Exercise in Pregnancy

I often get asked what exercises can I do whilst I’m pregnant? This question really excites me as it generally means that the person asking is informed and motivated-no convincing is required! But for those that require convincing read on:

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 pre-clampsia, gestational diabetes and C-section

-      reduce constipation

-      and 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 years resolution fitness goals! 

BEFORE you start, please discuss with your gynaecologist/obstetrician your desire to be or 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 screen for potential aches and pains. 

To note there are certain instances where exercise during pregnancy should be avoided and these can be found here.

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The Fundamentals

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.

Precautions

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.

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

Type of exercise

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 its gives you an opportunity to build a tribe. But be mindful that group does not equal individualised. 

Make sure the activity is pelvic floor and tummy separation friendly- no breath holding, straining or bearing down (breath out on exertion). If you do happen to find yourself leaking during exercise or even when you jump, cough or sneeze-talk to me ASAP. Whilst it may be common it is NOT normal (read: help is available).

Parting note

Listen to your body and get yourself checked out before changing your exercise status during pregnancy.

If you have any questions or would like to book an appointment to see our Physiotherapist specialising in Women’s Health, email info@ifcpt.com or call 8721 9972.

References: 

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

https://www.acog.org