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Is exercise during Pregnancy safe?
- Yes, for a normal, healthy pregnancy, exercise is not only safe, but has many potential benefits for both mother and child.
- A healthy woman with a normal pregnancy may continue in an already established exercise routine; however, it is recommended that she not increase the intensity of the exercise above pre-pregnancy levels.
- If a woman has not been exercising on a regular basis prior to pregnancy, she should consult her physician before beginning a new exercise routine.
What are the benefits of exercise during pregnancy?
- Reduces the risk of preeclampsia
- Helps prevent gestational diabetes
- Helps reduce and manage musculoskeletal pain
- After delivery, exercise helps boost the mood and reduce symptoms of post-partum depression
What types of exercises should be done during pregnancy?
- Ideal non-weight bearing activities include swimming and cycling. After the first trimester, stationary cycling should be substituted for road cycling, as the mother’s center of gravity changes and the risk of falls increases.
- Weight bearing exercises may include walking, jogging, low-impact aerobics, or Pilates.
- Heavy weightlifting and other activities that require straining are not recommended.
Pelvic floor and Pregnancy
- Pelvic floor exercises can be particularly important for women during pregnancy. The pelvic floor refers to the group of muscles that stretch from the pubic bone to the base of the spine. They help hold the bladder, uterus, and bowel in place. These muscles also help control when you empty your bladder or move your bowels. During pregnancy these muscles can be stretched and become weaker
- Performing 3 sets of 10 pelvic floor exercises daily can help support the extra weight of pregnancy, shorten the second stage of labor when the baby is being pushed out, and speed recovery following delivery.
- To perform a pelvic floor contraction, imagine that you are trying to stop yourself from passing wind and trying to stop your flow of urine mid-stream at the same time. You should feel a drawing-in sensation. Try to work up to holding the contraction for the length of time it takes you to breathe in and out 3 times.
Tips for ensuring safety during exercise
- As changes in weight distribution occur, balance and coordination may be decreased. It is important to choose exercises that do not take you beyond the limits of stability.
- Avoid large changes in internal temperature. Fluid intake before, during, and after exercise can help ensure adequate hydration. Wear loose-fitting clothing and avoid exercising in high heat and humidity.
- Avoid exercising in extreme changes of atmospheric pressure, as in SCUBA diving and high altitude exercise.
- After the first trimester, avoid exercises that require you to lay flat on your back.
- Adjust daily caloric intake in order to ensure proper nutrition and adequate weight gain.
- If pregnancy is not progressing normally or if vaginal bleeding, membrane rupture, persistent pain, chronic fatigue, or regular contractions more than 30 minutes after exercise occur, medical attention should be sought.
At Sydney Sports and Orthopaedic Physiotherapy our highly qualified physiotherapists specialise in the assessment, treatment and prevention of neuromusculoskeletal injuries.
Contact us today - 9252 5770
This handout was prepared by Sydney Sports and Orthopaedic Physiotherapy and is intended as a general information service. Please note that the information provided is not intended as a substitute for advice from a registered physician or healthcare professional. If symptoms persist, please consult your doctor.