Education

Can pregnant women exercise?

Traditionally, pregnant women were instructed to reduce exercise and activity levels for the duration of the pregnancy …

Traditionally, pregnant women were instructed to reduce exercise and activity levels for the duration of the pregnancy and immediately after giving birth. But recent evidence suggests that when a woman exercises during pregnancy, she’ll display normal variations in physiological responses to exercise that aid in the maintenance of foetal well-being during exercise. So yes, women in good condition who continue a regular exercise regimen throughout the duration of their pregnancy do not experience an increase in the incidence of congenital abnormalities, premature membrane rupture, duration of labour or preterm delivery rate, low foetal birth weight or slow neonatal development.

Current guidelines for exercising while pregnant

 
  • Remain active. Even exercising up to a moderate intensity is safe, So maintain a good fitness level throughout pregnancy without trying to reach peak fitness or train for an athletic competition.

  • Check with your specific Sport’s Association to see if they have a policy regarding pregnant athletes engaging in competition. Most don’t. They leave the decision to the individual athlete, coach and health care professionals.

Frequency and duration of exercise

 
  • Training sessions of up to 60 minutes, 6 days per week does not appear to be harmful to the foetus.

Intensity of exercise

 
  • You are able to continue training at moderate intensity during your pregnancy, even with the occasional bouts of high intensity, or maximal exercise, without any detrimental effects to either your health or your foetus.

  • In order to monitor your intensity during exercise, rating scales, such as Borg scale of Perceived Exertion, should be used rather than heart rate. Exercising according to your heart rate is not recommended, due to the blunted heart rate response when you are pregnant and exercising.

 

Type of exercise

 
  • Varies, depending on the stage of your pregnancy. Ligament laxity occurs as a result of increased production of the hormones relaxin and oestrogen, resulting in ‘pelvis remodelling’, in order to accommodate the growing foetus.

  • Associated posture changes and the weight gain associated with pregnancy also affect what you are able to do. Virtually all women experience some degree of musculoskeletal discomfort during pregnancy, in particular low back pain.

  • Enjoy your food
    The food you eat has to be enjoyable, practical, realistic and sustainable, while also addressing your short-term performance needs and long-term health needs.

  • Enjoy your food
    The food you eat has to be enjoyable, practical, realistic and sustainable, while also addressing your short-term performance needs and long-term health needs.

 

Stop exercise if you suffer any of the following:


  • Pain or uterine contractions
  • Dizziness
  • Palpitations
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Leakage of amniotic fluid
  • Vomiting
  • Pins and needles
  • Visual disturbances

Stop exercise if you suffer any of the following:


  • Drink plenty of fluids, to avoid dehydration of you and foetus

When can i return to exercise / competition after giving birth?


  • It wouldn’t be advisable to return to exercise or competition any earlier than 6-8 weeks post-partum (particularly if a caesarean was performed).

  • The ultimate decision on when to compete post-partum should be based on your fitness goals, fitness testing results, and progression and level of training.

  • It must be made in consultation with your coach, obstetrician and any other health professional involved with your care.
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Contact Balmain Sports Medicine if you have any questions about exercising during your pregnancy.

Don’t let pain or injury hold you back.

When pain or injury happen, trust the experts at Balmain Sports Medicine.

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