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Exercising during pregnancy

Exercise is important for our physical wellbeing and our mental health. In this article, Deirdre Daly looks at exercising during pregnancy.
© Trinity College Dublin

Can I exercise during pregnancy? YES, definitely!

Unless there is a medical reason or a health problem with you or your baby, every pregnant woman can exercise safely and should exercise.

The importance of exercise

Exercise is really important for our physical wellbeing and our mental health, and it affects how we feel about ourselves and our bodies. Exercise with a friend, or join a class, if you wish. Make it fun, make it social and make it a habit!

Remember, the more active and fit you are during pregnancy, the easier it will be for you to adapt to your changing weight and shape as your baby grows. It will also help you to cope with labour and get back to your former weight and shape after birth.

Exercising while pregnant is not dangerous

Exercise is not dangerous for you or your baby, and there is some evidence that active women are less likely to experience problems in later pregnancy and labour.

Pregnant women who are healthy and well should get at least 150 minutes (two and a half hours) of moderate-intensity exercise every week: this means doing exercises and activities that increase your heart rate (such as brisk walking, easy jogging, cycling or swimming), but do not put you out of breath.

The first thing to think about is you:

  • Did you do any activities or exercises before pregnancy?
  • What type of activities or exercises did you do before your pregnancy?
  • Do you have any overall health problems or concerns that might limit the type of activities and exercises you can do?

If you are worried about your or your baby’s health, and not sure if you should exercise during pregnancy, talk to your midwife, doctor, women’s health physiotherapist or healthcare professional.

Don’t worry if you didn’t do much or any activities or exercises before pregnancy, you can start now. It is still safe to start exercising during pregnancy when you are healthy and well and have no medical or pregnancy-related health problems.

You should not experience pain while exercising

The key message for you to remember is that you should not experience pain while exercising. If you do get pain, stop exercising. Talk to your healthcare professional and seek their advice before returning to exercise.

If you didn’t do much exercise before you became pregnant, or you are finding it difficult to make exercise part of your everyday life, how can you get motivated and get started now? How can you stay motivated to keep exercising as part of a healthy life?

Try to spread activities throughout your week or over a minimum of three days each week, and begin to think about planning regular exercise.

If you’d like to learn more about the journey to birth, check out the full online course, from Trinity College Dublin, below.

© Trinity College Dublin
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Journey to birth

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