Exercise during pregnancy is not only advised, it is recommended. There are a huge number of benefits to remaining fit and in your best health while pregnant, both for the mother and baby. Not only will you physically feel more able to continue with your normal everyday tasks while pregnant, but remaining active will help you to progress better through labour and to recover postpartum more quickly too. And exercise isn’t just great for your body, but for your mind! Mentally you will feel a lot better if you’re able to keep your body moving throughout your pregnancy.

Here are just a few of the benefits of exercising during pregnancy:

  • Lowered risk of gestational diabetes.
  • Strengthened heart and blood vessels.
  • Reduced back pain.
  • Reduced risk of preeclampsia.
  • Less chance of requiring an emergency C section.

Are there any reasons why exercise is not safe while pregnant?

In general, most pregnant women will benefit from some form of exercise, whether that’s simply going for a daily walk or gentle stretches. However there are a few conditions where medical professionals will recommend that you minimise exercise or even halt it completely. This includes some heart and lung disease, severe anaemia, placenta previa after 26 weeks of pregnancy, preeclampsia, or anything that puts you at a heightened risk of preterm labour. If this is the case, you must speak to your own doctor before attempting any exercise.

What types of exercise are best while pregnant?

  • Gentle cardio: Cardiovascular exercises help boost your stamina and maintain a healthy heart during pregnancy. Opt for low-impact activities like brisk walking, swimming, or prenatal yoga. These activities are gentle on your joints while keeping you feeling energised, and can help you to maintain your fitness.
  • Strength training: Strengthening your muscles is vital during pregnancy, as it supports your changing body and helps to alleviate any back pain. Put down the heavy weights and opt for resistance bands or bodyweight exercises. Squats, pelvic tilts, and modified push-ups are great choices to build strength safely.
  • Dance: Who says exercise can’t be fun? Put on some of your favourite tunes and groove your way through pregnancy. There are plenty of classes and groups you can join if you’re not confident in your own living room where an instructor can advise you on what’s best during pregnancy. Dancing not only uplifts your spirits, helping to beat those baby blues, but also improves flexibility and coordination.
  • Pregnancy yoga: Yoga and pilates are excellent choices for mums-to-be, as they focus on flexibility, balance, and breathing. Prenatal classes are designed specifically for pregnant women, so will avoid poses that could be uncomfortable for you or that could be unsafe, such as those where you lie flat on your back – this could cause a loss of blood pressure due to pressure on the main blood vessel that returns blood to your heart. Yoga can also help you connect with your body and your growing baby.
  • Pelvic floor exercises: Strengthening your pelvic floor muscles can give you an upper hand during the birth as well as postpartum recovery. Practice Kegel exercises daily to keep these muscles toned and prepared.

Exercise Tips for Pregnancy

Pregnancy brings about numerous changes in your body, and no two pregnancies are exactly alike. Always prioritise your comfort and safety while exercising, so make sure you listen to your body and recognise where your limits are. Pushing yourself too hard is not just a risk for you, but for your baby. 

It’s always important to stay well hydrated while exercising, but even more so when you’re pregnant. Carry a water bottle with you and take sips frequently. 

Good nutrition is extra important while pregnant too to give your body the additional fuel it needs to grow a whole new person and support you too. To keep energy levels up, snack on wholesome foods before and after workouts if needed, and make sure to have regular filling and nutritious meals.

It’s very important to ensure that any instructors or personal trainers that you work with know about your condition, even if this means letting them know discreetly before anyone else knows. They will be able to ensure that any workouts are modified to suit your changing body and keep you and your little one safe.

As always, with anything in pregnancy, speak with your healthcare provider or midwife before starting any exercise routine and remember to be mindful of any new sensations or discomfort during your workouts.