Pumping with a bump: Exercise during pregnancy is a win for your body, your mind and your baby!
We’ve come a long way since pregnant women were isolated, restricted to their beds and referred to as being in “a delicate condition”. Today we know just how strong and amazing women’s bodies are — and that there’s a strong case for women being active throughout pregnancy.
Exercise during pregnancy has minimal risks — and can actually make the journey smoother for many women. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) found that women with uncomplicated pregnancies should be encouraged to do aerobic and strength conditioning exercises before, during and after pregnancy.
Your first call should be to your doctor to get their advice, but regular exercise during pregnancy can help you in many ways:
- Maintain or even improve your fitness — both physical and mental.
- Help counteract side effects of pregnancy like fatigue, constipation, nausea.
- Manage your weight.
- Reduce the risk of gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia
- Release stress.
- Feel strength and agency in your changing body
- Decrease risk of complications during delivery
- Shorter active labor
What exercise should pregnant women be doing?
The ACOG baseline recommendation is that pregnant women should exercise at a moderate intensity for 20-30 minutes per day, most days of the week. But new research from the Canadian Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists testifies that to optimise their delivery and the health of their baby all women without specific contraindications should be participating in both aerobic and strength and conditioning exercise during pregnancy.
Aerobic exercise could include:
- Swimming: Take a load off – in the water you weigh a tenth of what you do on land!
- Walking: Get some fresh air, catch up with friends or just get 10 minutes in between meetings/errands.
- Non-exercise physical activity: Pump the tunes while you do some vigorous vacuuming around the house, or even working in the garden can get your body moving.
- Running: Experienced runners can continue running through pregnancy – again, check with your doctor and keep a close eye on whether you feel extra pressure on your knees/ankles.
- Low impact aerobics and dance classes: Just be aware you may have more trouble with your balance than usual!
- Indoor cycling: Low impact and good for cardio.
Strength conditioning exercises could include:
- Reformer Pilates: Perfect to strengthen your core, easing pressure on your back and improving posture. Amping up your flexibility can only be a bonus for labour!
- Resistance training: Using bands, light weights and body weight movements to maintain your strength and bone health.