Exercise During Pregnancy


It’s time to get those bumps looking good for summer! but more importantly, keep you and bub super healthy throughout your pregnancy and beyond.

During pregnancy, our body gradually changes due to the increase in hormones. Therefore, keeping strong, flexible and maintaining or improving overall fitness is very important for your body to manage these changes.

Why should I exercise?

Benefits for mothers:

  • Improves physical fitness and mood with long-term benefits

  • Aids weight management during and after the baby is born

  • Reduces risk of gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia

  • Decrease caesarean and operative vaginal delivery

  • Better labours (reduced pushing phase) and recovery time

  • Can help to relieve low back/pelvic girdle pain

  • Manage stomach separation

  • Relieve constipation… You can thank me later

Benefits for bub:

  • Boosts brain health

  • Reduced chances of diabetes and lower BMI


How often should I exercise?

This depends greatly on your starting point. The ACOG guidelines state ‘an exercise program that leads to an eventual goal of moderate-intensity exercise for at least 20-30 mins per day on most if not all days of the week’. If you have just started to exercise in pregnancy, we would advise you gradually build up to this over a period of time.

We encourage women to get into some type of exercise during pregnancy, even if they have never exercised prior pregnancy. Yes, you read that correct! you can start to exercise during pregnancy even if you have never exercised prior, under the guidance of a women’s health physiotherapist. If you have been exercising prior pregnancy, we do advise seeing a women’s health physiotherapist go through a thorough evaluation of your current program to make sure it is appropriate.


What’s the best exercise?

There isn’t a one fits all approach. Find an exercise that has a strength, flexibility and aerobic component, something that will compliment your body type, you find fun and convenient for you. Some great forms of exercise when pregnant are:

  • Women in Focus Pregnancy Pilates classes

  • Swimming/aqua aerobics

  • Brisk walking

  • Pregnancy yoga

  • Stationary bike riding

  • Strength-based gym classes

“You haven’t mentioned running or other high impact exercises”, is what you’re thinking….You can continue with high impact sport if you were doing it regularly prior pregnancy, however, I believe pregnancy is such a short period in a women’s lifetime, that staying off the high impact exercises and trying different forms of pelvic floor safe exercises, to decrease the risk of incontinence and prolapse… what’s a what?… prolapse?… that’s another blog!

At Women in Focus, we offer pregnancy Pilates classes. They are a great way to strengthen your body, prevent or reduce rectus abdominal diastasis, to prepare you for late-stage pregnancy, birth and being a mum… ekkkkk… The classes utilise a combination of Pilates and functional strengthening exercises, specifically designed to target the pelvic floor, deep abdominals, back and buttock muscles.

There are however a few exercises which you should avoid:

  • Hot yoga or hot pilates

  • Skydiving/ or activities performed over 6,000 feet

  • Scuba diving

  • Activities with a high risk of falling or getting hit in the stomach – surfing, gymnastics, off-road cycling, water skiing, skiing or horseback riding, netball, boxing, soccer, basketball, contact sports

I recommend asking your G.P, midwife or obstetrician on your next review, ‘do I have any medical issues, that would affect me participating in exercise?”, as there a small population where exercise is not advised.

Please read the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (ACOG) website for a more comprehensive guide on exercise during pregnancy: http://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Exercise-During-Pregnancy

Let’s get moving ladies so that shaving your legs, getting out of bed and managing that trolley which has a mind of its own continues to stay easy.

Karen Crudden
Women’s Health Physiotherapist and Pilates Practitioner