Yes!! You can absolutely 100% exercise when you are pregnant.
The research on exercise when a lady is pregnant has shot through the roof recently; recent reports have said that exercising regularly can offer these benefits:
- Lower your chances of having complications like pre-eclampsia
- Reduce the time of your labour
- Reduce aches and pains e.g. in your lower back
- Reduce the effects of morning sickness
- Reduce or prevent depression
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Prepare your body for the demands of labour
- Get back into shape after the birth
So what can I do?
This is where some people’s view differ slightly – but as a general principle: any exercise which gets your heart pumping, keeps you supple and doesn’t push your body too hard is absolutely fine.
In my own pregnancy I ran until I was 8 months pregnant and also went to the gym and did a lot of toning exercises with weights. I stretched regularly and went for a walk every day; as I had such bad morning sickness, it was the only thing I could do on some days.
Yes you can run if you want to, yes you can lift weights if you want to, yes you can do yoga and Pilates if you want to, yes you can cycle if you want to BUT… listen to your body. Some days your body will just say “NO!!!” – and that’s absolutely fine, go for a walk instead if you really want to do something.
I found that during my pregnancy I really started to know my body, I realised what it thrived on (being active and eating well), but I also found out that I needed to listen to it too. I had a few scary moments when I went for a run and also went swimming once and I realised that my body was telling me something for a reason and I needed to act on what it was saying.
What shouldn’t I be doing?
The reports differ here as well, but I believe that the following points are consistent:
- After 16 weeks, you should not be lying on your back for an extended period of time
- A lot of abdominal work
- Exercise where you are over heating, especially in your first trimester
- Impact exercises which will put a lot of pressure on your pelvic floor
- High intensity work
- Exercise that could cause you to fall or lose your balance e.g. horse riding, cycling, gymnastics, water skiing etc…
Some key bits of advice when exercising:
- If in doubt, ask your doctor or a health professional about whether exercise is safe for you
- Always start slow, don’t expect your body to feel the same as it did pre-pregnancy, it’s unlikely to (ps: it may feel like it, but your baby isn’t going to fall out!)
- If you are new to exercise, then start by walking regularly, you will be amazed at how much good just going for a walk will do for you
- I would suggest that if you go for a walk/run someone knows where you are incase you get into problems and need to go home
- I would therefore, also take a mobile with you at all times so you have a way of reaching someone who can come and get you
- If your bump feels really heavy or your lower back is painful, try a maternity band – they are extremely useful!
When shouldn’t I exercise?
I am not a doctor, so I cannot give a full list of when you shouldn’t, but if you are in doubt at all, please ask your doctor. It is absolutely so much better to be safe rather than sorry.
I hope that this is helpful!