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Exercise & Pregnancy

Find out how to stay active and healthy during your pregnancy.

two pregnant women walking 

Exercise in Pregnancy

Below are some common questions women have about exercise and pregnancy:

Can I exercise while I am pregnant?

Yes, you can continue or start an exercise program while you are pregnant. This doesn’t mean that you need to join a gym or buy lots of expensive equipment. You can walk, swim, cycle, or find something that you like to do that gets your body moving and heart working.

How can exercise benefit me?

Exercise can help you feel better during some of the changes that happen to your body during pregnancy. Some of the benefits of regular exercise are:

  • Improves your posture and helps reduce back pain.
  • Decreases leg cramps.
  • Reduces constipation.
  • Helps you to feel more energetic.
  • Improves your overall mood.

What do I need to consider while pregnant?

  • Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after exercise.
  • Wear layers of clothes and take them off as you get warmer (avoid overheating).
  • Wear comfortable shoes. Wear a good support bra.
  • Try to do some type of exercise at least three to five times per week.
  • Do Kegel exercises every day.

Is exercise safe for my baby?

Research tells us that moderate exercise is safe in a normal healthy pregnancy, even if you did not exercise before you were pregnant. You need to check with your doctor or midwife before you begin any exercise program. Talking with your doctor or midwife gives them more information about how you are taking care of yourself and your baby and will help you to feel more confident about exercising.

What kind of exercise should I do?

In order to get the best benefits for you and your baby, exercise that gets your heart beating faster (cardiovascular exercise) is the best. This can include walking, swimming, cycling, fitness classes (look for a prenatal exercise program in your community), or anything that gets your heart rate up. Exercise Basics and Walking Workout are two examples of the types of exercises you can do.

How hard should I be exercising?

You don’t have to go really fast to get the health benefits. A good way to monitor how hard you are exercising is to use the “talk test.” Say two sentences out loud while exercising. If you can do this without being short of breath, then you are in the right range.

How long should I be exercising?

Start out with 15 minutes per day. This can be increased to 30 minutes per day when you feel comfortable. As a general rule, try to exercise at least three times per week to get the maximum benefits for you and your baby.

Kegel Exercises

What are Kegel exercises?

Kegel exercises help strengthen your pelvic floor. This is the part of your body that is directly supporting the extra weight of your baby.  Kegels are important because they:

  • Can help prevent urine leaks when laughing, sneezing or lifting.
  • Help support your pelvic organs.
  • Are an important part of your core muscle strength.

Kegel exercises are very important for both pregnant and postpartum women.  

  • involve contracting and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles in a regular and controlled fashion – similar to stopping and starting the flow of urine.
  • help strengthen the pelvic floor when they contract and lift the delivery canal.
  • ensure healthy vaginal tissue and assists with urinary control while pregnant, during delivery and postpartum.

Points to remember:

  • the pelvic floor contraction (Kegel) is made up of three parts: the urethral, vaginal and anal contraction. When tightening the pelvic floor (kegel) the vaginal canal and anal area is contracted along with the entire pelvic floor.
  • practicing the release of the pelvic floor muscles may assist with the function of the large intestine and defecation which may help to prevent the constipation that can plague many pregnant women.
  • it is as important to perform the release or relaxation phase as it is to perform the muscle contraction. when you first contract you will engage the entire pelvic floor and surrounding area, but you must learn to relax your pelvic floor during a contraction when in labour.
  • contractions in labor are a tightening of the uterus that may cause a general contraction of the entire abdominal region. The contracting uterus helps to push the baby down in the final phase of labor, but if the pelvic floor is tightened this may hinder the progression of labor.
  • you should incorporate Kegels into your cool-down routine to ensure they are not forgotten.
  • sitting on an exercise ball, Sissel disc, foam roll or rolled towel will give you an unstable base of support and make the exercises more challenging.
  • remember that the quality of these exercises, not the quantity, is most important.
Do not practice Kegels while urinating as this may lead to a bladder infection.
FAQs about Exercise

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