Yes! Pregnancy is an exciting time but many mums-to-be are unsure about how to exercise or what they can do safety during pregnancy. There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that most women are too inactive during their pregnancy with less than 30% exercising in accordance with guidelines.

Exercise is very important during pregnancy for both your and your baby: it helps to keep your body strong, prevent the risk of gestational diabetes, control excessive weight gain, improve your pelvic floor, speed up recovery after birth and reduce the risk of pregnancy-related conditions such as pre-eclampsia and pregnancy-induced hypertension … Just to mention a few of the benefits!

If you have not exercised prior to pregnancy then it is recommended to get started and begin with lower intensity activities such as walking, swimming (or pilates) and then build up towards completing 150 minutes of moderate activity per week (30 minutes most days). If you have been active prior to your pregnancy then you can continue for as long as your comfortable to do so.

Top Tips for Keeping in Tip Top Shape during Pregnancy

Pelvic Floor

While you may have never thought about these muscles before it is very important to have a strong and well functioning pelvic floor. These great little muscles help to maintain continence and good pelvic posture. They run as a muscular sling from your pubic bone at the front to your coccyx bone at the back and help to support your pelvic/abdominal contents, including your growing baby!

Read more information about these muscles and how to activate them properly.

Cardio Exercise and Running

Pregnancy ExercisesCardiovascular Exercise is especially important during pregnancy to control gestational diabetes, control excessive weight gain (around 10-12kg is normal) and maintain a healthy heart and lungs for you and your baby.

If you haven’t exercised much before start gentling and gradually increase your activity – walking with a friend is a great way to get going. If you can continue to walk and talk this is nice way to ensure you aren’t starting off too fast!

If you are already a keen runner then you can continue to keep jogging during your pregnancy as long as it continues to feel comfortable. Many women continue jogging into their second and third trimesters but stop when it starts to get uncomfortable around their tummy, pelvis or back.

When exercising for cardiovascular fitness reduce your intensity by 25-30%, keep your heart rate below 140-150 and avoid elevating your body temperature too much.

Core Strengthening

Strong activated deep abdominal muscles help to maintain good posture, relieve back pain and speed up recovery after birth.

During pregnancy a number of factors can make you more prone to lower back pain including weight changes, ligaments becoming more flexible and different forces are placed upon the joints in your body.

Strengthening your core provides stability a little like creating your body’s own corset to give you strength and control around your middle. In addition, strong deep abdominals can help reduce the impact of rectus diastasis or DRAM during and after pregnancy. Rectus diastasis is the separation in the connective tissue of your abdominal muscles caused as your baby grows and stretches these muscles and occurs in around 2 out of 3 pregnancies.

Things to avoid when working on your core include lying on your back as this can cause you to feel lightheaded as your baby grows and avoiding strong abdominal work past around 20 weeks.

Video: Try this exercise in Four Point Kneeling to start challenging your core stability and deep abdominal muscles.

Pregnancy Exercises

Lower Limb strengthening

Hormone and body shapes changes during pregnancy commonly cause pelvic or sacroiliac joint pain and the right strengthening and activation exercises can help to strengthen the glut muscles and give these pelvic joints support.

In combination with your core stability work, strengthening through the gluteus medius muscle can help to provide stability to the pelvis, avoid a waddling gait and reduce pain in the area.

Video: Try this Clam exercise to activate your glut med to start strengthening your gluts.

Pregnancy exercising

Many mums-to-be also complain leg cramps, restless legs, fatigued legs, varicose veins and fluid retention. Leg strengthening exercises such a body weight squat can help to reduce these side effects as well as keeping your legs strong and in great shape during your pregnancy.

Video: Try a body weight squat.

Upper Body strengthening

Last but not least is your upper body, shoulder and arm strength.

Having a baby means that in the next few months you need to be strong enough to lift your beautiful baby in and out of their cot, hold them while feeding and carry around numerous nappies, the baby capsule, baby wipes and the rest!

Improving your strength in this area will reduce the risk of overuse injuries in your shoulders and elbows, avoid upper back strain and help you focus on the most important job at hand.

Completing some simple resistance work for your shoulders using pilates equipment, free weights, therabands or your own body weight is a great way get started on your strong baby lifting arms!

Wall Squat
Pregnancy exercises
Viva Physiotherapy offers pregnancy specific clinical Pilates classes three times per week and clinical Pilates classes over 15 times per week. Please contact reception to book in for your introduction Pilates session, including real-time ultrasound assessment. Don’t forget to download and complete your pregnancy screening form prior to your appointment.

Note: We suggest getting clearance from your doctor before beginning or changing your exercise regime, especially if you have any other co-morbidities or complications with your pregnancy.