Should I exercise when pregnant? Is it safe? Will exercise harm my Baby? Will exercise harm me?
These are some of the questions on a lot of pregnant ladies minds, but the simple answer is yes, it is perfectly safe. Providing your pregnancy is uncomplicated then it is extremely safe and very beneficial.
So what are the benefits? The benefits definitely out-weigh the risks, and some of the benefits to name a few, include;
- Reduced Lower Back and Pelvic Pain
- Improves your Posture
- Help Prevent Gestational Diabetes
- Improve Mood
- Improve Sleep Quality
- Shorter and more Comfortable Labour
- Increases your Energy Levels
As you can see the benefits are not only physical, but also emotional, and will help your well-being throughout your pregnancy.
However, although there are many benefits, there are some general guidelines to follow whilst exercising when pregnant, and I have listed my top guidelines below.
- Your goal should be to maintain fitness levels and health- Not improve your physical fitness. Pregnancy is not the time to be increasing your physical fitness. The main goal should be to maintain your current fitness levels, and maintain good health to you and your baby.
- Avoid exercising lying on your back during trimesters 2 & 3 (from week 13 of pregnancy). From 13 weeks, you should avoid exercising whilst lying on your back. This is because as your baby grows in size, lying on your back may cause your enlarged uterus to compress on a large and major blood vessel, called the vena cava, therefore restricting blood flow to your heart, which will affect the blood flow to your baby.
- Never over-stretch. At the onset of pregnancy, a hormone called relaxin begins to rise in your body, and is prevalent throughout pregnancy. The main effects of relaxin are to soften ligaments, cartilage and the cervix, allowing for these tissues to expand during delivery. So how does this relate to exercise? Well, relaxin will be prevalent throughout your body, meaning ligaments throughout your body will be more relaxed, therefore liable to unnecessary overstretching, which can lead to damage over time. Stretch by all means, you will feel you can stretch further, but keep stretches in a comfortable, normal range.
- Avoid high impact movements. This partly relates to increased relaxin levels again. As the ligaments become more relaxed, the effect on joints is that they become more unstable. This will mean joints are more susceptible to injuries due to their unstable nature during pregnancy. Your centre of gravity will also change throughout pregnancy, which will affect your posture and balance. High impact exercises, such as squat jumps, should be avoided the risks of falling are increased and/or trauma are increased. Keep exercises low impact and simple.
- If you’re unsure ask. It is natural to feel unsure about exercising when pregnant. Asking your midwife, your GP or a Level 3 Pre and Post-natal Specialist for advice is the perfect way to ease any worries regarding exercise and pregnancy.
As a pre and post-natal specialist I am always happy to help assist with any questions you may have.
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you may have. Optimum3 also offer a free no obligation consultation to discuss your goals. Head over to our free consultation page to find out more.
Eat Well. Move Well. Live Well.