of depression
- reduce risk of preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and C-section
- reduce constipation
- improve bone mineral density of mum and baby
- It may also be related to shorter and uncomplicated labours.
Sign me up NOW, right!?
Let me start off by emphasising that pregnancy is a very busy period for your body and is probably not the best time to start on your new year’s fitness goals!
BEFORE you start, please discuss with your gynecologist/obstetrician your desire to remain active during your pregnancy. Also seek the guidance of a Physiotherapist specialising in Women’s Health that can assess your pelvic floor and tummy separation status whilst also screening for potential aches and pains.
WHAT ARE THE CONTRA-INDICATIONS TO EXERCISING DURING PREGNANCY?
Note that there are certain instances where exercise during pregnancy should be avoided and these are:
- Certain types of heart and lung diseases
- Cervical insufficiency or cerclage
- Being pregnant with twins or triplets (or more) with risk factors for preterm labor
- Placenta previa after 26 weeks of pregnancy
- Preterm labor or ruptured membranes (your water has broken) during this pregnancy regular physical activity
- Preeclampsia or pregnancy-induced high blood pressure
- Severe anemia
WHAT ARE THE PRECAUTIONS TO EXERCISING DURING PREGNANCY?
Living in the tropics means we need to keep an extra eye on our hydration levels and also ensure that we don’t overheat. Try exercising in the cooler parts of the day and wear breathable clothing. Avoid lying on your back for too long after 28 weeks and don’t forget to support your boobies! Let me know when you find a good bra- I’m still looking. I know some women like to wear a singlet with boobie support over their bra.
Don’t forget that as your pregnancy progresses your balance may be thrown off as your centre of gravity changes as well as your ability to tolerate extended exercise sessions and certain postures.
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
WHAT TYPE OF EXERCISE IS APPROPRIATE DURING PREGNANCY?
Now is not the right time to take up scuba diving, horseback riding, hot yoga or contact sports and nor is there a ‘best’ exercise.
The best exercise is to do something that you enjoy and can stick to.
A combination of strength and aerobic exercise is a good starting point. Pilates and yoga are great options too as the pregnancy progresses. I often recommend group exercise classes as it gives you an opportunity to build a tribe. But be mindful that group does not equal individualised sessions.
Intensity- The talk test- you should be able to talk but not sing whilst exercising.
Duration and frequency- 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week. If you are new to exercise or are overweight/obese start small i.e. 10 to 20 to 30 minutes on alternate days.
Did you know that we now offer pre and postnatal exercise classes?
If you are interested in attending these, learn more about our pre and postnatal exercise classes here. Please note: you need to be a client of the clinic to attend.
WHEN SHOULD I SEE MY WOMEN’S HEALTH PHYSIOTHERAPIST?
The second trimester is a good time to see your Women’s Health Physiotherapist as you may be assessed for level of pelvic floor support via pelvic floor exam or real time ultrasound, posture, breathing, musculoskeletal health and diastasis to inform recommendations on the right kind of exercise for you.
Please do see your Women’s Health Physiotherapist for assessment and management if you notice that the exercises you perform cause:
- doming/tenting of the abdomen
- pelvic pressure or heaviness
- leaking or
Whilst it may be common it is NOT normal (read: help is available).
Listen to your body and get yourself checked out before changing your exercise status during pregnancy or if you notice any of the above symptoms.
To determine the right type of exercise during pregnancy, call/WhatsApp on 9780 7274 or get in touch over email to book your appointment.
You can also visit our website to learn about other women’s conditions we treat through physiotherapy and how we can help you.
Mottola MF, Davenport MH, Ruchat S, et al 2019 Canadian guideline for physical activity throughout pregnancy Br J Sports Med 2018;52:1339-1346.