If any of the situations listed below apply to you, it’s important to ask your doctor or midwife for advice about how active you should be during your pregnancy. They’ll also be able to tell you what kind of exercise is okay for you and your baby.
Exercise, pregnancy and…
If you have any serious medical conditions or health problems, have a chat about being active during your pregnancy with your GP or specialist. Serious problems include heart or lung disease, epilepsy, diabetes that is not well controlled and anaemia.
If you have any bleeding from your vagina during your pregnancy, you should see your midwife or doctor as soon as possible. If you have had bleeding after 12 weeks of pregnancy, ask your doctor’s advice about how best to keep active.
…blood pressure problems
If you have problems with your blood pressure, talk to your midwife or doctor about whether you should stay active. It is likely to depend on the severity of your symptoms.
Studies have shown that exercise in itself is not a cause of preterm birth. However, if you have been told you are at risk of going into labour early, talk to your midwife or doctor about how much activity is safe for you and your baby.
…a low-lying placenta (placenta praevia)
In most cases the placenta moves upwards as the womb grows. For some women, however, the placenta may continue to lie in the lower part of the womb after 20 weeks.
If this is the case for you, talk to your midwife or doctor about how much activity is safe for you and your baby. A placenta in this position is called placenta praevia and may mean you need to take extra care.
…cervical insufficiency (weak cervix or cervical weakness)
The cervix is the ‘neck’ of the womb. When a normal pregnancy reaches full term, the cervix begins to dilate (open) and efface (shorten) to allow the baby out.
Cervical insufficiency (or cervical weakness/incompetent cervix) is the term for when this happens early without labour or contractions in the second trimester. It can lead to your waters breaking and late miscarriage or premature birth.
If you have a weak cervix or have had a cervical stitch, talk to your doctor or midwife about staying active. You may be advised to cut down on exercise.
… symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD)
Some women develop pelvic pain in pregnancy. This is also sometimes called pelvic girdle pain (PGP). If you have SPD/PGP the amount of exercise you will be able to do will depend on how severe it is and what you’re able to do without pain.
You should avoid activities that make the pain worse. If you enjoy swimming, you may find that you can continue with it but avoid the breast stroke as the kicking movement can make the pain worse.
You could also ask your midwife about wearing a pelvic support belt.
The Association for Chartered Physiotherapists in Women’s Health (ACPWH) advises that you stay as active as possible within your pain limits.
… and diabetes
If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes or if you develop gestational diabetes, then you should take particular care when exercising.
You should have your blood glucose monitored, eat at regular times, take rest at specific times, and ensure that your baby is carefully monitored.
Keeping cool in pregnancy...
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.
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Many people find it helps to set exercise goals to help them stay fit during pregnancy.
Most types of exercise are fine even if you are overweight. Being active during your pregnancy is safe and healthy for you and your baby.
Symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) is a fairly common pregnancy condition. It is caused by the way pelvic joints move during pregnancy and the symptoms can range from mild to being so severe that crutches are needed.
Yes it is. In fact, if your pregnancy is uncomplicated, it is safer to exercise than not to as it brings down the risk of gestational diabetes and high blood pressure.
Questions about exercise in pregnancy
ℹLast reviewed on February 1st, 2015. Next review date February 1st, 2018.