Exercise in Pregnancy

Exercise in Pregnancy

It is important to keep up your normal daily physical activity or exercise (sport, running, yoga, dancing, or even walking to the shops and back) for as long as you feel comfortable.

It is recommended to be active for at least 150 minutes per week, or 30 minutes of activity 5 times a week. If you cannot manage that, any amount is better than nothing.

Exercise is not dangerous for your baby. There is some evidence that active women are less likely to experience problems in later pregnancy and labour.

If you were not active before you got pregnant, do not suddenly take up strenuous exercise. Start with low impact exercise such as walking, swimming, pregnancy Yoga or pregnancy Pilates. Start with 15 minutes of continuous exercise x3 times per week, increasing gradually to daily 30 minute sessions.

Other Tips:

  • always warm up before exercising, and cool down afterwards
  • avoid strenuous exercise in hot weather
  • drink plenty of water and other fluids
  • if you go to exercise classes, make sure your instructor knows you’re pregnant, as well as how many weeks pregnant you are
  • After 16 weeks, avoid lying flat on your back during exercise
  • Exercises that have a risk of falling, such as horse riding, gymnastics and cycling, should only be done with caution.

When should I avoid exercise during pregnancy?

If you are unsure about anything in your medical history, discuss with your  midwife and/or hospital team before partaking in exercise during pregnancy.

Exercise after your baby is born

Start gradually, with a short walk lasting no more than 5 minutes initially. Gradually increase this, until you are exercising for 30 minutes, 5 times a week. Remember, anything is better than nothing.

Pelvic floor exercises can be commenced immediately after the birth of your baby, even if you have some stitches, to help with healing and recovery. Make sure your catheter (if you have one) is removed first.

From 6 weeks you can start gentle exercises to regain strength – body weighted exercises eg squats, lunges. Exercise to increase heart rate and cardiovascular fitness eg cycling, swimming can also start (as long as vaginal bleeding has stopped and all stitches have healed).

It is now recommended you do not start running postnatally until at least 3 to 6 months.

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