Preventing and managing back and pelvic pain, some common pelvic problems and looking after your body.
Being active during pregnancy has many benefits for your physical and mental wellbeing. These include improving your sleep, improving your mood, helping to prevent diabetes of pregnancy and high blood pressure problems, and helping to support healthy weight gain. Staying active throughout your pregnancy will also give you the best chance of a good recovery, whatever happens during your labour.
Anything that moves your body counts as activity, such as walking to the shops, playing with your children, and gardening. It’s up to you how you get active, but the more fun you have and the easier it is to fit into your routine, the better.
If you have an uncomplicated pregnancy and you are already active it is safe to continue with physical activities throughout pregnancy.
If you’re new to activity, start gradually and build up your activity levels over time, eventually aiming for 150 minutes of physical activity at a moderate intensity, spread throughout the week. You don’t need to do it in big chunks – every active minute counts! Activities can include walking, exercise classes, taking the stairs, swimming, gardening and housework or any activity that makes you breathe faster whilst still being able to hold a conversation.
Try to also include strength and balance activities twice per week e.g. walking uphill, taking the stairs, carrying shopping bags, and pregnancy yoga. This will also make your joints stronger, improve circulation, ease backache and generally help you feel well.
Drawing your baby towards your spine with your tummy muscles can help you carry the weight of pregnancy.
Being active is not dangerous for your baby. If it feels comfortable keep going, if it is uncomfortable stop and seek advice. Listen to your body and adapt activities where you need to. You should stop and see your Midwife, GP or healthcare professional if you experience any bleeding, persistent excessive shortness of breath, chest or abdominal pain, incontinence, or muscle weakness affecting balance.
Remember not to bump your bump – so avoid activities with an increased risk of injury through physical contact or falling such as activities like horse riding, surfing, boxing, football, and basketball.
For more guidance on specific activities including how to make adaptations to keep you and your baby safe, take a look at the ‘Find Your Active’ resources on the Active Pregnancy Foundation website. The series of guides cover a range of specific activities including running, dancing, resistance training and many more.
If you’re unsure, seek advice from your midwife, health visitor or other healthcare professional.
If you would like support to increase your activity or are unsure about where to start, LiveWell Dorset can help. LiveWell Dorset is a free healthy lifestyle service for adults living in Dorset offering support and coaching to get active, lose weight, stop smoking and reduce alcohol intake.
Maintaining a healthy weight throughout pregnancy is one of the most important things that you can do for your own health and your baby’s health. Being overweight or underweight can have a big impact on both of you.
If you are underweight (i.e. your body mass index (BMI) is below 18.5), this can impact your baby’s growth. It also increases your risk of miscarriage, premature birth and developmental issues for your baby such as gastroschisis (a condition where their stomach doesn’t develop properly). If your BMI is 18 or below at your booking appointment, you will be referred to a consultant for additional antenatal care and monitoring, such as additional growth scans. Your consultant can refer you to other services, such as a dietician or the perinatal mental health team, depending on your personal circumstances. Read more about being underweight during pregnancy.
If you are overweight and your BMI is over 30, this can cause additional complications for you and your baby. NHS UK recommends that you don’t try to lose weight during your pregnancy as this may not be safe, and there is no evidence that losing weight will reduce the risks.
Women across Dorset with a BMI of 35 or more at their 12-week scan will be offered additional help and support throughout their pregnancy. This varies depending on which hospital you are attending for your antenatal care.
How your weight may affect your labour and delivery – PDF
How your weight may affect your labour and delivery – Word document