Information in this section has been provided by Moira Clark, an experienced, specialist prenatal/pregnancy and postnatal Pilates and exercise instructor.

Should I exercise when I am pregnant?

There is evidence to support the benefits of appropriate exercise for a healthy, adult woman having a healthy, normal pregnancy.

There is no evidence to support the idea that exercise in pregnancy at an appropriate level is harmful for mother or baby, providing the mother has no medical conditions and is having a problem free pregnancy.

What exercise should I choose in pregnancy?

There are risks associated with exercise involving impact, heavy weight lifting, rapid or ballistic movement, twisting, excessive range of movement, excessive altitude or depth, very high intensity, or where there is risk of falling or abdominal trauma.

Best choice:

  • Functional exercise: walking in good posture at a rate so that you feel slightly out of breath but still in control. Alternate with swimming if desired but avoid swimming as a main choice.
  • Group exercise: pregnancy specific class with focus on posture and stability.
  • In the gym: pregnancy specific programme including light weights/high repetition and cardio vascular work on the treadmill, cross trainer or bike in good posture.
  • Personal trainer: choose a qualified, experienced specialist who works mainly with pregnant/postnatal women
  • Pelvic Floor exercises are a must!

Can I exercise in the early stages of pregnancy?

If you are experiencing a problem free pregnancy its a very good idea to take some exercise. You may find that exercise improves your mood, improves your sleep, alleviates fatigue and takes your mind off or eases nausea.

Can I exercise in the last stages of pregnancy?

There is some evidence to suggest that women who continue to exercise at an appropriate level through pregnancy have fewer physical problems and may have an easier labour and birth. Adjust your usual exercise to compensate for postural changes and according to how you feel.

When should I start to exercise after the birth?

Providing there are no medical problems start with Pelvic Floor exercises immediately and light walking in good posture as soon as you feel ready. Your baby can be with you in a pram or sling.

After about 6 weeks you may feel ready to walk further or join a class. A specialist postnatal class is always the best choice to start as this should focus on Pelvic Floor muscle strength, posture improvement, good joint alignment, pelvic stability and abdominal structure re-education.

My tummy looks and feels flabby. Should I do sit up or crunch type exercises?

This type of exercise will never give you a flat tummy but it may give you neck and shoulder pain and make your tummy bulge more.

Focus on better posture, and gently draw your lower tummy in before you pick up your baby. Do Pelvic Floor exercises. Find a postnatal specific exercise class.

When should I start more vigourous exercise such as running?

The body is structurally weaker post birth, pregnancy posture will still be dominant and the Pelvic Floor structure will be weaker. Ideally 6 to 9 months are needed to retrain posture and regain enough structural strength to cope with the physical stress of impact or intense exercise.

Use these first few months post birth to lay a strong foundation to support more vigorous exercise and protect your long-term physical health. Start by power walking with the buggy in good posture; as your baby gets heavier your workout will become harder as you get stronger. Running with a baby in a buggy is dangerous and should be avoided.