Pregnancy exercise guide
How exercise can help you
Regular exercise can help you to cope with the physical and mental demands of being pregnant, and prepare you for the rigours of labour. All those pregnancy niggles, such as back ache, constipation and fatigue, will be easier to keep at bay, too.
Maintaining a healthy level of fitness is all part of staying well during pregnancy. We know that exercise can help prevent problems such as pre-eclampsia or gestational diabetes. Exercise can improve your general mood and self-image, and you may find that a workout during the day helps you to sleep better at night.
You'll find it easier to control your weight gain if you exercise. This benefit continues after your baby is born, making it easier for you to get back into shape.
Best forms of exercise for pregnant women
The best types of exercise during pregnancy:
get your heart pumping
keep you supple
manage weight gain
prepare your muscles for the work of labour and birth
Do not cause undue physical stress for you or your baby
Walking, jogging, swimming and aquanatal classes, and cycling on an exercise bike are all considered good, safe forms of exercise, as long as you don't overdo them. Yoga and Pilates are also ideal, as long as you find a registered, qualified teacher who is experienced in dealing with pregnant women.
Which sports are not recommended?
Sports where you might have a hard fall or be thrown off-balance are not a good idea. These include horse-riding, skiing, gymnastics and waterskiing. Diving is also unsafe during pregnancy. Ball sports such as football, tennis and squash are also risky, because you may be hit in the stomach.
Most doctors and midwives recommend giving up cycling on the road after the second trimester. Even if you're an experienced cyclist, there's a danger you'll fall or be knocked off your bike. You can, however, use an exercise bike throughout pregnancy.
If I've never exercised before, what precautions should I take?