Keeping active during pregnancy is recommended to help adapt to the body’s changing shape, weight gain and it may also help reduce problems in late pregnancy and labour.
Exercise isn’t dangerous for the growing baby, but the type of exercise chosen shouldn’t be too strenuous. Just a half an hour walk a day can be all that’s needed.
Regular exercise during pregnancy can improve your posture and alleviate some common discomforts such as backache and fatigue. And help to increase your stamina needed for labour and delivery.
Always let your midwife know before starting any new exercise routine.
Who should not exercise during pregnancy?
If you have a medical problem, such as asthma, heart disease, or diabetes, exercise may not be advisable. Exercise may also be harmful if you have a pregnancy related condition such as:
- Bleeding or spotting
- Low placenta
- Threatened or recurrent miscarriage
- Previous premature births or history of early labour
- Weak cervix
What exercises are safe during pregnancy?
Most exercises are safe to perform during pregnancy, as long as you exercise with caution and do not overdo it.
The safest and most productive activities are swimming, brisk walking, using an indoor exercise bike, step or elliptical machines and low-impact aerobics (taught by a qualified aerobics instructor). These activities carry little risk of injury, benefit your entire body, and can be continued until birth.
What exercises should be avoided during pregnancy?
There are certain exercises and activities that can be harmful if performed during pregnancy. They include:
- Holding your breath during any activity.
- Activities where falling is likely (such as skiing and horse riding).
- Contact sports such as football and basketball.
- Any exercise that may cause even mild abdominal trauma such as activities that include jarring motions or rapid changes in direction.
- Activities that require extensive jumping, hopping, skipping, bouncing or running.
- Deep knee bends, full sit-ups, double leg raises, and straight-leg toe touches.
- Bouncing while stretching.
- Waist-twisting movements while standing.
- Heavy exercise spurts followed by long periods of no activity.
- Exercise in hot, humid weather.
- Exercises after 16 weeks of pregnancy that involve lying on your back.
- Scuba diving.
What should a pregnancy exercise programme consist of?
For total fitness, a pregnancy exercise programme should strengthen and condition your muscles.
Always begin by warming up. Include at least 15 minutes of cardiovascular activity. Measure your heart rate at times of peak activity. Follow aerobic activity with five to ten minutes of gradually slower exercise that ends with gentle stretching.
Here are some basic exercise guidelines for pregnant women:
- Wear loose fitting, comfortable clothes as well as a good support bra.
- Choose shoes that are designed for the type of exercise you do. Proper shoes are your best protection against injury.
- Exercise on a flat, level surface to prevent injury.
- Finish eating at least one hour before exercising.
- Drink water before, during, and after your workout.
- After doing floor exercises, get up slowly and gradually to prevent dizziness.
- Never exercise to the point of exhaustion. If you cannot talk normally while exercising, you are probably over-exerting yourself and should slow down your activity.
- What pregnancy changes may affect exercise?
Physical changes during pregnancy create extra demands on your body. Remember that you need to listen to your body and adjust your activities or exercise routine as necessary.
Always exercise within your tolerance levels, exercise is meant to be enjoyable as well as beneficial to your health. If you feel unwell please stop and talk to your midwife.
How soon can I exercise after delivery?
It is best to ask your GP or midwife how soon you can begin your exercise routine after you have had your baby.
Although you may be eager to get in shape quickly, return to your pre-pregnancy fitness routines gradually. Follow your GP or midwife’s exercise recommendations.
Most women can safely perform a low-impact activity one to two weeks after a vaginal birth (or three to four weeks after a caesarean birth). Do about half of your normal floor exercises and don’t try to overdo it.
Where can I go?
We have put together a helpful list with some local exercise classes designed especially for you during pregnancy.
With classes being held in Aberdeen and Kintore. Judy Cameron has been teaching Pre and Postnatal yoga at YogaBirth since 1996. Her classes offer specialist yoga for pregnancy combined with a wealth of skills and knowledge about pregnancy, birth and parenthood.
Her classes include:
- Yoga Relaxation
- Breathing awareness & sound
- Pelvic floor educationInformation about pregnancy and birth
- Preparation for labour & birth through yoga
- Refreshments and discussion
For more information visit her website at http://www.yogaofbirth.co.uk/yoga/YogaBirth_Classes.html
Bela Fleur Spencer
To enrol or enquire please contact Bela on 07917443645
The Pilates Hut
With classed being held at Inchmarlo Golf Resort, Banchory on Fridays. These classes are designed to help gently strengthen the body for pre and post birth in a small group setting.
If you are pregnant and would like a place in the class please contact Fiona on 07713592999 or visit their website at http://www.thepilateshut.co.uk/