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To exercise, or not to exercise: it's one of the big pregnancy questions as expectant parents weigh up the benefits and risks of various activities. In this article we try to explain some of the do's and don’ts of exercising while pregnant.

When it comes to exercise, especially while pregnant, each person is different. Generally speaking however we encourage you to be as healthy as you can by both eating healthily and exercising most days. Moderate intensity of exercise is ideal. This means you breathe harder, have an elevated heart rate and are able to speak comfortably. Breathing hard during exercise is not harmful for you or your baby.

Exercising and pregnancy tips: a general guide

  • 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days. Or try two 15 minute blocks instead.
  • Be active throughout the day.

If your occupation requires prolonged sitting or repetitive positions, stand and gently stretch every 20-30 minutes. Include simple exercises, 10 heel lifts or 5-10 mini-squats, regularly during the day.

  • Join the hospital “Fit For Birth” classes.
  • Avoid vigorous / high impact exercise during pregnancy.
  • Avoid contact sport after 16 weeks.
  • Be careful exercising in hot weather.
  • Practise pelvic floor exercises daily.

Important tip: Consider checking with your midwife, doctor or physiotherapist before starting a new exercise program to ensure it is appropriate for you.

Consider lower intensity, and lower impact

Exercise such as walking, swimming, aqua aerobics, yoga or pilates during pregnancy has many benefits, for instance:

  • Helps to prepare you for the physical demands of labour and motherhood
  • You and your baby may have less body fat gain
  • You will recover more quickly after birth
  • Pregnancy aches and pains may be less

Understand the risks

Occasionally your doctor may ask you to minimise exercise (ie if you are developing preeclampsia or at risk of bleeding from a low placenta). Your physiotherapist may also give specific advice regarding exercise for your individual physical needs during and after pregnancy. Your body is changing daily including the awareness of your body and its movements. Sometimes this can result in poorer balance so be careful during exercise. It is quite okay to avoid some harder or more challenging exercises –simply do a few extra of the more moderate exercises instead.

Sport and Pregnancy

Avoid exposing your baby to the risk of falls or hard bumps directly to your tummy. For instance: playing contact sport, skiing or horse riding. It should be possible to enjoy your sport at some level during pregnancy unless there are complications. It is not recommended to continue contact sports after 4 months of pregnancy. Consider discussing your preferred sport and the required level of activity and its associated risks with your doctor or midwife and sporting organisation before you make a decision.

After pregnancy

Commence pelvic floor and simple core muscle exercises two days after delivery. Avoid excessive loading of your body such as running, straining, weight lifting and pilates for at least six weeks after birth unless specifically directed by your treating physiotherapist. This allows time for your body to heal and for your pelvic floor and core muscles to regain strength and control and better long term outcomes.

Need more help?

Visit the Maternity and Newborn section of our website to view services and support available to expectant parents from around the region.

Albury Wodonga Health does not accept any liability to any person for the information or advice provided in this article. We provide this information on the understanding that all persons reading it take responsibility for assessing its relevance and accuracy. Women are encouraged to discuss their health needs with their health practitioner. If you have concerns about your health, you should seek advice from your health provider.

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