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How to Make Exercise in Pregnancy Safe

Exercise During Pregnancy


Exercise during pregnancy has a positive effect on your health and the developing baby. Women who exercise during pregnancy experience less back and pelvic pain, lower risk of developing gestational diabetes, better diabetic control if they already have diabetes, and a lower risk of complications during labour. The babies of women who exercise during pregnancy appear to tolerate the stress of labour better and are more alert and less irritable in the days immediately after birth.

The ACSM recommend that when exercising during pregnancy you should avoid getting injured, overheating, physical stress, or nutritional stress such as the following:
• You should avoid the following: scuba diving, high altitude activities, activities with risk of falling, and activities with risk of abdominal trauma
• Drink plenty of water throughout the session to prevent your internal body temperature rising too quickly
• Be careful when doing exercises that need lots of side stepping, wide stances, and standing on one leg for too long because your pelvic girdle (symphysis pubis and sacroiliac joint) becomes unstable during pregnancy
• Choose low impact exercises and avoid sudden direction changes because your joints become loose due to pregnancy hormones
• Warm-up and cool-down gradual over 5-10 minutes because your pulse rate and blood pressure becomes unpredictable during pregnancy and you will need the extra time for your body to adjust
• Always have a snack of a starchy carbohydrate food before exercise to prevent your blood sugar may fall too quickly due to the demands of the baby
• Avoid exercises where you are lying on your back in your second and third trimester because the weight of the baby may press on the major blood vessels that run along the inner side of your spine

What are the signs that I am exercising too much?

You should stop exercising immediately if you experience any symptoms including the following:

Furthermore, if you have any of the following conditions or symptoms should consult your doctor before increasing your activity levels:
• If you are not in the habit of doing exercise
• If the baby is growing too slow and is small
• Poorly controlled Hypertension • Poorly controlled seizure/epilepsy disorder
• Poorly controlled insulin-dependent diabetes
• Severe anaemia
Chronic bronchilitis • Irregular heart beat
• Poorly controlled thyroid disease
• Extremely overweight: BMI 35 kg/m2 • Extremely underweight: BMI 18 kg/m2 • Problems with your joints
• Heavy smoker

Finally, if you have any of the following conditions you should not exercise during pregnancy:
• Heart disease or extremely low blood pressure
• Restrictive lung disease
• Incompetent cervix or have had stitches to the cervical (cerclage)
• Pregnant with two or more babies with risk for preterm labour
• Persistent second or third trimester bleeding
• If the placenta partially or wholly blocks the neck of the uterus, so interfering with normal delivery of a baby (placenta previa) after 26 weeks of gestation
• Premature labour during the current pregnancy
• Rupture of membranes
• Pregnancy-induced hypertension

However, before undertaking any exercise during pregnancy we recommend that you discuss with your plans with your midwife or obstetric consultant.  

The Family Nutrition Coach can provide individualised exercise programs to meet your needs before, during and after pregnancy.

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