Incorporating exercise into your pregnancy 1 June 2013 Exercising during pregnancy has many benefits such as: More energy Better sleep Stronger back muscles which can help manage back pain Improved posture Weight control Stress relief and improved mood Can help prevent and manage gestational diabetes Better ability to cope with the physical demands of labour Faster recovery after giving birth Faster return to pre-pregnancy fitness and healthy weight Increased ability to cope with the physical demands of motherhood Changes to your body and impact on exercise During pregnancy you will experience many physical changes to your body which you will need to think about when exercising. Increase in body weight – as pregnancy weight increases, the body’s centre of gravity moves forward and the curve of the spine increases. This can change your balance and co-ordination. Loosening of ligaments – hormones loosen the ligaments attached to joints mainly in the pelvis to prepare for birth. This can increase the risk of injury when exercising. Changes in resting heart rate, blood volume and blood pressure – these are normal changes that are designed to meet the needs of the growing foetus but they can cause you to be dizzy and/or faint. How much exercise is safe? Generally, women can continue their previous exercise program if they do not experience any problems throughout their pregnancy.have a pregnancy without problems. Fatigue and feeling uncomfortable usually causes women to slow down. It is also now known that starting an exercise program during pregnancy is safe but always check with your doctor first. The Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion Sscale is a way of measuring physical activity intensity levels. The scale reflects how heavy and strenuous the exercise feels to you and ranges from 6 (no exertion at all) to 20 (maximal exertion). Moderate exercise, which is considered a rating of 12â€“14 on the Borg’s Rating Scale (below), is safe throughout pregnancy. Moderate to hard exercise is quite safe for women who usually do this level of exercise; however during the third trimester, it is advised pregnant women do no more than three sessions per week of vigorous exercise. When should a pregnant woman not exercise? Exercise during pregnancy is not advised in a number ofif experiencing conditions such as including heart disease, severe hypertension (very high blood pressure), risk of premature labour (especially for multiple pregnancies), fetalfoetal (baby) growth problems, pre-eclampsia or shortening of the cervix. Consult your doctor if you are not sure about the amount of exercise that is safe for you. Exercise should be stopped if any abnormal symptoms occur during or after pregnancy such as: Dizziness Headache Contractions Vaginal bleeding Amniotic fluid leakage Nausea Shortness of breath Faintness Back or pelvic pain Changes in your baby’s movements Sudden swelling of calves, ankles, hands and face What exercises are recommended for pregnancy? Women can participate in a range of different exercises including; walking, jogging, low-impact aerobics, stationary cycling, swimming and water aerobics. Other recommended exercises are yoga, dancing and pregnancy fitness classes. Are there exercises that a pregnant woman should avoid? Women are advised to avoid that high risk sports that may result in a fall e.g. rollerblading, trampolining, downhill skiing or horse riding. Women should also be careful when doing exercise which requires straining, such as heavy weightlifting, bouncing, excessive twisting or turning. Also women who are more than four months pregnant should be careful when lying on their back as this position can slow the return of the blood flow to the heart and that side-lying is safer. Activities which involve exposure to extremes of air pressure e.g. scuba diving and activities at high altitude and sitting in a sauna or spa are not recommended. Participation in contact sports such as netball and basketball should be discussed with a doctor -. Yyou will need to discuss the type of sport, your playing history and stage of your pregnancy. Tips for exercising in pregnancy: Prepare your body for exercise by warming up and cooling down Prevent dehydration -, drink water before, during and after exercise Wear loose-fitting clothing Avoid high humidity and exercising in the heat to prevent heat stress Stay safe when walking. Go with a friend, chose a suitable time of the day and a safe place to walk. Take your phone with you. If you are taking insulin, test your blood glucose before exercising. Check with your diabetes team what your levels should be prior to exercise. You may need to eat some carbohydrate before starting. You should also carry hypo treatment with you. When can I start exercising again after the baby is born? Women who have had a caesarean section are advised to wait six weeks before returning to exercise to allow the wound to heal. After a vaginal delivery, gentle walking, pelvic floor and abdominal exercises can be commenced when comfortable. If you are pregnant, you should discuss your exercise plan with your doctor before commencing or continuing an exercise program.