Pregnancy Exercise - Important Tips

  • NOTHING should hurt! Exercise should make you feel good, gently increase your fitness and be fun. If any exercise causes pain, stop it immediately or advise the instructor if you are in a class.

  • Take care not to overheat as your body's response may be to divert blood flow from your baby and reduce the fetal heart rate. You should not exercise in high temperatures or high humidity. Choose a cooler time of the day to exercise. Always take a water bottle with you when you exercise, even in a pool ~ dehydration can still occur in water even though you don't notice it as much. If you are exercising outside, take a cold flannel in a bag to cool yourself down, and wipe your forehead and your wrists at regular intervals.

  • Exercise in a heated pool can sometimes cause a drop in blood pressure. If you feel dizzy, or short of breath, take a break on the steps and place your head down towards your knees. For the same reason, you may want to sit for about 5 minutes before you race off after a class or swimming. If you need to get out of the pool during the class to go to the toilet, make sure that you get out slowly, to allow for blood pressure changes, and take your time as you walk to the toilet.

  • Have a rest during exercise if you feel you need one. Use this time to focus on your posture or your pelvic floor. Remember to work at your own pace and do not compete if you are in a class situation. You should be able to comfortably talk while you are exercising, to ensure that you are not working too hard. Do not push through pain or fatigue.

  • It is important to take more time to warm up and cool down when you are pregnant, to 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. If you need to stop exercising, keep your feet moving to help the blood flow back to the heart.

  • Do not exercise if you are unwell or extremely fatigued.

  • Remember that pain or shortness of breath should not be felt at any time. 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 excessive fatigue after you exercise.

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

Avoid during pregnancy

  • Excessive twisting and turning activities.

  • Exercises that require you to hold your breath.

  • Asymmetrical weight bearing activities, i.e. those involving standing on one leg for a period of time as these can place excessive strain on your symphysis pubis or sacroiliac joints (the joint at the front and back of your pelvis).

  • Pushing off with one leg at a time when swimming - try to push off with both feet when you turn at the end of the pool.

  • Prolonged standing static exercises.

  • Highly choreographed exercises or those which involve sudden changes in direction.

  • Lifting your hip up to the side (hip abduction) while kneeling on your hands and knees.

  • Activities involving sudden changes in intensity.

  • Exercises which increase the curve in your lower back (your lumbar spine).

  • Prolonged bouncing as this can overstretch the pelvic floor muscles or pelvic joints

  • Be aware that during pregnancy :

    • There is increased risk of injury to the muscles and joints for the mother during pregnancy.

    • Up to 12 weeks of pregnancy the uterus (womb) is protected inside the bony pelvis. After 12 weeks as the uterus moves up out of the pelvis. There is a risk of injury to the baby with direct contact sports, and falls from horse riding or gymnastics - otherwise the risk of injury to the baby with exercise is rare.

    • Activity can produce painless contractions due to the release of the hormone norepinephrine.


Following the Pregnancy Exercise Guidelines can reduce the risk of injury.


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