Exercise during pregnancy
Get moving but in moderation. Listen to your body.
3 min read
Reviewed by Jenny Jansson
Training and exercise during pregnancy are beneficial for both you and your baby. If you are fit, or at least in fairly good shape, the delivery will be easier for you. Giving birth is hard work, so you need to prepare yourself physically to cope. If your starting point is being unfit when you get pregnant, you can walk, swim, and bicycle. These activities are gentle on the body and don’t tear the ligaments, but are still efficient when you start exercising. Swimming and water aerobics are especially great. The body feels weightless in the water and it is easier for you to push yourself and stretch. Group sessions are okay, but be careful, listen to your body, and don’t jump. If you like martial arts you can participate in the warm-up but skip the hands-on encounters.
Another essential exercise during pregnancy is the Kegel exercise. After the delivery, pelvic floor muscle training is vital to regaining the strength in the pelvic floor muscles. It will be much easier to keep up with the Kegel exercises if you started already during the pregnancy, if not before then. If you know how to contract correctly, it will be a lot easier to relax when it’s time to deliver.
Push yourself in moderation when you exercise while pregnant. But don’t push yourself too hard, your heartbeat shouldn’t exceed 140–160 beats per minute. The rule of thumb is that you should be able to have a normal conversation during your workout, but this depends on which week you are in. If you are at a later stage of the pregnancy, the belly might feel hard when you exercise. This is because you have contractions and it’s a sign that you might have pushed yourself a bit too hard. Slow down a bit and take a break. If the contractions continue, you should end your workout session and rest.
Some women find they are more flexible during their pregnancies, despite having a big belly. This is due to the hormone relaxin, which loosens up cartilage and connective tissue in the pelvic region to prepare the body for delivery. Be careful not to stretch too much, even if you do yoga. For yoga, there are “pregnancy-friendly” options with so-called pregnancy yoga. Try it! You can be sure the exercises are tailored to suit you.
If you feel well, you can exercise for as long as you are comfortable. In the very last weeks, you will probably have to slow down and do easier exercises. If you have spotting or have previously had miscarriages, you also need to take it easy. Change from physical training to mental training at the very end. And don’t forget your Kegel exercises!
Reviewed by Jenny Jansson
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