As a GP, pregnant women often ask me whether they can exercise in pregnancy. I not only tell them quickly that they can but go a step further and actively encourage it. After all, at the end of 9 months women have to go through labour and they will be entirely more prepared if they have exercised throughout pregnancy. Having said that, I also find it helpful to chat through what kind of exercise is a good idea and what is not and in this blog I hope to go into this for you.
- Ensure you warm up and down carefully and keep well hydrated. If you have not previously been exercising gradually build up your exercise; do not start with something too strenuous.
- Your body changes during pregnancy and is more vulnerable to injury so make sure you inform exercise class instructors that you are pregnant so that they can alter the exercises appropriately for you.
- Pelvic floor exercises: Strengthening your pelvic floor during pregnancy will help reduce your risk of incontinence (unintentionally leaking urine) after your baby is born. The pelvic floor is the sling of muscles found between your pubic bone (front of your body) and the end of your coccyx (tailbone, back of your body). These muscles are important to stop you leaking urine.
- These organisations provide some excellent pelvic floor exercise instructions:
- NHS: http://www.nhs.uk/chq/pages/1063.aspx
- Tommy’s, London: https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/im-pregnant/exercise-pregnancy/pelvic-floor-exercises
- Bladder and Bowel Foundation: https://www.nhs.uk/Planners/pregnancycareplanner/Documents/BandBF_pelvic_floor_women.pdf
- National Childbirth Trust: https://www.nct.org.uk/pregnancy/pelvic-floor-exercises-during-and-after-pregnancy
- Abdominal (stomach) muscle strengthening exercises: Strengthening your abdominal muscles will ensure your back takes less strain. This is really important as your bump grows; it will prevent you getting backache.
- What to expect provides some excellent abdominal muscle exercise instructions: http://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/abs-exercises
- Swimming: The water will support your growing bump and enable you to exercise more comfortably.
Exercise to avoid:
- Contact Sports e.g. kickboxing: It is best to avoid these because there is a risk of you being injured, which could cause harm to you and your baby.
- Scuba Diving: This should be avoided as the baby could be subject to decompression sickness.
Exercise with some warnings attached:
- Altitude: If you plan to exercise over 2500m, please ensure you take time to acclimatise in order to prevent altitude sickness.
- Yoga and Pilates: These are excellent in pregnancy but you need to make sure you do not lie on your back for prolonged periods of time especially over 16 weeks of pregnancy. This is because the baby puts weight on your vena cava (the blood vessel which takes blood back to the heart) and so it can make you feel faint.
- Sports where you are high risk of falling g. horse-riding, rock-climbing, downhill skiing or cycling: A fall could damage you or your baby so you may want to avoid these types of sport.
Finally it remains to be said that exercise is one of the few things that makes you feel good and is actually good for you. So go out and enjoy it!
Any questions or comments do get in touch @PregnaPouch or PregnaPouch@gmail.com.
The PregnaPouch team