Exercise during and following pregnancy

 

It is safe to exercise during pregnancy as long as your pregnancy is normal and you have no medical or pregnancy problems. 

Keeping active holds many benefits it:

  • Maintains and improves your current fitness levels
  • Reduces risks of developing pre-eclampsia, high blood pressure, gestational diabetes
  • Helps you to control your weight during pregnancy, increases your self image and body awareness
  • Improves sleep and mood
  • Reduces constipation
  • Improves posture and back pain
  • Strengthens pelvic floor muscles.

Benefits for exercise after the birth of your baby/babies are:

  • Faster recovery
  • Stress relief
  • Aids return to normal weight
  • Improves sleep and mood, potentially decreasing risk of developing postnatal depression
  • Improves self image and body awareness
  • Strengthens pelvic floor muscles
  • Increases abdominal muscle tone
  • Improves overall fitness when adapting to motherhood.

Any exercise you have done prior to pregnancy can continue, provided it isn’t a contact activity (like kickboxing for example) and it has been adapted to your trimester of pregnancy – help with this can be provided by a pre/postnatal fitness instructor.

If you are new to exercise you can ensure you go for regular walks or swimming to begin to become active and gain benefit from this during and following pregnancy.

No matter what your current activity level, you should continue to do pelvic floor exercises throughout pregnancy and following the birth of your baby.

Although it is extremely important to continue to exercise during pregnancy, it is also important to note that any high impact activity (running, Zumba, anything involving bouncing movements) can be a detriment to your pelvic floor health in the future. 

As soon as you feel fit and able following delivery you can begin walking small distances to keep active. It is very important to begin doing pelvic floor exercises as soon as possible and to continue to do these for the rest of your life!

It is recommended for all women to have a 6 week check with their GP and at this appointment your GP should advise you if it is safe or not to begin to do high impact activity again – Zumba, running etc. If you have had a caesarean section birth it is likely you may need a longer recovery time.

If you are pregnant and experience any vaginal bleeding, abnormal vaginal discharge or leaking fluid from the vagina, feeling dizzy or faint, chest pain, headaches, muscle weakness, calf swelling or pain, regular and painful period type pains or contractions – STOP EXERCISING AND CONTACT THE MATERNITY UNIT YOU ARE BOOKED AT.

If you are exercising following the birth of your baby and you experience feeling faint or dizzy, chest pain, headaches, muscle weakness, calf swelling or pain – STOP EXERCISING AND TAKE MEDICAL ADVICE AS APPROPRIATE.  

 For more information, please visit our main Local Maternity and Neonatal System website.

 

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Vicky’s Story

Vicky, 39, from Hull, used to smoke more than 10 cigarettes a day but has now been smoke-free for four weeks (as of July 2020).

Vicky was at college when she first started smoking. It wasn’t something she thought much about initially, but all of her friends smoked and she soon got caught up with the crowd. Once hooked, it became a habit for her, and she was soon smoking up to 10 cigarettes a day, which increased as she got older.

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