Exercising During Pregnancy

A common question we get is what type of exercise should I be during pregnancy and how hard can I push myself?

What exercise can I do while I’m pregnant?

This is a common question that Mums ask when they come to see us for a prenatal assessment.

Exercise is an important and beneficial part of pregnancy for many reasons. Benefits may include:

  • Increasing/maintaining strength
  • Optimising flexibility
  • Aiding in the treatmentment/prevention of gestational diabetes
  • Improving energy levels
  • Counteracting pain and stiffness associated with a growing belly
  • Improving sleep

When it comes to the type of exercise that is most appropriate, it comes down to the individual and what stage of pregnancy they are at.

In the first trimester it is recommended that high intensity exercise be minimised as this is the trimester with the most risk for miscarriage. If you are lucky enough to not feel too sick, low-impact and low-moderate intensity exercise is an option, particularly if this is something you’re already doing. 

In the beginning of the second trimester, most women will experience a decrease in nausea and vomiting and an increase in energy. This, along with the lower risk of miscarriage, invites women who are already exercising increase the intensity, and other Mums-to-be to begin a form of exercise that is appropriate for them. 

During the second half of the second trimester until birth, with your baby and bump getting bigger, higher-intensity exercise that you were doing before pregnancy and up until now, may begin to feel more challenging. This is generally when women begin to modify their workouts and consider other exercise options that are more appropriate for the rest of their pregnancy.

 

A common recommendation for women starting exercise during pregnancy is prenatal Pilates due to its low-impact and appropriateness for the duration of pregnancy. Prenatal exercise is also recommended once women who are already exercising start to feel their other forms of physical activity are becoming too much.

Prenatal exercise (or prenatal Pilates) classes run by a Physiotherapist are targeted towards pregnant women specifically. They focus on strengthening the muscles around the pelvis, including the pelvic floor, mobilising the hips and lower back, gentle core work as appropriate, and upper body strengthening to prepare for carrying and feeding bub. Classes also provide a social space for pregnant women to discuss their pregnancy experience with other women and their Physiotherapist.

Here at All For One, we see women from early pregnancy to full-term, with the focus shifting depending on the needs of the Mum-to-be and the stage of pregnancy she is at. Our prenatal classes are limited to a small class size of five women, to allow for a program to be tailored to you throughout the nine months. We have women attending who have never done Pilates before and are new to formal exercise, as well as women who are having to ease off their high-intensity or weight training program as their pregnancy progresses. Our tailored approach allows us to both ease newcomers into the class, as well as challenge those who have a higher base level of fitness. This also allows us to easily work with musculoskeletal conditions you already have or develop during your pregnancy (such as pelvic/back pain or pelvic floor issues), as well as accommodate for women that are no longer comfortable in certain positions, including on their back.

Other low-impact options for exercise include spin classes, prenatal yoga and hydrotherapy.