Being fit won't guarantee an easy labour, but it will go a long way in preparing your body and mind to cope with - and recover from - the birth process. Building up core strength gets your body ready for the exertions of childbirth, and improving suppleness helps alleviate the accompanying discomfort of backache, joint strain and pelvic loosening.
If running was your go-to form of exercise before pregnancy, you can continue to safely run but it's wise to follow the guidelines below and check in with your doctor before continuing your regular routine.
If you would like to continue running during your pregnancy, Sam Wood - fitness expert and creator of and creator of 28 by Sam Wood - suggests following these rules:
- Stay hydrated (drink water before, during and after, this means taking a drink bottle with you)
- Don't overdo it. You should be able to comfortably hold a conversation at all times.
- Avoid getting too hot. Wear comfortable clothes and don't let your body temperature get too hot.
- Understand that you will slow down. So many changes occur during your pregnancy and naturally you will slow down.
- Listen to your body. Again with so many changes occurring it is more important than ever to stop and listen to your body at all times.
- Consult your doctor. Keep in regular contact with your doctor throughout your pregnancy and keep them involved of your activity levels.
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There are many ways to keep fit during pregnancy. Exercising in water has a low impact on your joints and makes it easier for your heart to pump blood. Pilates is a non-aerobic, zero-impact form of exercise that isolates and strengthens specific muscle groups, while the gentle moves of pregnancy yoga can help you tone up and become supple and strong. Walking is free and, if your overdue, a brisk stroll may help bring on labour.
The Australian Government's Department of Health's physical activity guidelines say healthy pregnant women should get a least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, if not all, days of the week. Doing a small amount of physical activity is better than doing none. If you currently do no physical activity, start by doing a little and gradually build up to the recommended amount.