For the most part, life goes on as normal during pregnancy, including being active. There are a few exceptions and a few things to think about. Dr Joe Kosterich talks about common sense, types of exercises to avoid or continue, and the importance of staying active during pregnancy.

In today’s video we’re going to be talking about exercise and pregnancy.

The first important thing to recognise is that pregnancy is a normal part of life and, to a very large degree, life just goes on as normal. Now, that means continuing to be active and exercise, which is a part of everyday life can pretty much go on as normal.

Now, there are a few exceptions and a few specific things to think about. Obviously by the time you are about 38 weeks you may not feel like going for as long a run as perhaps when you’re only 6 or 7 weeks pregnant. So, a big part of what we’re going to be talking about today, in some respects, is common sense.

In the early stages of pregnancy most normal exercises can pretty much be continued as normal. The main exception is you don’t want to be doing anything that really puts a lot of pressure on the abdomen so it’s not the time to take up weight lifting. It may sound silly but as I said on the outset it’s pretty much common sense. Again, it’s probably not the time to be going out and trying to haul out tree stumps. So, any activity that really puts maximum strain or pressure on the abdomen is not something to do, but cardio exercises, such as walking, jogging, swimming is quite ok. Most sports, tennis, golf, anything like that is going to be ok. Some years ago there was a little bit of controversy about netball and pregnancy but, again, in the early stages there’s no real issue.

Think about years gone by, up until the last 50 or 60 years, when you were pregnant everything just went on as normal, and in many parts of the world it still does. In a lot of countries women have to keep working, out in fields, and doing things that perhaps in the western countries we’re fortunate we don’t have to do, whilst they’re pregnant. So, none of us would be here today if simple activity were a major threat to pregnancy – it isn’t.

With resistance exercises, can you do some weights? Yes, light weights are fine. You don’t want to be doing really heavy weights, and multiple repetitions are good. You can exercise the legs and of course the upper body as well. Stretching type exercises are good, particularly for the back. For a lot of women, later in pregnancy, they can get some back soreness so back exercises are good in early pregnancy to strengthen up the back muscles and that also helps you with your posture.

Up until 13 weeks the uterus is still fairly small and basically fully within the pelvic cavity, so it’s almost completely protected by bone. Again, that gives a lot of protection for even exercises where you may be lying on your tummy in those early stages of pregnancy.

Now, the further pregnancy goes the less often one feels like doing major strenuous exercise. It’s fairly unlikely that when you’re 35 weeks pregnant you want to go and want to run a half marathon. That’s, as we said earlier, pretty much common sense. Can you still do some walking or some swimming? Yes. You can even be doing walking through water. It really is important to be doing some exercise that’s good for your system and it’s also good for the baby.

Again, towards the last few weeks you may not be doing that much and, again, that is the time to be resting up and gathering up your strength for what’s coming next.

So, to summarise, pregnancy: very normal part of life. Exercise: also, very normal part of life. The 2 are quite compatible and go together quite well. Keep yourself active, keep yourself fit: some basic cardio, whatever type of exercise you like, some basic resistance and stretching exercises and you can watch the separate videos on all of those topics.  As I said, except for the last so many weeks, and obviously according to your own particular circumstances, keep active, keep doing some regular type exercise. It’ll be good for you and for your baby.

More information

Fitness For more information on fitness and exercise, including stretches, types of exercise, exercise recovery and exercise with health conditions, as well as some useful videos, see Fitness and Exercise.
Exercise during Pregnancy For more information on pregnancy and exercise, including the benefits and risks of different types of exercise, see Exercise during pregnancy.
Pregnancy Read all about Pregnancy, including preconception advice, stages of pregnancy, investigations, complications, living with pregnancy and birth.

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