Fitness and exercise during pregnancy

Active and healthy pregnancy

When you’ve got a little one on the way, it’s really important to keep up your physical activity because it helps the body prepare for pregnancy and childbirth.

In fact, if you haven’t been very active beforehand, being pregnant is a really good time to review the amount of activity you do. While, every pregnancy is different, in most cases physical activity will help make the birth easier and increases your body’s smooth recovery after childbirth.

Why is physical activity so essential?

There are heaps of reasons why being physically active is important, because activity and exercise:

  • improves posture, strengthens muscles and helps the body to carry the growing baby more comfortably
  • gives us more energy and stamina
  • prepares the body and makes it easier to cope with the demands of birth and looking after a new baby
  • helps us get back into shape quicker after the birth
  • helps control weight and stress
  • helps us to relax and improves sleep.

How much and what types of activity?

Just 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, if not all, days of the week is recommended.

If you’re already active, keep going! But always check with your medical practitioner to make sure your activity is suitable for you and your baby, because pregnancy affects the body's response to exercise.

A change in hormones and weight can also affect the body so you might need to modify your current activities or choose some new ones.

Some women may get dizzy because of blood pressure changes, so don’t move quickly from sitting to standing. Your resting heart rate will probably also increase during pregnancy so it’s important to avoid being too vigorous.

Ideas for keeping active during pregnancy include:

  • walking
  • swimming
  • aqua aerobics
  • yoga
  • Tai Chi
  • stretching
  • dancing
  • pilates
  • pregnancy exercise classes.

They’re all great ways to keep active at this important time of life.

Start slowly

If you haven’t been active for a while, it’s vital that you start off slowly and also check with your doctor, especially if:

  • you are expecting more than one baby
  • you have high blood pressure 
  • heart disease
  • pre-eclampsia
  • there’s a risk of premature birth.

Exercise with care

When you’re pregnant, it’s important to remember:

  • not to overheat
  • be active during the cooler parts of the day and keep the effort moderate
  • not to exercise if you feel unwell
  • stop if you feel dizzy or have any pain – and see your doctor
  • strengthen the muscles of the abdomen and pelvic floor.
    Instead of traditional sit-ups, try to exercise your core muscles by drawing your belly button towards your spine without holding your breathe, relax and repeat several times a day.