Exercise during pregnancy: do’s and don’ts

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It's important to exercise and keep active during pregnancy, but what are the fitness do’s and don’ts during this time?

In our final post for pregnancy month, here's a guest post from Hannah, fitness trainer at MotivatePT, on tips for exercising safely and healthily when you're expecting:

The research has been gathered and the results are clear: exercising during pregnancy offers heaps of benefits to both you and your baby. While you are giving up other vices such as alcohol, smoking and soft cheeses, it can be a great time for a lifestyle change and to embrace the effects of moderate exercise.

The obvious reasons for regular exercise when you're expecting are that it will help you to counteract the less glamorous side effects of pregnancy, which include back pain, swollen ankles and varicose veins. Staying active equips you with far more energy than just lying on the sofa, which is crucial for all mums-to-be. It will also prepare you for labour, helping you to build up the stamina to have an easier delivery.

There are other perks too. By controlling your weight during your pregnancy you should be able to regain your pre-pregnancy fitness in no time! And it’s not just about the physical effects; the mental effects are just as important. Exercise is a great way to lift your spirits and fight any baby blues.

With all of this said, it’s important to know your limits during your pregnancy, which is why we have complied an easy list of do’s and don’ts. Follow these to make sure you are exercising safely, and always speak to your nurse or GP if in doubt.

Pregnancy Exercise - Do:

  • Do carry out at least a minimum of 2.5 hours of physical activity a week, and build on this gradually. This is the amount recommended by the NHS and this will vary depending on how active you were before your pregnancy. This can be any form of exercise, from running to yoga to simply going for long walks.
  • Do try and work out with an accredited fitness professional during this period, especially if you are unsure what you should be doing. This is a very important time in your life, so invest time in your health and fitness. A pre-natal personal trainer can help you to build up your routine gradually and provide you with an education about how to exercise safely. Alternatively, try and find a local pre-natal exercise group, where you can meet other mums and share tips and tricks.
  • Do exercises that will strengthen your pelvic floor. This will help prevent any incontinence issues after the birth.

Pregnancy Exercise - Don’t

  • Don’t exercise to the point where you can no longer speak coherently. You should always be able to form full sentences, and if you cant, then this may be a sign that you are over-doing it!
  • Don’t lie on your front after your first trimester and avoid any exercises which require you to lie on your back after 12 weeks
  • Don’t overindulge during your pregnancy. It is not true that you are eating for two and this isn’t an excuse to go overboard, as tempting as it may seem! The average weight gain when you are pregnant is between 10-12 kg so try and keep within these parameters; it'll help you more post-natally.

If you're pregnant, what's your favourite type of exercise? Make sure you also read our posts on pregnancy nutrition and hypnobirthing.

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