It’s tempting to just put your feet up while you’re pregnant. But if you have an uncomplicated pregnancy it’s also important to stay active as much as you can.
Some women worry, about exercising when they're pregnant, but there's no need. Exercise is not dangerous for you baby. In fact, there are lots of benefits and you don’t have to be at your fittest to feel them. Even gentle exercise such as walking or swimming will help prepare your body for the challenges of pregnancy, labour and being a mum.
If you weren't very active before your pregnancy, don't worry. There are lots of small changes you can make that will make a big difference to your and your baby’s health.
Physical activity doesn’t have to mean an exercise class or gym session if that’s not what you’re in to. Any activity you can do as part of your daily routine can help. This could mean taking the stairs instead of the lift at work, doing housework or walking to the shops.
"As an older mum of 4 I tried to keep as active as possible as I know that it helps with labour. When I went out and stretched my legs for 15-30 minutes, it really lifted my mood and made me feel positive and motivated!"
How active should I be?
If you have always been active, continuing to exercise at the same level during pregnancy is safe and healthy for most women.
Don’t suddenly start doing vigorous exercise if you’re not used to it. Start by doing no more than 15 minutes of continuous exercise 3 times a week. Increase this gradually to at least 4 30-minute sessions a week. This can be as easy as going for a walk for 30 minutes.
Just keep moving
Most pregnant women have times when they feel very tired but being active can give energy rather than taking it away. You may find that going on a short five-minute walk can give you more energy and allow you to walk a little further.
What are the benefits of being active in pregnancy?
Being active regularly is great for you and your baby in lots of ways. It will:
- make you feel good and give you more energy
- help you to sleep better
- make you less likely to have aches and pains
- help you and your baby during labour and birth
- help reduce your risk of some pregnancy problems, including constipation
- make you less likely to put on extra weight during the pregnancy
- help you manage any anxiety and depression. Find out more about your mental health in pregnancy.
Is it safe to exercise now I'm pregnant?
Yes, if you are having a normal uncomplicated pregnancy it is safe to exercise. There are some situations that mean you need to take care about being active. If you have any serious medical conditions or health problems, or if you've had problems during a previous pregnancy, talk to your doctor or midwife about what activities are safe for you. If you have any bleeding from your vagina, you should also get advice before exercising.
Find out more about when to be careful about being active in pregnancy.
Top tips for being active in pregnancy
- Wear shoes that support your ankles, which can twist more easily in pregnancy. Low heels or no heels are best, and avoid high heels altogether.
- Wear a good supportive bra.
- Dress in loose, comfortable clothing as this will stop you getting too hot.
- Drink plenty of water, especially when it's warm. Have a glass of water before you start and take a bottle of water with you.
- On hot days, go out walking in the early morning or evening when it's cooler.
- If it's raining, plan some indoor activities, such as our easy pregnancy workout.
Yoga is a great way to stay active and look after your wellbeing during and after pregnancy. There are some brilliant tutorials you can access online, just make sure they are specialised for pregnancy. The Yoga Midwife takes us through some simple poses to get you started.
We are all trying to cope with changes to our routine, including how we eat and exercise to look after ourselves. The important thing is trying to be as active as you can, without comparing yourself to others.
Pregnancy-safe, at-home workouts with no equipment needed! We asked Charlie, founder of Bumps and Burpees and personal trainer qualified in pre & post natal training to provide some simple exercises to do at home.
NHS Choices. Exercise in pregnancy. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pregnancy-exercise/ (Page last reviewed: 14/01/2017. Next review due: 14/01/2020)
NICE Guidelines (2010) Weight management before, during and after pregnancy National Institute for Health and Care Excellence https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ph27
ℹLast reviewed on November 2nd, 2018. Next review date November 2nd, 2021.