Now you’re pregnant, being active will boost your health – it’s good for your unborn baby, too. It can also help get your body ready for giving birth and being a new mum.
Staying active during pregnancy:
- helps you sleep better
- reduces your likelihood of suffering from the common complaints of pregnancy, such as varicose veins, swollen feet and tiredness.
- reduces your anxiety levels.
If you already exercised before pregnancy, it’s safe and healthy to keep it up. As your bump grows, you will probably find that you slow down naturally.
Getting active during pregnancy
If you weren’t very active before your pregnancy, don’t worry – this is a great time to start. You can build up your activity levels slowly and there are lots of small changes you can make to your lifestyle that will be good for you and your baby.
Getting active can be fun and it’s a good way to get together with friends and meet other mums-to-be.
Not sure where to start? Try our 10 tips for staying active in pregnancy.
What does ‘being active’ in pregnancy mean?
Any activity that makes you feel warm and a little bit out of breath counts towards your exercise goal.
Walking briskly, going up and down stairs and putting a bit more energy into doing the housework or gardening all count. You don’t have to do organised exercise unless you want to.
The main rule is to be as active as possible – how you do it is up to you. As well as being more active in the things you do every day, you could try swimming, dancing, jogging and suitable exercise classes.
Why is exercise good for my baby?
- Being active will reduce your likelihood of having pregnancy problems such as high blood pressure or diabetes, which means less risk for your baby.
- Women who do weight-bearing exercise (exercise where your feet and legs support your weight, such as walking, some yoga, dancing and so on) during pregnancy can have a shorter labour time with fewer complications.
Why is exercise in pregnancy good for me?
- Being active makes you feel good, reduces stress and gives you more energy.
- If you’re active, it’s easier to manage your weight during pregnancy and lose any extra weight after your baby is born.
- Being active will help you sleep better at night.
- You are less likely to suffer from the common aches and pains of pregnancy, such as varicose veins, tiredness or back pain.
- Being active helps reduce constipation, which is a common pregnancy problem.
- Exercise may help you cope with labour and delivery better.
- It can reduce levels of anxiety and depression in pregnancy.
How can exercise boost my mood?
When you’re active, your body produces hormones called endorphins. Endorphins are linked to feelings of wellbeing and may make you less likely to feel anxious and depressed.
When you’re pregnant, your body is more sensitive to endorphins, so activity can boost your mood for longer.
Is there any exercise I shouldn’t do now I’m pregnant?
Try to avoid sports where your bump could be hit, such as football, rugby, hockey and martial arts. Activities where you risk falling, like skiing or horse riding are best avoided too.
Exercise in a very hot environment, such as Bikram yoga, can cause overheating and so is not advisable.
Find out more about the exercises to avoid when you're pregnant.
What happens if I’m not very active during my pregnancy?
If you are sedentary (not active) in pregnancy you’re at risk of putting on too much weight.
Keeping cool when exercising
To avoid overheating:
- Give the sauna and steam room a miss
- Avoid exercising in very hot temperatures
- Drink enough water or other fluids
- Give yourself a few days to get used to the temperature if you’re spending time in a hot climate and you’re not used to it.