Regular activity that gets your body moving and your heart working is an important part of a healthy pregnancy. It is safe in most pregnancies but consult with your health care provider before beginning or changing a physical activity program.
Being active during pregnancy can help you:
- Gain a healthy amount of weight.
- Lower your risk of gestational diabetes and pregnancy-induced high blood pressure.
- Feel more energetic.
- Sleep better.
- Reduce stress.
- Build strength and stamina for labour and birth.
- Recover after childbirth.
Activities you can enjoy while pregnant are walking, jogging, swimming, dancing, prenatal yoga, and cycling on a stationary bike. Being active everyday is encouraged.
- Avoid activities where you could fall (horseback riding, downhill skiing, gymnastics, mountain biking), that could cause you to be hit (hockey), that cause you to strain or hold your breath (heavy lifting), or that involve pressure changes (scuba diving, hiking above 1600 metres).
- Keep cool and avoid being active in warm environments such as hot yoga studios or outdoors when it is really warm or humid. This includes hot tubs and saunas.
- Monitor how hard you are exercising. It’s okay to be slightly out of breath, but if you can’t carry on a conversation, slow down the intensity of your activity.
- Drink water before, during, and after physical activity.
- Avoid exercising on your back after 16 weeks of pregnancy so your growing uterus doesn’t press on a major vein in your baby and decrease the flow of blood. Instead try lying on your side, sitting, or standing.
- Stop your activity and consult your health care provider if you become uncomfortable and experience pain, dizziness/faintness, and shortness of breath or other symptoms.
What if I haven’t been active before?
Gradually increase your activity from 15 minutes three times per week to 30 minutes five times a week. Listen to you body and reduce or increase activity when you feel ready.
What if I’m already active?
If you already exercise five times a week for 30 minutes, keep it up! But remember pregnancy is not the time to train for an athletic competition!
Kegel exercises strengthen the muscles of your pelvic floor, the area between the vagina and anus, which support your uterus, bladder and bowel. Daily pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy and after you give birth help prevent you from leaking urine when you cough or laugh.
How do you do Kegel Exercises?
- Do this exercise sitting, standing. or lying down.
- Relax with your knees slightly apart.
- Imagine you are trying to hold back urine or a bowel movement. Squeeze the muscles you would use to do that. Do not tighten your stomach or buttocks.
- Tighten the muscles for 5-10 seconds, continuing to breathe. Relax for 10 seconds.
- Repeat this 12 to 20 times, three to five times a day.
Prenatal Fitness (Dr. Mottolla)