Advice and Tips

Keeping Fit in Pregnancy

Being fit during pregnancy will help your body recover quicker after labour and birth so that you return to shape more quickly.

Exercise is possible throughout pregnancy although it should be tailored to meet the challenges of each trimester and the growing bump.

Exercise is possible throughout pregnancy although it should be tailored to meet the challenges of each trimester and the growing bump.

Even if you have never exercised before, it is not too late to start when you discover that you are pregnant. You will begin to feel the benefits very quickly, but it is important to start something that you enjoy. Remember to keep the goals realistic.

First Trimester

The first few months of pregnancy can be tricky as the sudden change in hormones can make you feel sick, tired and lethargic. Throughout pregnancy you should listen to your body and not force it to overdo things. It is probably better to avoid running or high impact aerobics at this stage. Walking is good, and a brisk walk where you raise your heart rate and boost your metabolism will help dispel lethargy and tiredness. The ideal is to make time for three to five sessions of exercise a week with each lasting from 30 - 40 minutes.

If you are not suffering in the early stages, an exercise class may appeal, but always make sure the instructor is aware that you are pregnant. Similarly, if you have already been attending a gym, continue with your programme, but make sure that the staff knows of your condition. They are trained to take your pregnancy into account.

Swimming is another useful form of exercise and many leisure centres offer aqua classes which are popular among pregnant women and a good way of meeting other mothers-to-be.

Second Trimester

This is the period of time from 14 to 26 weeks when most women ‘bloom': when their hair shines and their skin is healthy. You will have more energy during this time and exercise will increase the feel-good factor which has been created by the release of endorphins within the body. If you have not already started a fitness programme, now is the time. Consider walking, swimming, exercise classes, team sports. The range is vast and the choice will depend on time, location and cost.

Invest in some good shoes and comfortable clothes which will expand with you and the baby. It is easy to become dehydrated, so carry your own fluid supply - water is best. Bananas are a good source of nutrition and can help maintain sugar levels. Do not exercise directly after eating - you need two hours to digest food.

Add variety to your exercise programme to include aerobic and stretching exercises as well as meditation or relaxation. Your body will need more oxygen at this stage to feed the growing baby so make sure you do not get too out of breath. Now is the time to book antenatal classes for relaxation and breathing exercises.

Yoga, Pilates and stretching classes are very beneficial at all stages of pregnancy as they can help the body strengthen and tone through specific muscle exercise and breathe awareness.

Third Trimester.

You may find yourself becoming tired again and short of breath during the latter stage of pregnancy. Aerobic activity will become more stressful and difficult. Your bump will cause you to feel unbalanced and the added weight can be felt during exertion.

Walking, and swimming remain helpful, but remember to listen to your body as its constantly changing needs arise.

Pelvic floor exercises are good throughout and these will be the first you will return to after the birth. 

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