Frequently Asked Antenatal Questions
In support of guidelines from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) suggests that:
- all women should be encouraged to participate in aerobic and strength-conditioning exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle during their pregnancy
- reasonable goals of aerobic conditioning in pregnancy should be to maintain a good fitness level throughout pregnancy without trying to reach peak fitness level or train for athletic competition
- women should choose activities that will minimise the risk of loss of balance and fetal trauma
- women should be advised that adverse pregnancy or neonatal outcomes are not increased for exercising women
- initiation of pelvic floor exercises in the immediate postpartum period may reduce the risk of future urinary incontinence
- women should be advised that moderate exercise during lactation does not affect the quantity or composition of breast milk or impact on fetal growth
What are the benefits of exercising during Pregnancy?
As with exercise recommendations for women who have any medical condition, those for pregnant women must balance the benefits and risks to both mother and fetus.
- Maternal benefits appear to be both physical and psychological in nature. Many common complaints of pregnancy, including fatigue, varicosities and swelling of extremities, are reduced in women who exercise. Additionally, active women experience less insomnia, stress, anxiety and depression. There is some evidence that weight-bearing exercise throughout pregnancy can reduce the length of labour and decrease delivery complications. An argument for public health is that women who incorporate exercise into their routine during pregnancy are more likely to continue exercising postpartum.
and care providers should consider the effects of a sedentary lifestyle
during pregnancy as it may contribute to loss of muscular and
cardiovascular fitness, excessive maternal weight gain, raised risk of
gestational diabetes mellitus or pre-eclampsia, development of varicose
veins and increased incidence of physical complaints such as dyspnoea or
lower back pain and poor psychological adjustment to the physical
changes of pregnancy.
- Exercise is helpful in improving glycaemic control in women with gestational diabetes mellitus and may play a role for primary prevention of developing gestational diabetes mellitus.
also suggests a protective effect of exercise on coronary heart
disease, osteoporosis and hypertension, as well as a reduced risk of
colon cancer, and perhaps breast cancer, and reduced body mass.
- To read about more benefits of exercise in pregnancy please click here.
When can I start?
- You can start exercising anytime after 13 weeks. Many women however feel very tired in the first trimester and wish to wait until they feel more energized.
- Other women will wait until their bump is showing to attend specific AN exercise classes 20 + weeks, many choosing to remain going to the gym or other classes. WORD of ADVICE always tell your instructor you are pregnant as many main stream classes and gym work is unsuitable during pregnancy if not modified or adapted.
- You will not reap the benefits as highlighted above if you do not participate in regular exercise. For this reason all classes are booked in 6 week blocks and I would strongly advise to commit to at least 8 classes.
What is the class content?
- Approximately 15-20 minutes of gentle aerobic exercise aimed at maintaining CV fitness.
- 15 mins of MSE exercises strengthening the muscles of the legs, arms, back and bottom.
- 15 mins of Pilates based exercises aimed at improving posture, switching on the core muscles, helping to prevent or improve back and pelvic discomfort.
- 5 mins of Pelvic floor exercises – if learnt during pregnancy will help a quicker postnatal recovery.
- 5 mins stretching – concentrating on the muscles that become tight during pregnancy.
- 5-15mins of relaxation – learning to relax is important during labour.
- Times will vary according to the session plan.
How do you promote friendship?
- At the end of each class we have ½ hour chat over refreshments getting to know the rest of the group.
- I will encourage you to meet up, set up facebook groups and support each other.
Ideally I recommend all members join Keep Mums Fit Facebook group and follow @keepmumsfit on Twitter to keep updated on class information and great hints and tips. The support network is invaluable - new groups are formed and long lasting friendships forged.
Which conditions may require medical supervision/discussion with your GP if you are to take part in regular exercise?
- Cardiac disease
- Restrictive lung disease
- Persistent bleeding in the second and third trimesters
- Pre-eclampsia or pregnancy-induced hypertension
- Preterm labour (previous/present)
- Intrauterine growth restriction
- Cervical weakness/suture
- Placenta praevia after 26 weeks
- Preterm prelabour rupture of membranes
- Heavy smoker (more than 20 cigarettes a day)
- Orthopaedic limitations
- Poorly controlled hypertension
- Extremely sedentary lifestyle
- Unevaluated maternal cardiac arrhythmia
- Chronic bronchitis
- Multiple gestation (individualised and medically supervised)
- Poorly controlled thyroid disease
- Morbid obesity (body mass index greater than 40)
- Malnutrition or eating disorder
- Poorly controlled diabetes mellitus
- Poorly controlled seizures
- Anaemia (haemoglobin less than 100 g/l).
What shall I do if there are problems during my pregnancy?
Warning signs to terminate exercise
- Excessive shortness of breath
- Chest pain or palpitation
- Painful uterine contractions or preterm labour
- Leakage of amniotic fluid
- Vaginal bleeding
- Excessive fatigue
- Abdominal pain, particularly in back or pubic area
- Excessive Pelvic girdle pain
- Reduced fetal movement
- Muscle weakness
- Calf pain or swelling.
Can I take a break from the classes and then return?
Yes, you can take a break – I’m aware during pregnancy you can become tired before the end or have other commitments. For this reason, I am happy for you to have a break from the classes if you have told me in advance. Please text me and let me know when you wish to return.
Please remember the benefits of regular exercise during pregnancy, if you stop no gains will be made and strength improvements will be lost.