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Physical Activity During Pregnancy

Is it safe for me to exercise during my pregnancy?

Yes, generally women are encouraged to participate in physical activity during their pregnancy. If you are already active, keep going! Listen to your body and adapt. If you are not active, start gradually; short walks are often a great place to start. Exercise is a great way to control weight gain, improve fitness, reduce high blood pressure, improve sleep, prevent diabetes and improve your mood.

Click on the picture to see the current government guidance on exercise in pregnancy.

When should I not exercise?

The majority of women are encouraged to participate in physical activity throughout their pregnancy. If you experience complications during your pregnancy, you are likely to be under the care of a consultant. You are advised to discuss whether exercise is appropriate with your consultant, GP or midwife if you have the following conditions:

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Reduced baby (foetal) movements
  • Any heart/lung/kidney/thyroid disease
  • History of recurrent miscarriage or premature labour or ‘small for dates’ baby
  • Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus (DM), especially if poorly controlled
  • Have been told your placenta is lying low in the uterus (placenta praevia)
  • Have unstable blood pressure
  • Anaemia
  • Extremely overweight or underweight
  • A heavy smoker
  • Have pelvic pain or lower back pain


Do I need to take any precautions?

We’d encourage that you listen to your body, as it is the best indicator of what it likes. If you feel uncomfortable or unwell when exercising, stop and rest. Work within your limits - this is probably not the time to aim for personal bests! Ensure you drink plenty and stay hydrated when exercising.

During exercise, it is safe to lie on your back for short periods, as long as you feel well. Avoid long periods of lying on your back, particularly after 19 weeks, as this can affect your blood flow. Therefore, if you feel dizzy or unwell, change to a side-lying position.

Is there anything I should avoid doing? 

Yes, there are a few things you should avoid. Don’t bump the bump. Avoid contact sports or activities that could result in a heavy fall. Avoid exercising in high or low atmospheric pressure. This means no scuba diving, sky diving or climbing Mount Everest. Gymnastics, horse-riding, skiing and surfing are also best to be avoided.

What are the warning signs that I should stop exercising? 

Please stop exercising if you experience any of the following:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Palpitations
  • Dizziness
  • Painful uterine contractions
  • Abdominal or pelvic pain
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Excessive fatigue

What about the pelvic floor I keep hearing about?

The pelvic floor is a sling-shaped muscle between your legs that starts at your pubic bone and runs to the base of your spine. It is important that these muscles are strong, as they support our pelvic organs and the pelvic girdle, but also play a big part in keeping us continent (preventing leakage from the bladder and bowels).

It is worthwhile thinking about your pelvic floor when considering exercise in general, as working on it can help during and after your baby arrives.

You can find these muscles through imagining you are trying to stop yourself from passing wind at the back and urine at the front. You should feel a gentle drawing up of the muscles in the area under and between your legs. Try not to hold your breath or tighten your bigger bottom and thigh muscles.

Please follow the link below for all the information you need to help you start completing your pelvic floor exercises.

Where can I find further information?

If you need to know more, you are more than welcome to speak further with a women’s health physiotherapist (requires GP referral), your GP or your midwife. You can also use the below link to access an excellent resource on all things exercise-related during your pregnancy.

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