Most people make a New Year’s Resolution to get more exercise! This is especially important while you are pregnant, as maintaining a healthy weight helps to minimise the risk of pregnancy complications for you and your baby.
Most forms of exercise are very safe for pregnant women. Options that are gentle on your joints, such as swimming, yoga, cycling and walking are excellent choices. Contact sports, martial arts, extreme sports and scuba diving should be avoided.
A large clinical study was recently published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. It found that pregnant women who completed three 50-minute aerobic exercise sessions each week were significantly less likely to develop high blood pressure during pregnancy or have a large baby (www.ajog.org/article/S0002-9378(15)02479-5/abstract. Women who did not exercise regularly were also 50% more likely to gain excessive weight while pregnant.
You may notice some differences exercising during your pregnancy:
- Normal pregnancy often produces a sensation of breathlessness even without exercise, so you may get out of breath more quickly during exertion
- The increased weight in the pregnant abdomen and breasts may affect some exercises and a well-fitting sports bra is very important
- Many women report mild stress urinary incontinence during pregnancy, which may be triggered while exercising. A thin panty liner under your exercise gear can be helpful
- The natural relaxation of the pelvis and joints during pregnancy, makes women more prone to joint injury during high-impact exercise – so be careful!
Only in very rare situations should exercise be avoided during pregnancy. If you have any queries about the safety of exercise in your pregnancy, you should discuss these with your obstetrician.