Exercise in pregnancy

Exercise during pregnancy 

Regular exercise is important at all stages of life. When you’re pregnant, regular, moderate exercise can help you feel better and enhance your social life; it can possibly help your labor go faster; regular moderate exercise can also lessen your chances of labor interventions, of needing a C-section, or of experiencing preterm delivery.   

 Here are a few guidelines I’ve gleaned that you can add to your own common sense. And during our prenatal visits, let’s talk about what kinds of activities your already doing or might want to try.   


  • Be sure you’re adding calories, water, and nutrition to your diet if you’re exercising.   
  • Warm up and cool down; include gentle, careful stretching when you cool down.   
  • When rising from the floor, go slowly.   
  • Walking and swimming are good forms of exercise.   
  • During pregnancy, avoid scuba diving and exercising at very high altitudes.   
  • Don’t exercise to exhaustion, stop if you get tired. While exercising, your own sense of how you feel is the best judge what is enough or too much. During pregnancy, don’t push yourself to achieve higher goals, rather, use exercise as a form of supporting yourself.   
  • Don’t lie on your back to exercise. Don’t pull yourself up using your abdominal muscles.   
  • Go gently. Avoid exercises that require jumping, jerky motions, speed, etc. The pregnant body has a different load balance because of the heavy uterus, so move carefully. Be careful of your muscles, tendons and ligaments—pregnancy is a special time when hormones loosen the joints, and having a heavy uterus can strain the body and alter the posture in specific ways.   
  • No exercises that might cause abdominal trauma or can cause you to fall.   
  • No exercises that require you to hold your breath and bear down.  
  • Stop immediately if you feel unusual sensations or pain.   
  • 30 minutes of moderate exercise (like walking or swimming) a day is a good amount. Don’t overdo.   
  • Stop exercising and re-evaluate your situation with your midwife or doctor if you are spotting, if your cervix is opening preterm, or if your baby is not growing normally.   
  • Don’t exercise if you have a fever.   


Frye, A. (1998). In Holistic Midwifery: Care during pregnancy (2nd ed., Vol. 1, pp. 262–264). essay, Labrys Press.  

Sinclair, C. (2004). In A midwife’s handbook (pp. 47–48). essay, Saunders. 

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