The Benefits of Exercise during Pregnancy
Pregnancy and giving birth are both physically demanding on the body. Building or maintaining a reasonable level of fitness will help you manage the physical and emotional demands of pregnancy, birth and early parenting.
All pregnant women who are not experiencing complications should participate in aerobic and strength-conditioning exercises as part of a healthy lifestyle. They should also include regular pelvic floor exercises in their program (please refer to section on how to do pelvic floor exercises correctly for more information). The goal should be to engage in regular physical activity to maintain a reasonable level of fitness throughout pregnancy, without trying to reach peak fitness.
There are many physical and emotional benefits to exercise during during pregnancy:
increased energy levels
improved fitness and strength
improved sleep and management of insomnia
physical preparation for the demands of labour
fewer delivery complications in women who are physically active during pregnancy
may improve recovery following birth
decreased risk of developing pregnancy-induced high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia
reduced risk of anxiety and depression
reduced back and pelvic pain
may shorten labour
reduced risk of urinary incontinence following birth (if incorporating pelvic floor exercises).
Before exercising when pregnant, consult your doctor or healthcare professional. Discuss appropriate physical activities suited to your stage of pregnancy, health and fitness level. Don’t just do an exercise because the pregnant woman next to you is doing it. You may need to modify your existing exercise program or choose a suitable new one if you were exercising very little before getting pregnant.
There are so many options for enjoyable movement and maintaining fitness and strength during pregnancy! Some generally safe exercise includes walking, swimming, water-based exercise, cycling and low impact muscle strengthening exercises (including pilates and pelvic floor exercises). Have a look at the ‘Exercise’ section on this website for more information about exercise suggestions in pregnancy.
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