Being physically active during pregnancy can be helpful by ensuring the woman doesn’t gain too much weight, improving bowel function (less constipation) and relieving back ache. It can also reduce the risk of gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia and caesarian birth.
Pregnant women should do at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity every week, just like the general population. Aerobic activities such as brisk walking and swimming are recommended, whereas contact sports (e.g. soccer) and activities with a risk of falling (e.g. downhill skiing) should be avoided.
Yoga and pilates are particularly indicated for pregnancy, but avoid classes given in a very warm room (hot yoga).
Pregnancy can be a good opportunity for sedentary women to start exercising again, but make sure to get your physician’s approval before you start. Afterwards, look for an activity that suits your lifestyle and integrate it gradually into your daily routine.
In the following cases, exercise should be suspended in order not to compromise pregnancy:
- Multiple pregnancy with a risk of preterm labour
- Cervical cerclage or incompetence
- Pre-eclampsia or high blood pressure
- Severe anemia
- Placenta prævia
When exercising, be watchful for any warning signs. If you become dizzy or lose consciousness, are out of breath before making any significant effort, or have chest pains, unexplained pain or swelling of the calf, stop the activity and contact your doctor. The same applies if your exercise triggers any loss of liquid, vaginal bleeding, or regular painful uterine contractions.
In most cases, pregnancy does not entail a major risk for being physically active. However, it’s important to listen to your body and adapt your choice of activity (and its intensity) gradually as your body changes. If you have any concerns or questions, don’t hesitate to speak to your physician or pharmacist.