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Exercising when pregnant – the myths you should ignore

You’ve already given up prosecco and your favourite cheese, do you really have to give up Zumba too? If you’re worried about your bump-safe exercise routine, don’t be. Despite the various myths that litter the internet, staying active during pregnancy has massive benefits for you and your baby. Based on our research and experience looking after thousands of pregnant women here at the Women’s Health Academic Centre, we will dispel the myths and offer practical tips on keeping fit during your pregnancy.

 

Will exercising during my pregnancy put my baby at risk of a premature birth?

No, in fact, recent research proves exercising when pregnant decreases the likelihood. When we studied over 1000 women, even the ones who ran several times a week until the final stages of pregnancy showed no increased risk of premature birth. Unfortunately, this is also likely to be why ten laps round the park doesn’t start your labour off when you’re overdue!

Mum of two Deb was a marathon runner before her pregnancy and ran throughout, telling Mother and Baby: 'At four months I ran a Cross Country League and my last race was a charity three mile event at around seven months. I cycled to all my midwife appointments until my bump got in the way of my knees - I'd always feel like Superwoman by the time I got home!'

 

Is exercise linked to low birthweight?

It’s been suggested that high intensity exercise when you’re pregnant can result in a decreased nutrient supply to your developing fetus, and a smaller baby as a result. However recent studies prove exercise increases the likelihood of having a normal, healthy sized baby. So there's no excuse to spend the next nine months on the sofa!

 

Will my baby get stressed as I exercise?

Medical research does not support claims that intense exercise affects your baby’s heart rate. That said, when planning your bump-friendly exercise plan, you should stick to your usual routine (now is not the time to try that new, experimental gym class) and ask a prenatal instructor if you need some help tweaking your workouts.

 

Will getting too hot and sweaty damage my baby in my first trimester?

No, definitely not. There is no evidence that exercise, of any intensity, could possibly generate enough heat to interfere with your baby’s development. During your first trimester, you can often carry on with higher impact exercise if your body is already used to it, so be assured, working up a sweat will cause you no harm.

 

Do I need to stop exercising completely when I reach my second trimester?

After 12 weeks, you should reconsider any sports that put you at an increased risk of getting a blow to your bump, as your womb is now less protected by your pelvic bones. Such sports include horse-riding, cycling and hockey. Experts also advise against doing any exercises that involve lying on your back after the 16-week point, as the weight of your baby will press on your main blood vessels, lowering your blood pressure. So save those crunches until after the baby has arrived.

 

The right exercise routine will be hugely beneficial to your physical and emotional wellbeing as you get ready for your new arrival, yet as always it’s important to check with a health professional if you have any concerns. 

 

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