Exercising During Pregnancy
Sally Perkins explains how to stay safe and healthy when exercising during pregnancy.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence both recommend women with uncomplicated pregnancies to exercise for 30 minutes at least four times a week. However, a UK survey found that 59% of women either reduced how much they were exercising or stopped altogether, often due to pregnancy symptoms or fear of miscarriage, despite no evidence to suggest this. But, what evidence does show is that exercising can result in a smoother pregnancy, delivery, and recovery, so there is no need to give up your favourite sports just yet.
Dealing with a sports injury
As a pregnant woman, you will be taking every precaution to keep yourself and your baby safe while participating in sports, but sometimes injuries can still occur. Dealing with a painful sports injury when pregnant can be difficult as there is a lot of medications that should be avoided, including the painkillers Aspirin and Ibuprofen. Low doses of Paracetamol in the short-term are okay, but dealing with pain without drugs is a better option during pregnancy. Heat pads, compression bands for joints, and sports massages can all be helpful for effectively managing pain.
The benefits of exercising during pregnancy
If you have been fit and active before being pregnant, you should continue this during pregnancy. Individual sports should be avoided, such as contact sports, but continuing the right level of exercise can help your body to better adapt to the growth you are experiencing and the many other changes. Studies have also linked being active during pregnancy to fewer problems in later pregnancy, having shorter labour, and getting back into shape afterward. However, if you do not currently participate in sports, it is probably not the best time to start. Opt for less strenuous exercise, like walking and swimming, and consider taking up a new sport once you have healed from giving birth.
Tips for exercising during pregnancy
It is always important to warm up and cool down before and after a workout, but it is even more critical during pregnancy. Ideally, avoid any strenuous exercise, particularly in hot weather. Increase your fluid and calorie intake even more than you would if you were exercising when not pregnant as your body needs it. Some women can only manage short walks, while others can continue to compete in sports they always have. This will vary between women and pregnancies, so always listen to your body and do not push yourself more than you should but try to stay active daily. If you are exercising with an instructor, make sure they know that you are pregnant and how far along you are as they can adapt exercises for you to keep you and your baby safe.
While it is crucial and beneficial to stay active during your pregnancy, particularly if you have been active beforehand, you should always listen to your body and do not do more than you feel you safely can. Make sure you increase your fluid and calorie intake to accommodate your growing body.
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About the Author
Sally Perkins is a professional freelance writer with many years' experience across many different areas. She made a move to freelancing from a stressful corporate job and loves the work-life balance it offers her. When not at work, Sally enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with her family and, travelling as much as possible.
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