Pregnancy Exercise Guidelines

There are many factors to consider when exercising during pregnancy. These include:

• Your pre pregnancy fitness.
• Previous exercise activities.
• Your current health.
• How far along you are in your pregnancy.
• The climate where you are exercising and your choice of exercise program.

The following guidelines will help you to consider your exercise choices for during your pregnancy, and outlines the most important factors to consider. It includes suggestions for suitable exercise during pregnancy and some precautions to consider.

Pregnancy Exercise Guidelines

Note:

Check with your Doctor or Obstetrician if you have any questions about your exercise program, or before you start any new exercise program.

For further advice, speak to your Fitness Instructor or Physiotherapist with a special interest in Women's Health.

0 - 3 months

  • Continue with usual exercise program or can commence a low impact exercise program.

  •  Walking, swimming, gym programs, cycling, low impact aerobics, water aerobics are all suitable choices.

  •  Seek advice on intensity levels.

  • Cease abdominal curl ups or sit ups.

  • Start pelvic floor muscle and pregnancy abdominal muscle bracing exercises. Check and consider: "are you really doing them properly?"

Check pelvic floor muscle fitness and record "baseline measurements"in As Your Shape Changes. *

3-6 months

  • Walking, swimming, gym programs, cycling.

  • Maintain or modify existing exercise - comfort levels important.

  • Reduce intensity levels.

  • Maintain or reduce weights - do not hold your breath.

  • Pregnancy back stretches, pelvic floor and abdominal bracing exercises.

  • Cease exercises involving lying on back from 16 weeks.

  • Consider flexibility, stretching and squatting exercises to prepare for the birth.

  • Can attend low impact, water or pregnancy exercise classes.

    Check for any abdominal muscle separation and record in As Your Shape Changes. *

        Check pelvic floor muscle fitness and record in As Your Shape Changes.*

6-9 months

  • Continue according to comfort levels.

  • Can attend low impact, water or pregnancy exercise classes.

    Check pelvic floor muscle fitness and abdominal muscle separation and record in As Your Shape Changes.*
     

To learn more about your pelvic floor, use the Preparing Your Pelvic Floor For Birth and Recovery Course

 * To record your pregnancy fitness use "As Your Shape Changes, your personal body booklet for Pregnancy and Beyond".

Some Precautions to Consider

  • Avoid Overheating

    • Do not exercise in high temperatures or high humidity

    • Position yourself near the airconditioner/fan in aerobics classes

    • Drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise to stay well hydrated

    • Don't exercise when you are unwell

    • Avoid spas, saunas, hot baths and overheated pools

  • Eat some carbohydrates 1-2 hours before exercise and carry some fruit juice with you when you exercise.

  • Stop exercising and seek advice if you experience any of the following:

    • Dizziness, faintness, headaches, blurred vision, nausea or vomiting

    • Any kind of pain or numbness

    • Discomfort or excess fatigue after you have exercised

    • Vaginal bleeding, contractions, leaking of amniotic fluid, or reduced movements of your baby

  • Continuing with contact sport is not advisable during your pregnancy.

  • When exercising, warm ups and cool downs should be longer than normal to help prepare your body for exercise and to prevent blood pooling in your legs or leg cramps.

  • Avoid suddenly stopping while exercising as this can cause low blood pressure, light headedness or fainting.

          Pregnancy Pelvic Floor Exercises

 

Extract from "Considerations for Pregnancy and Post Natal Exercise" pamphlet, developed by Dianne Edmonds, Project Officer - Physiotherapist, during the Pregnancy and Post Natal Health and Exercise Project, 1999, Eastern Goldfields Medical Division of General Practice. Reprinted with permission.
 

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