Exercise During Pregnancy

Dr Penny White (Osteopath)

During pregnancy a woman’s body goes through an incredible transformation. In the absence of any contraindications, regular exercise during pregnancy can help support your body throughout pregnancy and post-partum. It can be very confusing to know what exercise is right for you during your pregnancy – don’t worry we are here to help! You will often have a lot of conflicting advice from friends, family and even social media sources. We’ll help you clear up some of the confusion and point you in the right direction for further information. 

Why should I  exercise during pregnancy?

There are lots of benefits to keeping active during your pregnancy, these include: 

  • Reduced risk of pregnancy related hypertension and gestational diabetes 
  • Maintaining strength and fitness to support the body during this period of rapid growth 
  • Maintaining physical and mental health 

What types of exercise should I participate in during pregnancy?

Not all types of exercise are safe to do whilst you are pregnant. Some types of exercise that we recommend during pregnancy are:

  • Clinical Pilates (at Beyond, all of our clinical Pilates instructors have experience in Clinical Pilates during pregnancy and will tailor your class accordingly)
  • Walking 
  • Swimming
  • Cycling
  • Specialised yoga
  • Stretching
  • Pelvic floor exercises (during the first and second trimester and post-partum)
  • Strength training 

What exercise should I avoid?

  • Contact or high impact sports where there is trauma risk 
  • Competition sports 
  • Exercise in an excessively hot pool 
  • Lying on your back after the 4th month of pregnancy as venous supply can be compromised 

Other things to consider with exercise during pregnancy:

  • Stop exercising if you experience any dizziness, chest pain, muscle pain, vaginal bleeding, excessive fatigue, abdominal pain, pelvic pain or excessive shortness of breath (and consult your doctor)
  • Stay well hydrated and exercise in an environment where you won’t get too hot or too cold 
  • Hormonal changes can increase joint laxity, be mindful of this so you don’t over stretch or stress your joints 

How much exercise should I be doing whilst pregnant?

If you have been given the all clear to exercise, we recommend you aim to meet the Australian Physical Activity Guidelines which are 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week (or a combination of the two). 

Any exercise is better than none. If you aren’t exercising at all currently, start by doing a small amount of low or moderate intensity and slowly increase. 

Always listen to your body. Don’t over exert yourself and if you’re feeling exhausted, rest. This isn’t the time to be working towards maximum fitness, this is a time for maintaining general fitness and strength. 

What about after I have my baby?

Deconditioning generally happens post-partum, consider this when returning to exercise. Start gently and slowly increase until you are at your pre-pregnancy fitness levels.

We generally suggest returning to exercise 4-8 weeks post-partum depending on your birth. This is dependant on your individual circumstances and we recommend working with our practitioners at Beyond for the return to exercise plan that’s right for you. 

Where can you get more information and assistance?

It is recommended to get guidance from your doctor or obstetrician to ensure you don’t have any complications that will affect your ability to safely exercise during pregnancy. 

Once you have the all clear, depending on what exercise you would like to do, we recommend you have a guided assessment with one of our Accredited Exercise Physiologists or Clinical Pilates instructors. 

Our practitioners can support you to MOVE THROUGH your pregnancy (and post pregnancy). We will  make any alterations to your exercise program specific to your needs such as any medical conditions, symptoms or your functional capacity (which will change throughout your pregnancy) to help you have a healthy and active pregnancy.

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