Ensuring That It’s Safe to Exercise in Your Pregnancy
Understandably, many women avoid exercise during pregnancy for fear of causing damage to the precious baby growing inside their womb. Previously, doctors would discourage exercise in pregnancy as it was thought that it might damage the delicate placental blood supply. In fact, exercise is not only safe in pregnancy but it actually has benefits for both mum and baby.
However, exercise is not suitable every pregnant woman. If you have any of the following conditions you should discuss with your doctor before commencing an exercise program in pregnancy:
- Incompetence of the cervix: this is where the neck of the womb begins to open before pregnancy has reached term.
- Placenta praevia after 26 weeks of pregnancy: placenta praevia is where the placenta has formed close to the neck of the womb.
- Bleeding during the pregnancy: This is particularly if the bleeding is persistent in the second and third trimester of pregnancy
- Premature labour in previous pregnancies. The guidelines actually suggest to not exercise if you are experiencing a premature labour in your current pregnancy. I’m yet to meet a women who feels the need to do a work-out during labour, premature or otherwise, so this seems one of those pieces of advice that “goes without saying.”
- Restricted growth of the baby during your current pregnancy.
- Multiple pregnancy where there is an increased risk of premature delivery.
- Premature rupture of the membranes, the sac that surrounds the baby in the womb.
- Pre-eclampsia or raised blood pressure during pregnancy. Pre-eclampsia is the combination of raised blood pressure, protein in the urine.
There are a number of medical conditions that can increase the risk of exercising in pregnancy either to the mum or baby. These include:
- Significant heart or lung disease or blood pressure that is poorly controlled.
- Poorly controlled type one or two diabetes, hyperthyroidism or epilepsy.
- Being very overweight (BMI >40) or underweight (BMI <12).
- Severe back pain, pelvic pain or other joint pain.
- Anaemia (a low level of red blood cells where the haemoglobin value is less than 100g/L)
There’s no doubt that exercise is fantastic for most pregnant women and their babies. However, it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor that it is safe to exercise before you start. At Coyne Medical, when pregnant women consult with us about starting an exercise program during pregnancy we like to discuss with you your general health, how your pregnancy is going and whether you have any symptoms, your current level of physical fitness, what your work or childcare entails and what exercise you intend to do. We would then make a personalised plan based on this information that establishes the type, frequency, duration and intensity or exercise that will most benefit mum and baby.
Dr Hugh Coyne