Go Go Physio has been helping the lovely new, and soon to be new, mums of the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney over the last 12 months and one of the most common questions I get asked is:
What exercise can I still do while I'm pregnant and what do you recommend?
So here goes. Don’t exhaust yourself. You may need to slow down as your pregnancy progresses or if your women's health physio advises you to. As a general rule, you should be able to hold a conversation as you exercise when pregnant. If you become breathless as you talk, then you're probably exercising too strenuously.
If you weren't active before you got pregnant, don’t suddenly take up strenuous exercise. If you start an aerobic exercise programme (such as swimming, cycling, walking or aerobics classes), tell the instructor that you're pregnant and begin with no more than 15 minutes of continuous exercise, three times a week. Increase this gradually to at least four 30-minute sessions a week. Remember that exercise doesn't have to be strenuous to be beneficial.
Exercise tips when you're pregnant:
- always warm up before exercising, and cool down afterwards
- try to keep active on a daily basis: half an hour of walking each day can be enough, but if you can't manage that, any amount is better than nothing
- avoid any strenuous exercise in hot weather
- drink plenty of water and other fluids
- in my experience it is better to use a health professional with experience in pre and post natal care. Experts such as Sarah from Goldie Wellbeing are worth their weight in gold. Her latest blog on the recommended weight gain during pregnancy is also a great read.
- you might like to try swimming because the water will support your increased weight. The Des Renford aquatic centre in Maroubra is quite warm and has a crèche for children aged 8 weeks – 5 years.
- exercises that have a risk of falling, such as horse riding, downhill skiing, ice hockey, gymnastics and cycling, should only be done with caution. Falls may risk damage to the baby.
Exercises to avoid in pregnancy:
- don't lie flat on your back, particularly after 16 weeks, because the weight of your bump presses on the main blood vessel bringing blood back to your heart and this can make you feel faint
- don't take part in contact sports where there's a risk of being hit, such as kickboxing, judo or squash
- Exercises with sharp and complex rotational movements (most boot camps and strenuous pump classes!) are best avoided. During pregnancy ligaments and tendons are becoming more lax and these movements pose increased risks.
- don't go scuba diving, because the baby has no protection against decompression sickness and gas embolism (gas bubbles in the bloodstream)
- don't exercise at heights over 2,500m above sea level until you have acclimatised: this is because you and your baby are at risk of altitude sickness
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) have a great list of when women should NOT exercise or should STOP exercising. Another commonly asked question is can I still run? I will write a blog solely on this subject soon as it warrants more in-depth attention.
Well I hope this advice has helped and remember that exercise is safe during pregnancy under the care of a qualified health professional like a physiotherapist, midwife or doctor. Please check out our standing Pregnancy Pilates video below for a safe Pilates workout during any stage of pregnancy: