Staying active in pregnancy has many benefits. It can help improve your pregnancy symptoms and sometimes help prevent medical complications which could affect your baby or you during and after pregnancy. These include diabetes and high blood pressure, two of the main problems that can affect pregnant women in pregnancy. It could improve pelvic pain, swelling and help with coping better in labour. Physical activity helps improve fitness levels and helps to control weight gain, improves mood and helps improve sleep.
Guidelines have been published by the UK chief medical officer and can be seen on the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists website:
The main message is to aim for at least 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity activity throughout your pregnancy.
If you already are active then carry on! If not it’s important to start gradually. Think about what you can do at home and out and about in everyday activities which could keep you active such as walking, cycling, climbing stairs, playing with your children. You can still dance and run and go to the gym. You may find that local gyms/ groups offer pregnancy yoga or pilates classes or aqua-natal classes as well as pregnancy gym classes. If you can swim, swimming is a good low impact activity which exercises your whole body. Often the classes adapt for any gestation of pregnancy. It is a good way of keeping fit, meeting other pregnant women and classes often continue after delivery, new babies are welcome!
The advice suggests that for the activity to be affective do each exercise/activity in bouts of at least ten minutes. You will notice as your pregnancy progresses then you may adapt your activity to lower impact/ not as strenuous. Always avoid injury to your bump and do not start strenuous exercises that you are not previously used to doing.
Sarah Merritt, Consultant Obstetrician