SafeMotherhood
safe motherhood

LOOKING AFTER YOURSELF

EXERCISING SAFELY

COMPLEMENTARY THERAPIES
ALCOHOL, SMOKING, CAFFEINE AND CANNABIS
MEDICINES/VACCINATIONS
EXERCISING SAFELY
EATING SAFELY
ESSENTIAL VITAMINS AND MINERALS
WHAT TO EAT IN PREGNANCY
Giving up smoking
Safe exercises
Chickenpox (varicella)
TRAVEL
Back to Introduction

If you're not used to exercising, then pregnancy is a good opportunity to start, but go easy. Heart and lungs are already working at increased levels, which makes pregnancy itself a kind of aerobic exercise. Be aware of this and always 'listen to your body'.

Check your pulse regularly during exercise and slow down if it reaches 140 beats per minute. It's much better to exercise for 20 minutes every other day than three hours just on Saturdays.

Why you need to be careful

Risks to you

• Pregnancy softens your joints and ligaments, so there is an increased risk of sprains , twists and back injuries.

• Sports involving quick, jerky movement, such as squash, tennis and fast jogging, may cause problems.

• As your baby grows your centre of gravity changes and your balance may be affected. Falls may therefore be more likely.

Risks to your baby

• Impacts and falls may cause damage.

• Avoid downhill skiing, water-skiing, diving, climbing, all contact sports and fierce team games, for example, netball and hockey.

• If you get very hot, your baby will also get hot. Overheating early in pregnancy may possibly affect your baby's neural (nerve) development.

• Avoid saunas, steam baths and hot tubs. Stop exercising if you get very hot - rather than just warm. Drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise to replace lost fluids.

• Sustained, vigorous exercise may affect the blood supply to your baby by diverting blood away from the uterus to the leg muscles. If you get very breathless, the amount of oxygen in your blood is reduced, which may affect your baby's growth.

• Avoid exercising to the point of exhaustion. Take a rest every 15 minutes.

Please note

Studies are looking at the impact of very vigorous exercise on the blood supply to the baby. It would be wise to avoid vigorous exercise if you have had:

• two or more miscarriages;

• problems in previous pregnancies with the growth of your baby;

• any bleeding or high blood pressure in this pregnancy;

• twins or placenta praevia diagnosed in this pregnancy.

Ways to keep fit

Regular walking, swimming and yoga are all ideal. In addition, yoga teaches breathing and relaxation techniques, but certain asanas are not advised so make sure that your teacher knows that you are pregnant.

For further information on ways to stay fit safely during pregnancy, including exercises that will help you prepare for birth, ask your midwife, who may know of antenatal exercise classes in your area, or contact The Active Birth Centre on 020 7482 5554l.