Is it safe to exercise during pregnancy?

Women were once misled that exercise during pregnancy could increase the risk of miscarriage. Over the last two decades, many studies have shown that this is not the case. In fact, mild to moderate exercise during pregnancy is safe and benefits the mother in more ways than one.

During my pregnancy, Dr Tan strongly encouraged me to stay active. I started swimming regularly and the exercise helped me in going through natural delivery without pain management.
- Ms.Ong R U

How does exercising during pregnancy benefit me or my baby?

Studies suggest that exercising during pregnancy can help:

  • Reduce lower backaches
  • Ease constipation
  • Decrease bloatedness & swelling
  • Prevent excessive weight gain
  • Boost your mood and energy levels
  • Improve sleep quality

In addition, regular exercise during pregnancy may also benefit you with:

  • Lower risk of gestational diabetes
  • Shorter labour
  • Reduced risk of needing a Caesarean Section

However, before you embark on an exercise programme, it is important to discuss with your obstetrician to ensure you are ‘fit to exercise during pregnancy.

What are the conditions which make exercise during pregnancy unsafe?

You should avoid exercise if you have the following pregnancy complications/conditions:

  • Placenta previa (low-lying placenta)
  • Pre-term labour
  • Pre-term ruptures membranes (broken waterbag)
  • Pre-eclampsia (pregnancy-induced high blood pressure)
  • Multiple pregnancies (twins / triplets)
  • Cervical insufficiency
  • Severe anemia

How much exercise can I do during pregnancy?

It is recommended that healthy pregnant women get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise every week. Moderate exercise is an exercise intensity that causes you to break a sweat and have an increased heart rate. Examples of moderate aerobic exercise include brisk walking, swimming and jogging.

It is advisable to start out slowly and gradually increase your activity. You can divide the weekly quota of 150 minutes into 30-minute workouts over 5 days of the week

What are some safe exercises that I can do during pregnancy?

The following are some safer exercises which you may consider for your exercise regime:

  • Brisk walking
  • Stationary cycling
  • Antenatal pilates or yoga
  • Swimming
  • Water workouts

Are there any exercises that I should avoid during pregnancy?

You should avoid any activities which may put you at risk of injury such as:

  • Contact sports (e.g. ice hockey, boxing, soccer, basketball)
  • Activities that put you at risk of falling (e.g. skiing, surfing, off-road cycling, horseback riding)
  • Scuba diving
  • High altitude activities (e.g.mountain climbing)

Are there any warning signs that I should stop my exercise during pregnancy?

You should stop your exercise and call your obstetrician if you develop any of the following signs  or symptoms:

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Painful contractions of the womb
  • Fluid leakage from the vagina
  • Severe shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness or fainting spells
  • Calf pain or swelling

The key is to LISTEN to your body.

How to stay motivated to exercise during your pregnancy?

Try to participate in types of activities that you enjoy and can easily fit into your daily routine so that you are more likely to remain committed to your exercise plan.

Here are some simple tips to keep you motivated:

  • Take baby steps. Don’t start with intense exercise. Try simple exercises like brisk walks. Gradually, step up the interval and intensity of your exercise regimen.
  • Get an exercise partner. It’ll make the entire experience more fun. That will also keep you committed to your exercise regimen.
  • Sign up for a class. Many fitness centres offer exercise classes for pregnant women (e.g. pre-natal yoga class). With other pregnant women in the class, it helps to keep each other motivated to stay fit.

“During my pregnancy, Dr Tan strongly encouraged staying active to lower the risk of gestational diabetes. Fearing needles, I took his advice seriously from week 24 and started swimming regularly for an hour, 2-3 times a week, up until I delivered in week 38.
Not only did I manage to keep away from needles during pregnancy, the exercises gave me a higher pain tolerance and stamina that allowed me to experience natural delivery without any assisted pain management.
I’m really thankful to Dr Tan for his constant reminders and encouragement throughout this journey to ensure I have a higher chance of experiencing the au-naturel delivery I had been aiming for."
Ms.Ong R U




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