Exercise in pregnancy

The more active and fit you are during pregnancy, the easier it will be for you to adapt to your changing shape and weight gain. It will also help you to cope with labour and get back into shape after the birth.

Keep up your normal daily physical activity or exercise (sport, running, yoga, dancing, or even walking to the shops and back) for as long as you feel comfortable.

Exercise is not dangerous for your baby.Research has shown that regular moderate exercise during pregnancy can

  • Reduce the chance of you developing gestational diabetes
  • Reduce the chance of you developing pre eclampsia
  • Reduce the chance of gaining an excessive amount of weight that can lead to complications during the birth
  • Improve your mood and emotional wellbeing
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Exercise tips in pregnancy

Don't exhaust yourself. You may need to slow down as your pregnancy progresses or if your maternity team advises you to. If in doubt, consult your maternity team.

If you weren't active before you got pregnant, don't suddenly take up strenuous exercise. If you start an aerobic exercise programme (such as running, swimming, cycling, walking or aerobics classes), tell the instructor that you're pregnant and begin with no more than 15 minutes of continuous exercise, three times a week. Increase this gradually to at least four 30-minute sessions a week.

Remember that exercise doesn't have to be strenuous to be beneficial.

Exercise tips when you're pregnant:

  • always warm up before exercising, and cool down afterwards
  • try to keep active on a daily basis: half an hour of walking each day can be enough, but if you can't manage that, any amount is better than nothing
  • avoid any strenuous exercise in hot weather
  • drink plenty of water and other fluids
  • if you go to exercise classes, make sure your teacher is properly qualified, and knows that you're pregnant as well as how many weeks pregnant you are
  • you might like to try swimming because the water will support your increased weight. Some local swimming pools provide aquanatal classes with qualified instructors.
  • exercises that have a risk of falling, such as horse riding, downhill skiing, ice hockey, gymnastics and cycling, should only be done with caution due to the risk of falling.

Exercises to avoid in pregnancy

  • Don't lie flat on your backs for prolonged periods, because the weight of your bump presses on the main blood vessel bringing blood back to your heart and this can make you feel faint.
  • Don't take part in contact sports where there's a risk of being hit, such as kickboxing
  • Don't go scuba diving, because the baby has no protection against decompression sickness and gas embolism (gas bubbles in the bloodstream)
  • Don't exercise at heights over 2,500m above sea level until you have acclimatised: this is because you and your baby are at risk of altitude sickness.

Pelvic floor exercises

Pelvic floor exercises help to strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor, which come under great strain in pregnancy and childbirth. The pelvic floor consists of layers of muscles that stretch like a supportive hammock from the pubic bone (in front) to the end of the backbone.

If your pelvic floor muscles are weak, you may find that you leak urine when you cough, sneeze or strain. This is quite common and you needn't feel embarrassed. It's known as stress incontinence and it can continue after pregnancy.

You can strengthen the muscles by doing pelvic floor exercises. This helps to reduce or avoid stress incontinence after pregnancy. All pregnant women should do pelvic floor exercises, even if you're young and not suffering from stress incontinence now.

How to do pelvic floor exercises:

  • close up your anus as if you're trying to prevent a bowel movement
  • at the same time, draw in your vagina as if you're gripping a tampon, and your urethra as if to stop the flow of urine
  • at first, do this exercise quickly, tightening and releasing the muscles immediately
  • then do it slowly, holding the contractions for as long as you can before you relax: try to count to 10
  • try to do three sets of eight squeezes every day: to help you remember, you could do a set at each meal

As well as these exercises, practise tightening up the pelvic floor muscles before and during coughing and sneezing.

For more information and exercises to try click

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/p...

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/governmen...

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