As I started my career in women’s health physiotherapy, one thing that really surprised me was how many pregnant women I was seeing had stopped exercising! Most of them said it was because they heard that they shouldn’t, or they weren’t sure what they should or shouldn’t be doing. Their concerns made sense, but were frustrating. Women were missing out on the activities they so enjoyed due to lingering prehistoric fear mongering, and/or a lack of easily accessible resources and information on the topic.
After a bit of online searching, I found that the last published Canadian guideline on pregnancy and exercise was published over 15 years ago!… Until now! …the 2019 Canadian Guideline for Physical Activity throughout Pregnancy was just released!
Did you know that:
- physical activity is not associated with fetal complications
- exercising during pregnancy cuts the odds of major complications by 40%
- pregnant women who exercise are not at a higher risk for miscarriage, preterm birth, or having a smaller baby
What is important to realize is that there ARE certain women with medical reasons for not exercising during pregnancy. These women will have hopefully been informed by their primary healthcare provider. If you haven’t discussed physical activity options with your doctor, midwife, or nurse practitioner, then make sure you have that conversation. If there are no medical reasons you shouldn’t be exercising, you can find the 2019 Canadian Guideline for Physical Activity throughout Pregnancy link below.
The guideline includes six recommendations:
- All women without contraindication should be physically active throughout pregnancy (for a list of contraindications, download the guidelines below)
- Pregnant women should accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week
- Physical activity should be accumulated over a minimum of three days per week (so don’t do all 150 mins at once!)
- Pregnant women should incorporate a variety of aerobic exercise and resistance training activities to achieve greater benefits
- Pelvic floor muscle training like Kegels (if done correctly) may be performed on a daily basis to reduce the risk of urinary incontinence
- Pregnant women who experience light-headedness, nausea, or feel unwell when they exercise flat on their back should modify their exercise position to avoid the supine position
Exercise during pregnancy may be a different, less intensive practice for you, but the important thing is that you’re moving!
To download the full version of the guidelines please click below.
And for more information on how you can have an active, healthy and safe pregnancy consider checking out “A healthy and pain free pregnancy” an awesome blog post written by a local Ottawa pelvic floor and women’s health physiotherapist and mum, Andrea Plitz, PT.
Happy exercising! 🙂