Help With Exercise and Activity During Pregnancy

Offered By Walnut Grove Clinic

We know exercise is good for us - we are bombarded with information via the media, social media, fit friends and the like. Exercise is good for our cardiovascular systems, musculoskeletal systems and also our mental health - but what if you're pregnant?

How safe is it - how much should I do and what, if anything should I avoid?

The findings of the largest ever study of running in pregnancy were published in April 2018 thanks to the contribution of 1,293 women park runners from around the world.

The results appear in this month’s BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine, an open access journal covering all aspects of sport and exercise medicine, and are good news for pregnant women. The study concluded that there were no ill effects related to intensity or frequency of running, and continuing throughout pregnancy was also safe.

In fact, there is almost no research at all to suggest that exercise/activity of any sort in pregnancy is either bad for the mother or baby if the mother is used to that activity. There are a few of conditions that are exceptions:

• Cervical insufficiency or cerclage

• Being pregnant with twins or triplets (or more) with risk factors for preterm labour

• Placenta previa after 26 weeks of pregnancy

• Preterm labour or ruptured membranes (your water has broken) during this pregnancy

• Pre eclampsia or pregnancy-induced high blood pressure

For those of you who know anything about research - you know how rare it is for almost 100% of the research to point in one direction.

However I think there are some sensible guidelines to follow and if you are not sure consult a medical professional.

If you already do a sport to a high level, run, jump lift etc... then training is no problem but don’t plan to run a marathon if you have never done any running!!! Sonia O’Sullivan (for those of you old enough to remember the Irish distance runner) ran 66 miles in the week before giving birth to twins!! But it should be stressed that was half her usual mileage.

If you don’t already exercise then think about brisk walking, swimming, stationary bike/spinning, yoga/Pilates (don’t lie flat on your back for too long).  Remember; the hormone Relaxin loosens your ligaments from the first trimester during pregnancy - if you know that you are bad with balance (which will get worse as your centre of gravity changes) or have a tendency to tweak ankles etc. then be more careful with the surface you train on/ speed you go - reduce the risk.

Be aware you may get more out of breath.  A big lump up under your diaphragm will affect your ability to deep breath your oxygen requirement, which goes up when your pregnant .  A Good sports bra is essential anyway but even more important as you get bigger through your pregnancy to support and protect your breasts.  You can also get a belly support to assist if you get discomfort walking or running.

Avoid getting over heated or getting dehydrated, so drink lots of water and wear loose cool clothing if the weather is warm. 

Stop exercising and call your obstetrician or other member of your health care team if you have any of these signs or symptoms:

• Bleeding from the vagina

• Feeling dizzy or faint

• Shortness of breath before starting exercise

• Chest pain

• Headache

• Muscle weakness

• Calf pain or swelling

• Regular, painful contractions of the uterus

• Fluid leaking from the vagina

The overall message is exercise is as good for those who are pregnant as for the rest of us.  If you want some further advice talk to your healthcare provider or give us a ring at Walnut Grove Clinic - we have an experienced team who can help and support an exercise program throughout your pregnancy.


Want to keep learning?  Read about the author Zara Ford and explore more articles from Walnut Grove Clinic:

Active Health and Fitness Women's Health

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