Exercise During Pregnancy
To stay healthy and well, pregnant women should take regular exercise. As well as being good for your heart, breathing and muscle tone, exercise helps reduce stress levels, improve sleep and helps prevent you from getting pain around the pelvis and low back areas. Exercise can also help you manage your blood sugars, gestational diabetes and help you from putting on too much weight.
Exercising regularly, will help you get ready for labour and after your baby’s birth, will help you get back into shape.
If you are healthy and well, and have no problems with your health before or during your pregnancy, you should do 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least five days a week. You can divide this up into two 15 minute sessions if it is easier for you.
If you have medical or pregnancy problems, or are worried about your health, you should talk to your doctor, midwife or physiotherapist before exercising.
Moderate exercise means that you are doing something that is quite hard but that you can still carry on a conversation. This is known as the ‘talk test’. If you didn’t do any exercise before you got pregnant, start by doing some gentle exercise and build up to moderate exercise. Pregnancy hormones can soften your ligaments; therefore it is important to protect your joints during exercise.
We recommend that you do low impact exercises and avoid exercises with a risk of falling. Walking is a great free way to exercise. Start with a gentle warm up and finish with a cool down. Drink plenty of water and avoid getting too warm during exercising. Listen to your body and stop when you feel tired or if it hurts. Never exercise if you are feeling unwell. Wear good supportive shoes and a supportive bra and underwear when exercising.
If you go to exercise classes, make sure that your teacher knows that you are pregnant. Swimming is a great way to exercise during pregnancy and the water will support your extra pregnancy weight. If you have pain around the bones of your pelvis, it is best to avoid the breast stroke as the movements might make the pain worse. From the 16 week of your pregnancy avoid lying on your back to do exercises because you might feel faint or short of breath Always avoid doing sit-ups because it can harm your tummy muscles and lead to back pain
Pelvic Girdle Pain
Pelvic girdle pain describes pain in any of the three pelvic joints. It is common but not normal and can affect 1 in 5 women during pregnancy. There are many causes which include:
- Uneven movement of the pelvic joints
- Changes in the activity of the tummy, pelvic girdle, hip and /or pelvic floor muscles can affect the stability of the pelvic girdle
- Previous injury to the pelvis
- Hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy
- The position of the baby can cause symptoms related to pelvic girdle pain in some women
Signs and symptoms
Pain can vary from mild to severe. It may affect the symphysis pubis joint at the front of your pelvis, the groin, inner thighs or the sacroiliac joints at the back. Pain may be referred into your buttocks, hips or perineum.