It’s no secret that staying active and fit while you’re pregnant has its benefits, but what exactly is the importance behind prenatal exercises? Let us explain the top three reasons you should consider adding prenatal workouts into your weekly regime while you’re pregnant.
Before you commence an exercise program it is important that you check with your doctor first to ensure there are no problems which would prevent you from exercising.
Stay healthy in mind and body
Pregnancy and giving birth can be very demanding on your body. A reasonable level of fitness through something like prenatal workouts will help you prepare and manage physically and emotionally for labour3.
The changes in your body like weight gain and altered posture are two major physical changes that can occur during pregnancy3. Building up your stamina, strength and flexibility can be the best way to prepare for these changes in your body, mind, the demands of birth and early parenting3. To achieve a reasonable level of fitness aim for one of the following when planning your prenatal workout routine:
- Moderate-intensity exercise on all or most days of the week (avoid pushing to the point of being out of breath)
- Minimum of 150 minutes of exercise per week
- 10,000 steps per day3
This level of exercise will taper down as you get closer to your labour date and you should seek and follow the medical advice of your healthcare professional.
Why practice prenatal exercises
Practicing prenatal exercises regularly can lower your risk of conditions like pre-eclampsia, pregnancy-induced hypertension, anxiety, depression and difficulties during labour2.
If you haven’t been active leading up to your pregnancy and your healthcare professional has given you clearance to exercise, you can:
- Start with low-intensity exercises like walking or swimming2
- Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days (all if possible)2. If 30 minutes is unachievable for you, try to do 2 x 15-minute workouts
Strengthen your pelvic floor
During pregnancy your pelvic floor muscles can be weakened, especially during a vaginal delivery. Conditioning your pelvic floor muscles as early as you can (ideally at the beginning of your pregnancy) is extremely important2. Regular prenatal exercises will help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and can help reduce or avoid stress incontinence after pregnancy1.
Incontinence is a common condition that can affect one in three pregnant women, but it is treatable3. To find the most appropriate pelvic floor exercises for you, speak to your physiotherapist or healthcare professional. If you’re a Member and hold a Premium or Essentials Extras policy you can take advantage of exercise physiology.
In summary, regular prenatal workouts can help you:
- Stay healthy in mind and body1
- Reduce your risk of certain conditions during your pregnancy1
- Be stronger and fitter for coping with pregnancy through strengthening your pelvic floor1
Note: This information is not intended as advice. Individuals should make there own assessment of the relevance and accuracy of this information. You should consult your physician or other health care professional before starting this fitness program to determine if it is right for your needs.
- Queensland Government. 2020. Exercise during pregnancy. Accessed https://www.qld.gov.au/health/children/pregnancy/antenatal-information/looking-after-yourself-and-your-baby/exercise-during-pregnancy
- Department of Health, State Government of Victoria. 2020. Pregnancy and Exercise. Accessed https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/pregnancy-and-exercise
- The Women’s. 2021. Active Pregnancy. Accessed https://www.thewomens.org.au/health-information/pregnancy-and-birth/a-healthy-pregnancy/active-pregnancy