Exercise and Parenthood – From Pre-Pregnancy to the Postpartum Period
Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and every adult should aim to do at least some physical activity every day; 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise is generally considered to be ideal.
The NHS recommends:
- Move all the major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms) at least twice each week
- Exercise at least 150 minutes a week at moderate intensity or for 75 minutes a week at vigorous intensity
Examples of moderate exercise include:
- Brisk walking
- Aqua aerobics
- Riding a bike
- Gentle yoga
Vigorous exercise is any activity that makes you breathe hard and fast. Examples include:
- Jogging or running
- Fast swimming
- Riding a bike (either fast on flat ground or on hilly terrain)
- Walking up stairs
The benefits of pre-pregnancy exercise
Being active and taking regular suitable exercise can help you prepare your body for conception and pregnancy. Fertility specialists recommend exercise for any person who is planning a pregnancy – this includes prospective partners. Not only will exercise enhance your physical health, it will also help to reduce stress; something numerous studies have shown to be effective in increasing the chances of conception.
Furthermore, regular exercise can help a woman to prepare for the strains of pregnancy and childbirth by ensuring toned muscles and good cardiovascular health – it is important to note that your heart will have to pump as much as 50 percent more blood in order to provide for your growing baby. It is also a good idea to achieve a healthier body weight during the pre-pregnancy phase, as it is harder to lose weight once you are pregnant. Having a high BMI increases the risk of pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.
One other benefit to getting fit pre-pregnancy is that it will help you to establish healthy habits that may in turn set you up for a good exercise routine during the pregnancy and postpartum periods.
Use the links on this page to read more about pre-pregnancy exercise.
Exercise during pregnancy
Regular exercise during pregnancy can help you maintain your health, mood and physical fitness. It can also help you better adapt as your body changes shape and you gain pregnancy weight.
There has been much research carried out regarding exercise in pregnancy and the risks and benefits for the mother and baby. These studies have revealed many positive indications, including that women who exercise during pregnancy may be less likely to experience problems during the third trimester and in childbirth.
Moderate, appropriate exercise during pregnancy is not dangerous and, in most cases, you should be able to continue with your usual exercise routine and physical activities for as long as it is comfortable for you to do so. There is certainly no evidence that a sensible level of exercise is dangerous to your baby.
My BabyManual has compiled numerous articles on pregnancy exercise, use the links on this page to read more.
Exercise during the postpartum period
You’ve just been through nine months of pregnancy, the stresses and strains of childbirth and now you have a new baby, so don’t be surprised if exercise is the last thing you feel like doing.
However, once you have given yourself time to recover from the birth, regular exercise can help to increase your energy levels, help you relax, and may even help to reduce your chances of developing postnatal depression.
Read more by clicking on the links on this page.
Your 24/7 resource for information about exercise, from pre-pregnancy to the postpartum period
My BabyManual is packed with resources and information to help women and their partners at every stage of the journey, from pre-pregnancy through pregnancy, and in the postpartum period.
Read on for trusted and authoritative advice and information from the My BabyManual team, including our expert medical contributors who are doctors, midwives, nurses, obstetricians, personal trainers, nutritionists and more.