In short, the answer is yes, all women determined to have a low-risk pregnancy should exercise during pregnancy however there are some things to bear in mind.
Many women are fearful of exercising during pregnancy due to the belief it may increase the risk of miscarriage. There is currently no evidence to support this in low-risk pregnancy’s, contrary there is evidence that exercise reduces complication during pregnancy and helps foetal development. Even women that have not really exercised before can start to be more active during pregnancy, starting at a low level and building up their exercise during their pregnancy.
General guidelines are that you should exercise for about 150 minutes per week at a moderate intensity across a minimum of three days a week. However, it is perfectly safe and reasonable to take part in activity on a daily basis. The type of exercise use you do is also important.
You need to get a good mix of both aerobic and resistance exercises such as walking, swimming or even jogging for your aerobic exercise. It is quite safe for you and your baby to exercise up to a perceived exertion level of 80% of your max or a heart rate of approximately 145-165 bpm. Pilates, yoga or weightlifting in the gym (resistance exercise) to help build your strength is also recommended. A pregnancy Pilates class would be best, especially a class that focuses on pelvic floor exercises as doing these prior to giving birth can help reduce the risk of postnatal urinary incontinence and prolapse.
We know that exercise during pregnancy has many other benefits. It’s great for weight management. This may sound odd as you will inevitably gain weight during pregnancy, but exercise can help you manage how much body fat you accumulate. Adding too much fat during pregnancy is detrimental to your health and may lead to retaining more fat after giving birth. We know that exercise helps reduce stress and helps with mood and it also reduces the risk of gestational diabetes, hypertension and pre-eclampsia.
There is also evidence that maintaining health and exercise during pregnancy reduces the risk of pre-term, prolonged and acute c-section delivery. If you need to discuss your exercise levels during your pregnancy including pre-natal Pilates please contact us for more information.