North West Private Hospital
Part of Ramsay Health Care

Let’s Get Physical

We all know that regular exercise brings many health benefits including increased fitness, stress relief and weight loss but many women who become pregnant are unsure about how they should exercise safely in the months leading up to their new arrival.

The good news is that while you may not be able to pound the pavement like you used to, there are plenty of options for you to keep moving during pregnancy. In fact, when safe, exercise can help you deal with many of the discomforts associated with pregnancy such as swelling of the legs and feet and can help prepare your body for childbirth and ease recovery.

First step is to discuss your current or planned exercise regime with your GP, physiotherapist or other health care professional to make sure you won’t be doing more harm than good. If you are expecting multiple babies or have had complications during your pregnancy it may be best to consult your obstetrician on the best ways to keep active.

If you’ve got the all clear to get moving then read on to learn some top tips on staying active during pregnancy from the North West Private Maternity team.

If you were a bit of a couch potato before pregnancy, now isn’t the best time to launch into a strenuous exercise regime. Take it slow and build up to a light to moderate level of activity - as a general rule if you are struggling to talk you are probably pushing it too hard.

  • As your bump grows it might be beneficial to head to the water for your daily activity. Swimming and gentle water aerobics are great as they take the strain off overloaded joints.
  • Thrill seekers will need to find other options to pursue – activities such as horse riding, snow and water skiing, scuba diving and contact sports all present various risks to the health of mother and unborn baby and are best avoided.
  • If you like to cycle make sure you stay put – gentle use of a stationary exercise bike is fine for most pregnant women but road cycling and mountain biking can lead to falls and need to wait until you’ve fully recovered from the birth.
  • If you prefer to exercise in a class environment make sure you choose a qualified instructor and that they know you are pregnant.
  • Avoid exercises that require you to lie on your back such as some yoga or pilates positions. The weight of your growing bump can press on large blood vessels delivering blood and oxygen to you and your baby.
  • Whatever your exercise regime stay hydrated before, during and after your chosen activity and stop immediately if you feel faint, dizzy or have any pain. Avoid exercising in hot weather.
  • Don’t forget to exercise the muscles you can’t see. A strong pelvic floor is important to help your body manage the growing weight of your baby and can help during labour and enhance recovery after childbirth.

Remember that exercise doesn’t have to leave you exhausted to be beneficial – this is not the time to try to reach peak physical fitness! Aim for 30 minutes of moderate activity five times a week and you will be reaping the rewards of improved physical and psychological well-being as you prepare for your childbirth.

For more information on exercise during pregnancy visit these links:

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/pregnancy-and-exercise

http://www.nutritionaustralia.org/national/resource/physical-activity-during-pregnancy