Our bodies have evolved over hundreds of thousands of years to be able to remain active during pregnancy. Pregnancy is not a time to stop all activity and eat for two. It is recommended to maintain or take up 30 minutes of gentle exercise a day during your pregnancy – as long as you are well and haven’t been advised to avoid exercise. Some pregnant women are prescribed bed rest during pregnancy if they have a high-risk pregnancy that would be jeopardised by exercise.
If you haven’t done much exercise previously exercise that includes the whole body and is gentle without being too intensely aerobic or high impact, such as yoga, pilates or swimming, are often preferred by women during pregnancy. There are lots of lovely classes in aqua natal yoga, antenatal pilates, antenatal yoga and when you are heavily pregnant it can be such a relief to swim and feel weightless and cool in the water. It is always good to let your instructor know you are pregnant so that exercises can be tailored to meet your pregnancy needs. This is particularly important when at the gym or doing classes that are generalised classes and not specific to pregnant women.
However, if you have any medical problems such as symphysis pubis dysfunction (see our full article on SPD), asthma or hypertension it’s worth talking to your GP or antenatal team before taking up a new exercise or carrying on with your usual exercise routine.
If you have been diagnosed with SPD you will probably be advised to avoid exercise that causes the pelvis and/or the sacral joint to separate and inflame the pelvis such as swimming breaststroke, riding a bike and excessive walking or running.
If you generally play high impact or dangerous sports you will need to speak to your GP and get advice from your sporting body about any risks to continuing your exercise during pregnancy.
Towards the end of pregnancy, it is generally recommended to concentrate on gentle and holistic low-impact exercises like yoga, swimming and walking as it is harder to move and react as you can when you are not heavily pregnant.