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Prenatal Exercise

Regular exercise during pregnancy enhances your well-being, lessens discomfort and helps prepare you for the demands of labour and birth.
 
Regular exercise during pregnancy enhances your well-being, lessens discomfort and helps prepare you for the demands of labour and birth. Your goal should be to reach or keep a level of Sports that are generally safe include walking, swimming, jogging (if you jogged before pregnancy), bicycling, tennis, golf and cross-country skiing.fitness that is safe. Here are a few guidelines for following a safe and healthy exercise program:
  • Regular exercise is better than exercising sporadically.
  • Try to exercise for about 20-30 minutes at least four (4) times a week.
  • Do not exercise in extreme heat or humidity.
  • Avoid jerky, bouncy movements as well as other movements that may injure your joints such as deep-knee bends, full sit-ups, double leg raises and straight leg toe touches.
  • Begin with 10-15 minutes of warm up exercises, restrict strenuous exercise to 15 minutes and finish with 10-15 minutes of cool-down movements.
  • Drink plenty of water before and after exercise to prevent dehydration. Try to exercise for 20-30 minutes 4-5 times a week.
  • If you have not exercised regularly prior to pregnancy, begin with a low intensity activity and move to higher intensity activities gradually
  • Sports that are generally safe include walking, swimming, jogging (if you jogged before pregnancy), bicycling, tennis, golf and cross-country skiing
  • Do not swim alone - sometimes pregnant women may get leg cramps. Make sure there is a lifeguard or someone with you.
  • Sports you should avoid include scuba diving, water-skiing, surfing, platform diving and mountain climbing
  • You may want to avoid sports that involve a lot of balance like skating and down-hill skiing If you have not exercised regularly prior to pregnancy, begin with a low intensity activity and move to higher intensity activities gradually.
  • Use your common sense: stop exercising and consult your caregiver if you have symptoms such as pain, bleeding, dizziness, shortness of breath, palpitations, faintness, back pain, pubic pain or difficulty walking.
  • Yoga and tai-chi are acceptable forms of exercise during pregnancy.
Read more about physical activity and pregnancy on the Public Health Agency of Canada website.

Try to exercise for 20-30 minutes 4-5 times a week.

Why exercise?
 
  • Exercise helps keep you fit
  • Exercise helps you maintain healthy weight gain
  • Exercise helps prepare you for the physical demands of labour
  • Exercise will make it easier for you to get back in shape after the baby
Who shouldn't exercise?
 
  • If you feel unwell when you exercise
  • You have a baby that's not growing well
  • You have triplets or more
  • Your water has broken early
  • You're at risk of early labour
  • You have a short cervix you have a placenta previa
  • You have unexplained vaginal bleeding
  • You have high blood pressure in pregnancy
  • You have a serious medical condition
Speak to your care provider for more details
 

Kegel (pelvic floor) exercises

Sitting comfortably cross-legged on the floor, concentrate on tightening the muscles between your legs. Hold each contraction for two seconds. Release then repeat.

  1. Contract the front of the pelvic floor (like you would to stop urinating) by pulling up in your abdominal muscles and squeezing the buttocks.

  2. Contract the middle of the pelvic floor by pulling up inside the vagina. Then, slowly let it down and release. Don't hold your breath as you do this.

  3. Contract around the back passage (the anus).

  4. Lastly, pull up all three together (5–10 seconds).

Repeat 50 times, at least three (3) times per day. This will help prevent urinary stress incontinence after childbirth and later in life. These exercises will help strengthen your pelvic floor and maintain bladder control and sexual enjoyment.


Thigh stretch Thigh stretch


Sit in the butterfly position with the soles of your feet together. Hold your ankles and let your knees fall apart. Relax. Then lean your body forward and hold your stretch. Next, press down with your knees and up with your hands underneath your knees. Do not bounce or press too hard. Relax and repeat.
 
What's my target heart rate?

Age
Heart rate target
beats/min
Heart rate target
beats/10sec
less than 20
140-155
23-26
20-29
135-150
22-25
30-39
130-145
21-24
40 or more
125-140
20-23

Source: Joint SOGC/CSEP Clinical Practice Guideline, Exercise in Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period, 2003.  Download: Exercise in Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period

Stop exercising if you have:

▪ Excessive shortness of breath
▪ Chest pain
▪ Feel faint
▪ Painful uterine contractions
▪ Leakage of amniotic fluid
▪ Vaginal bleeding

Angry cat exercise


Angry cat


On hands and knees, hold your back flat, then tighten stomach muscles and buttocks while arching your back up and dropping your head. Then relax to the starting position. Exhale while arching your back and inhale while relaxing; do not allow your back to sag. This exercise is great for relief of a backache.


Reclined leg lift

Lying on the floor on your side, bend your lower leg for support and raise the upper leg straight to the side. Try to remain balanced with your hips slightly forward. Control the raise so that you do not extend the leg too high. Repeat with your foot flexed. Repeat with the other leg.

Reclined leg lift exercise


Shoulder/arm rotation

While standing or sitting, place your fingers on each shoulder, arms bent and circle your arms back, making small then larger circles. Repeat. Next hold the arms out straight at shoulder level and make circles from small to large. Repeat.

Shoulder/arm rotation exercise
Relax

Cooling down is just as important as warming up. You may want to repeat some of the first few exercises. The position shown below is recommended for relaxing or sleeping. On your side, bend your top knee up, and support it with a pillow. Alternatively, tighten and release the muscles in your body working from feet to head. Concentrate on relaxing your whole body. Breathe slowly and evenly.

This position is recommended for relaxing or sleeping.