Exercise during Pregnancy
Exercising during pregnancy is good for both Mother and baby
Exercising regularly during pregnancy at a moderate level can improve posture, reduce pregnancy related musculoskeletal aches and pains such as back, rib and pelvic pain. It can also help build the stamina required for labour and help aid physical recovery post delivery.
It is advised that women who have been previously physically active can continue to exercise throughout pregnancy at a moderate level. If you wish to take up exercise that you previously haven’t performed you should consult a specialist pregnancy exercise Physiotherapist or an advanced exercise instructor who has done training to safely advise on which forms of exercise are safe to commence specific to your needs.
What is Relaxin?
The hormone relaxin is essential during pregnancy to allow ligament / joint laxity so the body can adapt to the growing baby. This does however leave the body a little more vulnerable to aches and pains especially with high impact exercise as the soft tissues are less supportive of the joints leaving them less stable and at higher risk of injury than normal. Therefore women shouldn’t perform high impact exercise during pregnancy.
Relaxin also regulates the mother’s cardiovascular and renal systems to help them adapt to the pregnant mother’s body’s increased demand for oxygen and nutrients. It does this by relaxing the walls of the blood vessels. This increases their ability to transport blood around the body and to the placenta. The higher quantity of waste products are more easily transported to the kidneys where they can then be filtered and expelled.
How exercise will impact my baby?
Recent research has shown that moderate exercise during pregnancy can improve the blood supply to the placenta by increasing the efficiency of the heart’s ability to pump blood. This improved blood supply has been shown to improve the size of the placenta and hence the blood flow and nutrition to the fetus. This may reduce the risk of full term low birth weight as improved nutrition to the fetus via the placenta during gestation has been shown to improve growth and weight of the fetus.
Forms of moderate exercise include brisk walking, low impact aerobics (taken by instructor with pregnancy exercise qualification), swimming and indoor cycling. Jogging is considered safe if you are having a healthy low risk pregnancy and have previously been a regular jogger. It is advised to avoid activities where there is an increased risk of falling such as skiing, climbing or horse riding. It is recommended that moderate exercise can be performed for 30-45mins 5-7 days a week.
Exercises such as pregnancy appropriate Pilates or Yoga which improve posture, muscle tone and strength of the spine, abdominal musculature and pelvic floor are advisable to help support the weight of the growing fetus and stresses on necessary changes to posture and soft tissue tone during pregnancy.
Importantly always listen to your body and don’t exercise if tired or unwell and stop any exercise immediately which causes any pain.
If in doubt always consult a pregnancy specialist Physiotherapist, midwife or Obstetrician.