Exercise and pregnancy

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Woman and exercise ball
Woman leaning on exercise ball
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Cooking a special bun in your belly? Not sure if exercising is safe for you and your baby? Put your mind at ease. With the exception of a few women with severe health conditions, exercise during pregnancy is not only safe, but has positive health effects for both Mum and bub.

Good for the girth

Exercising is good for the girth and, combined with good nutrition, prevents overweight or obesity. Excessive body weight carries health risks at any time of life, but there are specific risks that arise when a woman is pregnant. So getting your sneakers on may be more important during this time than ever.

What is needed is a safe exercise routine, which you can get easily from your doctor, so you can avoid stress on yourself and distress for your baby.

Over-nutrition in pregnancy For more information, see Health Risks of Over-Nutrition in Pregnancy.
Weight gain in pregnancy For more information, see How Much Weight to Gain during Pregnancy.

Good for the pregnancy

You don’t need to wait until you’re pregnant to start exercising. Being active before pregnancy can lower your chances of getting hypertension, preeclampsia and gestational diabetes mellitus, conditions which present health risks for both mother and baby. Women who exercise are also less likely to need a caesarean delivery. So get your Lorna Janes on, ladies!

Exercising before pregnancy For more information, see Exercise before Pregnancy.

Good for bub

Exercise during pregnancy promotes your baby’s wellbeing by protecting against future health problems such as heart disease and impaired glucose tolerance. Women who exercise generally have slightly smaller babies, but exercise still reduces the risk of the baby being far too small – in other words, the baby is more likely to be born with a healthy weight (> 2.5 kg).

Good for Mum’s body…

Exercise also benefits the general health of the pregnant woman, and can help relieve pregnancy-specific complaints such as back pain. And did we mention less bloating and constipation – because there’s nothing like problems going to toilet to make pregnancy even more challenging.

… and her mind!

Exercise during pregnancy promotes emotional wellbeing. Women who exercise are more relaxed and therefore cope better with the emotional and physiological strains of pregnancy, including the demands of labour. Exercise also promotes positive body image and self-esteem, improves sleep, and increases energy levels. These positive emotional effects continue after pregnancy, decreasing the new Mum’s risk of postnatal depression.

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Be extra careful if you have any health issues

Some health conditions can make exercise very risky, so you must talk to your doctor if you suffer from heart disease, lung disease or have had pregnancy complications in the past.

Safety considerations For more information, see Safety Considerations when Exercising during Pregnancy..

Make a move

Now that you know just how good exercise during pregnancy is for you and your baby, it’s time to get moving. If you have safety concerns, make a move to the doctor to find out which exercises are safe for you. Otherwise, how about a walk in the park? A swim at the beach? A session at the gym? Relaxing with a little yoga? Even if you’ve never exercised before, what better inspiration to start than for the love of the little person inside you?

More information

Pregnancy exercise For more information, see Benefits and Risks of Exercise during Pregnancy.
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Date Created: November 30, 2011 Date Modified: February 3, 2014