Ask the midwife: can I exercise during pregnancy?

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In our ‘Ask the midwife’ series, Natasha Cullen from Beloved Bumps answers all the big questions! This week we’re working out whether we can... work out.

The guidelines on exercise during pregnancy have changed over the years, which is probably why you didn’t see too many Beyonce-style dance routines from expecting mums back in the day. But just like the advice you read on whether or not you need a doula, what’s the best pram to buy for use in Singapore, and how to develop your baby’s language skills, the information can be confusing. So, in this third instalment of our ‘Ask the midwife’ series, we asked Natasha Cullen from Beloved Bumps:

Can I exercise during pregnancy?

Natasha says:
A few years ago, I remember telling women that we advised not to exercise during pregnancy, and just to have gentle walks! However, times have changed, and it has now been found that exercise and fitness in pregnancy has huge benefits. It can help to prevent excessive weight gain, reduce your chance of gestational diabetes, lower blood pressure and risk of pre-eclampsia, reduce the risk of depression, stress and anxiety, improve sleep quality and lead to faster labour time and post-delivery recovery.

When exercising, listen to your body – if it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. But if you were running or exercising before pregnancy then it is fine to continue with this. If, on the other hand, you weren’t doing any exercise before pregnancy, don’t start training for a marathon! But taking up swimming or walking daily will help keep you fit, fight fatigue and give you a better night’s sleep.

Pregnancy is physically demanding on your body, and can cause postural changes and muscular imbalances. Pregnancy hormones such as relaxin reduce joint stability, especially in the pelvic region. As your uterus and baby grow, they weaken your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles, pushing down on your lower spine and possibly causing back pain. It is a great idea to sign up to prenatal exercise classes that can teach you specific exercises that are safe in pregnancy – in pregnancy it is important to strengthen your abdominals and entire core, including your pelvic floor.

There are some exercises that are not advised during pregnancy, such as those involving balance (like skiing), or contact (like rugby). And if you start to feel unwell, or have any bleeding, chest pain, reduced movements from baby, or contractions, then stop exercising, rest, and contact your doctor.

Stay tuned for the next instalment of ‘Ask the midwife’, coming soon!

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