There is much debate that goes into what to do, what not to do and how to do it when it comes to working out during pregnancy. For some women, it’s an essential they need to keep doing as part of an active lifestyle. Although many studies do tell us it’s beneficial - not only for the mother but for the baby too - some women still face scrutiny when keeping up their training.

In general, pregnant women do not need to limit exercise, provided they do not become excessively tired or risk injury.

It’s good to keep active during pregnancy for three main reasons:

1. It can help to keep your energy levels up. 

2. It can help reduce swelling and water retention by increasing circulation of the blood.

3. It helps strengthen the body (especially the back and core) for the growing weight of the baby. Things like yoga, Pilates and resistance training can help to improve posture, therefore reducing the likelihood of back pain. It is common to suffer from back or pelvic pain in pregnancy and the right type of exercise can help to offset this.

However, the issue of “when is it too much?” is down to what you did before you were pregnant. Women should take note of how much their body was used to working out prior to getting pregnant, because jumping from nothing to working out three times a week could be harmful to your body. Exercising at 55-60 percent of pre-pregnancy intensity should be aimed at.

Before you begin exercising, it's worthwhile  to discuss your plans with your doctor. 

1. Each activity in your exercise should be assessed separately by the doctor for safety.

2. Refrain from activities with high risk of fall or abdominal trauma.

3. Regular, moderate intensity activity for 30 minutes or more is encouraged.

There are certain conditions where physical activity should be restricted or completely avoided

  • Unstable heart/lung disease
  • Multiple pregnancy (twins or more)
  • Second/Third trimester bleeding
  • Placenta praevia
  • Preterm labour or ruptured membranes
  • Pregnancy induced hypertension
  • Severe anaemia
  • Uncontrolled Diabetes
  • Extremely overweight or underweight
  • Poor growth of baby in current pregnancy
  • Poorly controlled Epilepsy
  • Poorly controlled hyperthyroidism
  • Heavy smoker

Take home points:

  1. Moderate exercise is beneficial to both mother and baby.
  2. Exercising under supervision is recommended.
  3. Always take your doctor's opinion before you begin exercise routine.
  4. If you feel very tired/unwell at any point, stop immediately and contact your doctor.

Dr. Swati Chitnis

Obstetrician & Gynaecologist