Sport during pregnancy

Can I do sports during pregnancy?

This used to be a grey area, and people used to think that partaking in sports was harmful when pregnant. Today we know different.  Doing sports during pregnancy is highly recommended to remain healthy and to help prepare for childbirth, unless otherwise advised by your doctor. Appropriate physical activity during pregnancy has positive effect on the health of mother and baby. However, you should avoid close-contact sports or collision sports, such as rugby, netball, football, squash, volleyball, boxing, kickboxing, and so on. If you’re sensible and follow your gut instinct, there is nothing to stop the two of you doing some training.

Advantages

Sport can do wonders for many of the complaints that typically arise during pregnancy, such as strengthening the musculoskeletal system which helps to relieve back pain. Cardiovascular exercise benefits both you and your baby as it can improve blood flow to the placenta, reduces the likelihood of varicose veins and reduces the risks of gestational diabetes. As well as all these benefits, exercise can increase your energy levels and improve your mood too!

Some experts even think that continuing with sporting activities into the third trimester can make labour pains less intense. This is due to neurotransmitters, so-called beta-endorphins, which are released during exercise. In addition, the rocking movement in the womb is said to promote development of the sensory organs.

Risks

The cardiovascular system, respiration and the entire musculoskeletal system are put under considerable strain during the 40 weeks of pregnancy. It is therefore, vital not to overdo it. Theoretically, an excessive workout can reduce the baby’s blood and oxygen supply. 

Furthermore, pregnancy hormones make the joints and ligaments very flexible and loose. The soft ligaments and unstable joints make the expectant mother more prone to injury, such as a sprained ankle. Tailor your exercise to your pregnancy.

Suitable sports

Endurance sports are very suitable for pregnant women. They provide energy, reduce stress and help to increase fitness. Swimming is particularly beneficial, because the water takes the weight of your baby bump whilst exercising all the muscle groups at the same time.

Cycling and walking are also considered ideal sports for pregnant women. They are easy on the joints and ligaments. Gentle jogging with your baby bump is also not a problem during the first and second trimester, but good shoes with proper support are essential, however walking would be more suitable for the last trimester.

Prenatal yoga and Pilates are also great as they can help to strengthen the pelvic floor. Gym machine workouts are also recommended as they can allow targeted but regulated strengthening of the muscles but be careful not to overstrain at any point.

Sports to avoid

It goes without saying that sports such as deep-sea diving, climbing or water-skiing, are best avoided during pregnancy. Sports with abrupt movement sequences or ones which could cause you to be thrown off balance are also not recommended for pregnant women. These include:
  • Horse-riding
  • Skiing
  • Gymnastics
  • Skating
  • Skateboarding and so on
And you should also postpone that London marathon for now as long-distance running would cause your body temperature would rise too much.

Training recommendations

Pregnant women with a tendency for varicose veins should wear compression hosiery when doing sport. Our web shop supplies special maternity compression tights with a very soft tummy section which adapts and grows with the baby bump.

We would always recommend discussing your training programme with your doctor or antenatal nurse as the intensity with which women may exercise mainly depends on how sporty they were before the pregnancy. During the first months of pregnancy, women with a good level of fitness can usually continue with their regular exercise programme.

Exercise should become less vigorous and intense as the pregnancy progresses. Ask your clinician about your ideal pulse rate and wear a heart-rate monitor so that you can keep an eye on it. Avoid overheating your body (hyperthermia), because that can harm your baby. If you can still talk while exercising, then you are at the correct level of intensity.

And don’t forget to fuel your body by eating and drinking sufficiently. Complex carbohydrates (wholegrain products) and vitamins (fresh fruit and vegetables) are ideal sources of energy. After physical exercise, a 24-hour recovery phase is important. Remember, from 20 weeks on, you should no longer exercise the vertical abdominal/tummy muscles in isolation.

And finally: follow your instincts and develop a sense of how much exercise is good for you during pregnancy. Remember to relax, stretch and breathe!

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