When to stop exercising in pregnancy

It is safe to stay active right up to the end of your pregnancy if you are having an uncomplicated pregnancy. But there are some things to look out for when you are exercising.
You should stop exercising straight away if you feel unwell or are in pain

Listen to your body and always tell your midwife or doctor if you are worried about any aches, pains or other issues.

If you have any health problems, you may need to take extra care when you’re exercising

Do not start exercising if:

Your doctor or midwife can give you advice on exercising safely if you have any of these issues during your pregnancy.

Warning signs

Whatever activity doing and whatever stage of your pregnancy you are at, stop straight away and see your doctor or midwife if:

  • you are having trouble catching your breath
  • you feel dizzy
  • you have chest pain
  • your heart is beating very fast or in an irregular way (palpitations)
  • you can feel regular painful tightenings in your tummy
  • your waters (the liquid around your baby) are leaking
  • you have any vaginal bleeding
  • you feel pain around your tummy
  • you feel faint
  • you have a bad headache
  • your muscles feel weak, making you lose your balance
  • you have a pain or swelling in the lower part of your leg
  • your baby is not moving as much as usual.

Feeling your baby move is a sign that they are well. If you notice that your baby’s movements have slowed down, changed or stopped, it may be a sign that your baby is not well.

Contact your midwife or maternity unit immediately if you notice any changes to your baby’s movements. This could save your baby’s life. There are staff on the hospital maternity unit 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Even if you do not have any of these symptoms, if you feel unwell, uncomfortable or just ‘not right’ and you are worried, stop exercising and talk to your doctor or midwife.

Don’t overdo it!

To check you are exercising at a safe level, try the ‘talk test’. You should aim to work hard enough so that you breathe more deeply and your heart beats faster, but not so hard that you cannot hold a conversation or are gasping for breath.

If you are doing an exercise class or working out in the gym, tell the teacher or gym instructor you are pregnant and ask their advice about exercising safely.

  1.  Gordon C (2019) Physical activity in pregnancy: practical advice for women who run. BJM. 2019; 27(4)
  2.  ACOG (2020). Physical Activity and Exercise During Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period. Committee Opinion Number 804. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists https://www.acog.org/clinical/clinical-guidance/committee-opinion/articles/2020/04/physical-activity-and-exercise-during-pregnancy-and-the-postpartum-period 
  3.  Newton ER, May L (2017) Adaptation of Maternal-Fetal Physiology to Exercise in Pregnancy: The Basis of Guidelines for Physical Activity in Pregnancy. Clin Med Insights Womens Health. 2017; 10: 1179562X17693224.
Review dates
Reviewed: 29 May 2023
Next review: 29 May 2026