Exercise during pregnancy - a guide

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Whether you are a yoga geek, a gym bunny or a couch potato (or anywhere in between), once you find yourself pregnant it can be hard to know what kind of exercise you should, and shouldn't be doing. Some stuff is great - pregnancy yoga, swimming. Some not advised - contact martial arts, skiiing. Here's a lovely quick guide for you.

Exercise when trying to conceive

If you are trying to get pregnant, you may be wondering if it is okay to keep exercising (or to start). In a word, yes! In fact, researchers have found that people (men and women) who exercise moderately have higher fertility rates than those who don’t. Vigorous exercise can decrease a woman’s fertility, however, so be careful to make sure you’re not going too hard during this phase of your life. Also if you are going through assisted conception procedures like IVF always speak to your doctor about what type of exercise to do, and not to do at this time.

Exercise in pregnancy

So why is exercising before and during pregnancy such a good idea? Well because it does all this good stuff:

  • Helps you maintain healthy weight gain throughout your pregnancy
  • Can decrease your stress level
  • Gives you more energy and improves your mood
  • Allows you to sleep better (which becomes harder as your pregnancy progresses)
  • Can help relieve some of the not-so-pleasant pregnancy symptoms (like backaches and constipation)
  • Prepares your body for birth
  • Can improve your long term health, as well as your baby’s

Pregnancy yoga, swimming and walking are all great ways to stay active while trying to conceive and throughout pregnancy.

There are some general guidelines to follow:

  • If you exercised before your pregnancy, it’s probably fine to keep on doing it. If you are new to exercise (PS. good on you for wanting to start now), make sure to ease into it gradually. This is not the time to start training for your first 5k!
  • Listen to you body. If you start to feel lightheaded, dizzy, crampy, overly tired, or have any vagina bleeding, stop right away and call your doctor or midwife.
  • Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. And eat lots of nutritious foods.

And some things to avoid in pregnancy:

  • Contact sports, or activities where falling is a likely (such as skiing).
  • Exercising in excessive heat (no hot yoga, please)
  • Activities that include a lot of bouncing, twisting, and jumping
  • Lying flat on your back for long periods
  • Holding your breath for a long time
  • Exercising with the goal of losing weight

Please make sure you discuss any exercise plans with your midwife or doctor before you get started. As your pregnancy progresses, certain conditions may arise that would require you to stop exercising for the time being, so be sure to keep asking questions if you’re unsure. And I'd recommend you read these full guidelines too - You can find the full RCOG (Royal Society Of Gynecologists guidelines via this link

And you can always check out Yoga For Modern Life Youtube channel for pregnancy yoga videos (see the special 'Pregnancy' playlist) or come to a Yoga For Modern Life pregnancy yoga class in York and meet and connect with other lovely mums to be whilst enjoying all these benefits and more.