How exercise can help you have a happy and healthy pregnancy
How much exercise do I need to do? – Should I carry on as normal? Shouldn’t I? What’s recommended and what’s off limits? We take you through the dos and don’ts of pregnancy exercise
First, it’s important to be active during your pregnancy as this will boost your and your baby’s physical health – and helps you to balance your emotional wellbeing.
Exercising in pregnancy is safe and healthy. You can do most types of exercise including running, Pilates, weights, yoga and swimming.
Make sure you tell your instructor that you are pregnant (and any complications or conditions you may have) and if your class isn’t a pregnancy-specific class, ask the instructor if they are any exercises that you shouldn’t do. They’ll usually suggest ways to adapt the exercises for you.
Say no to contact
Contact activities, such as kick boxing, or self-defence classes, or games like squash where there is a chance of being hit should be avoided. Sports which have a risk of falling like horse riding or skiing should only be done with extreme caution.
‘But I’m no Gym Bunny!’
Don’t worry if you did not exercise before getting pregnant, it is safe and healthy to start now. Start with 15 minutes of exercise three times a week and increase it gradually to 30-minute sessions four days a week to every day. Exercise doesn’t have to be planned sessions. There are exercises and pregnancy DVDs you can do at home or at work and that fit in around your day – like building in a bit of walking on your commute to work and taking the stairs instead of the lift.
Don’t forget to Floor it!
There are some specific exercises you can do in pregnancy to keep your pelvic floor in shape. These can help prepare for labour and pay dividends after your baby is born. Thanks to all the cheeky words in these instructions, you won’t be able to get through without a snigger but do try giving these a go:
- Clench your bottom as if you’re trying not to fart (we did warn you!)
- At the same time, draw in your vagina as if you’re gripping a tampon (yes really), and your urethra as if you’re trying not to wee
- At first, do this exercise quickly - tightening and releasing the muscles immediately
- Then do it sloooowly, holding the contractions for as long as you can before you relax. Try to count to 10 (ask yourself just how strange your facial expression is right now!) try to do three sets of eight squeezes every day
The benefits of staying active:
- Helps soothe aches and pains
- Reduces stress levels
- Improves oxygen flow to your baby from the placenta