Pregnancy is a remarkable journey that brings numerous changes to a woman's body. It's a time of joy, anticipation, and preparation for the arrival of a new life. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy is essential for the well-being of both the mother and the baby. According to the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) guidelines, regular exercise during pregnancy can provide numerous benefits, such as improved cardiovascular health, reduced risk of gestational diabetes, and enhanced mental well-being. In this blog, we will explore the importance of exercising during pregnancy and provide practical guidelines based on RANZCOG recommendations.
The Benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy: Engaging in regular exercise during pregnancy offers a multitude of advantages for both the expectant mother and her developing baby. Some of the notable benefits supported by RANZCOG include:
Improved Cardiovascular Health: Regular physical activity during pregnancy helps strengthen the heart and improve circulation. It also contributes to better stamina and endurance, which can prove beneficial during labor and delivery.
Reduced Risk of Gestational Diabetes: Gestational diabetes is a condition that affects some pregnant women, leading to high blood sugar levels. Exercise plays a crucial role in reducing the risk of developing gestational diabetes, making it an effective preventative measure.
Enhanced Mental Well-being: Pregnancy can bring about hormonal changes that may impact a woman's emotional state. Regular exercise can combat stress, anxiety, and depression by promoting the release of endorphins, commonly known as "feel-good" hormones.
Improved Muscle Tone and Strength: Gentle exercises tailored for pregnant women help maintain muscle tone and strength, making it easier to adapt to the physical demands of pregnancy and postpartum recovery.
RANZCOG Guidelines for Exercising During Pregnancy: Before starting or continuing an exercise regimen during pregnancy, it's crucial to consult with your healthcare provider. Once you have the green light, consider the following RANZCOG guidelines:
Safety First: Always prioritize your safety and well-being. Opt for activities that are low-impact, such as walking, swimming, stationary cycling, or prenatal yoga. Avoid activities with a high risk of falling, contact sports, or exercises that involve lying flat on your back for extended periods. If you were a runner prior to pregnancy there is currently no evidence to suggest you need to stop.
Gradual Progression: If you were physically active before pregnancy, you may be able to continue with your usual exercise routine, making modifications as needed. However, if you were not active before, start with gentle exercises and gradually increase the duration and intensity over time.
Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to how your body feels during and after exercise. If you experience dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pain, vaginal bleeding, or any other concerning symptoms, stop exercising and consult your healthcare provider immediately.
Warm-Up and Cool-Down: Always begin your exercise session with a warm-up to prepare your body for activity and end with a cool-down to gradually lower your heart rate. Gentle stretches can be incorporated into both the warm-up and cool-down routines.
Pelvic Floor Exercises: Regularly perform pelvic floor exercises to either strengthen or learn to relax the muscles that support the bladder, uterus, and bowels. Strengthening, relaxing and learn to coordinate contraction of the pelvic floor can aid in preventing urinary incontinence and may assist in postpartum recovery.
Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercise to stay properly hydrated. Avoid overheating by wearing breathable clothing and exercising in a well-ventilated area.
What the actual recommendation says:
Aim to do 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate intensity physical activity each week. Ideally, this should be achieved by being active on most days of the week for at least 30 minutes at a time. If you are currently inactive or overweight, start with 15 to 20 minutes and slowly build up to 30 minutes per session. While no evidence exists for an upper limit to exercise duration during pregnancy, it is not advisable to extend exercise duration beyond 60 minutes per session, unless the intensity is relatively light.
Conclusion: Exercising during pregnancy is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. Following the RANZCOG guidelines