When to stop exercising in pregnancy

If you're having a normal pregnancy you are safe to stay active comfortably right up to the end of your pregnancy.

If you have a specific condition in pregnancy, however, you may need to ask your healthcare team. Your doctor or midwife will tell you if you should limit the amount of exercise you do, and they will explain why.

Talk to your doctor or midwife if you have any worries about aches, pains or other issues. Generally, you should stop exercising immediately if you feel unwell or are in pain. Listen to your body and always tell your midwife or doctor if you’re worried about any pain or discomfort.

What are the warning signs to watch out for?

Whatever activity you’re doing and whatever stage of your pregnancy you’re at, stop at once if:

  • you’re having trouble catching your breath
  • you feel dizzy
  • you have chest pain
  • your heart is beating in an irregular way (palpitations)
  • you can feel tightenings in your tummy
  • your waters (the liquid around your baby) are leaking
  • you have any bleeding from your vagina
  • you feel pain around your tummy or pelvis
  • you are exhausted
  • you have a bad headache
  • your muscles feel weak
  • you have a pain or swelling in the lower part of your leg
  • your baby isn’t moving as much as usual.

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

Don’t start exercising if…

  • You’re having lots of Braxton Hicks ‘practice’ contractions.
  • It’s very hot.
  • You have spotting of blood.
  • You have a deep pain in your pelvis.

Contact your doctor or midwife if you’re having spotting or deep pelvic pain.

Don’t overdo it!

Avoid pushing yourself too hard as this can make you overheat, which is not good for your baby. You should aim to work hard enough so that you breathe more deeply and your heart beats faster, but not so hard that you can’t hold a conversation or are gasping for breath.

If you’re doing an exercise class or working out in the gym, tell the teacher or gym instructor you’re pregnant and ask their advice about checking your heart rate.

Heart rate to aim for when doing aerobic exercise in pregnancy

Your age Heart rate (beats/minute)
Less than 20 years 140-155
20-29 years 135-150
30-39 years 130-145
Over 40 years 125-140

Eat right for exercise in pregnancy

It’s important to eat well during your pregnancy to provide energy for you and your baby.

Read more

Sources

  1. RCOG (2006) Recreational Exercise and Pregnancy: Information for you, London, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists: https://www.rcog.org.uk/globalassets/documents/patients/patient-information-leaflets/pregnancy/recreational-exercise-and-pregnancy.pdf 
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Last reviewed on February 1st, 2015. Next review date February 1st, 2018.

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