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Prenatal and Postnatal Exercise

Pre/Post Birth Exercising - Parenting Central Australia
Prenatal and Postnatal Exercise
Is it safe to exercise in pregnancy?

With prenatal and postnatal exercise it is safe to maintain your current fitness level, you may need to reduce the intensity of your workouts and exercise and it is essential to talk to your doctor for guidance on your personal health and fitness, this is only intended as a general guide.

What kind of exercise is recommended during pregnancy?
  • Low impact exercises – walking, swimming/hydrotherapy, Pilates, yoga (avoid over stretching)
What risks should I be aware of?
  • There are theoretical concerns with excessive workouts (>3 per week) for the foetus and mother including risk of overheating, impairment of oxygen and nutrient delivery to the foetus and possible risk of premature labour.
  • Excessive exercise may have an effect on birth weight – this is particularly important in the third trimester, were some studies have found pregnant women who exercise more than 3 times a week deliver significantly smaller babies. Recommendation exercising 3 or fewer times per week.
  • Avoid contact sports and sports or activities where you may be struck in the abdomen – ball sports, surfing, contact sports.
  • Be mindful of the loosening of ligaments – joints gradually loosen to prepare for birth, particularly the pelvic floor. As a result excessive stretching exercises may increase the risk of injury.
  • Overheating and dehydration – it’s not recommended to exercise in the heat of the day and remember to stay hydrated while exercising and throughout the day (even when swimming)
  • However if you are careful and listen to your body and your health care providers the risks to you and your baby can be minimal.
What are the benefits to exercising during pregnancy?
  • Maintaining general fitness can help with continued mobility later in pregnancy.
  • Preparation for birthing – you are leading up to one of the hardest physical activity a person can undertake, it may help you with birthing, particularly as often it is ideal to remain upright and active throughout labour and delivery to utilise gravity, to maintain fitness and strength particularly core strength.
  • Exercise also helps prevent the onset of gestational diabetes (GDM) and is certainly an important part of the management plan should GDM occur.
  • Maintaining fitness may help to reduce weight gain.
How much exercise is considered safe?
  • No more than 3 times a week at a moderate intensity using Borg’s rate of perceived exertion.
When to stop exercising?
  • Exercise should be stopped if any abnormal symptoms occur such as pain, contractions, vaginal bleeding, dizziness or unusual shortness of breath. If symptoms persist see your health care provider immediately.
When can I resume exercise after my baby is born?
  • After a normal vaginal delivery, gentle exercise including pelvic floor, abdominal exercises and walking can be commenced when comfortable with more intense exercise commencing at the 6 week to allow for some resolution of the pregnancy.
  • After caesarean section, six weeks is the recommended time to return to gentle exercise if the wound is well healed.

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