Exercising while pregnant and post-natally is a common concern for mothers and should be thoughtfully tailored for each individual. Everyone’s ability to return to exercise may slightly vary depending on the method of delivery or the presence of any complications during the pregnancy.
There are many benefits to exercising while pregnant including:
• Maintain/improve general fitness
• Improve posture
• Improve co-ordination and balance
• Decreased likelihood of physical complications associated with pregnancy e.g. back pain, incontinence
• Maintain muscle length, flexibility, tone and strength• Increase stamina and endurance – assists in coping with labour
• Psychological benefits – self esteem, mood stability
• Aids postnatal recovery
• Prevention of gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, excessive weight gain
• Useful as a treatment for specific musculoskeletal problems associated with pregnancy
Although there are a great number of benefits to exercising while pregnant, there are some precautions that should be considered and monitored.
• Orthopaedic conditions
Postnatally, cardiovascular changes return to normal after 2 weeks. The changes that occur to your muscles and ligaments take 12 weeks to return to their usual state once the relaxin that is produced while pregnant stops taking effect.
In order to reduce the risk of injury and pain, careful consideration should be taken when commencing exercise post natally, and should be introduced gradually. Your physiotherapist can offer you many different styles of exercise depending on the stage of your pregnancy, pre-natal fitness levels and individual concerns.
Some of the options for introducing a gradual exercise program include:
• Clinical pilates
• Pelvic floor strengthening
• Cardiovascular training
If you have any further questions about your exercising while pregnant, or returning to exercise post natally, your physiotherapist will be able to help and guide you in the best direction for you!
To make an appointment at Aim Physiotherapy call 8331 1557
Intveld E, Cooper S and van Kessel G (2010) The effect of aquatic physiotherapy on low back pain in pregnant women. International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education 4 : 147-152 Can be found at http://scholarworks.bgsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1198&context=ijare
Melzer K, Schutz Y, Soehnchen N, Othenin-Girard V, Martinez de Tejada B, Irion O, Boulvain M and Kayser B (2010): Effects of recommended levels of physical activity on pregnancy outcomes. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 202: 266.e1-6Can be found at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20022583
Continence Foundation of Australia – www.contfound.org.au– Free call: 1800 33 00 66