Exercise in Pregnancy and Post Pregnancy

A consultation with a specialist Sport and Exercise Physician can be advantageous in the preconception period, during pregnancy and in the post partum period. 

The purpose of a preconception consultation is to optimise the woman’s health and knowledge before planning and conceiving a pregnancy with the aim to reduce the risk of adverse health effects for the woman and her child. This applies to sedentary women, recreational exercisers and elite athletes who can all benefit from the advice and care of a specialist Sport and Exercise Physician. 

Physical activity in pregnancy has been shown to benefit most women by improving or maintaining physical fitness, helping with weight management and enhancing psychological well-being. 

The benefits of physical activity during pregnancy include: 

  • Improved muscular strength and endurance
  • Improved cardiovascular function and physical fitness
  • Decreased risk of pregnancy related complications such as hypertension and pre-eclampsia
  • Reduced pelvic and back pain
  • Reduced fatigue, stress, anxiety and depression
  • Decreased excessive gestational weight gain and post-partum weight retention
  • Fewer delivery complications
  • Prevention of urinary incontinence associated with pregnancy and childbirth

Pregnant women who want to continue or initiate an exercise program should be evaluated for medical and obstetric factors that may increase their risk for maternal or foetal complications. There are a small group of women in situations where the risk of physical activity during pregnancy is likely to outweigh the benefit. A specialist Sport and Exercise Physician can provide this assessment and ongoing care during pregnancy in conjunction with your obstetrician or mid wife. 

Pregnancy and childbirth impacts the maternal musculoskeletal system in a similar way to an acute sports injury. Substantial adaptations of pregnancy occur to a woman’s body during pregnancy and all these changes don’t reverse immediately on giving birth. A specialist Sport and Exercise Physician can provide you with a thorough post partum consultation in conjunction with your obstetrician, mid wife or women’s health physiotherapist and help design an individualised plan for return to physical activity for both recreational and elite athletes. An ideal time to perform this assessment is 6 weeks post partum, however this may be earlier for elite athletes wishing to return to professional sport. 

Related links:
Benefits of Physical Activity During Pregnancy
Exercise in Early Pregnancy
Maternal Changes During Pregnancy
Musculoskeletal Complications of Pregnancy
Recommendations for Exercise During Pregnancy
Returning to Sport After Pregnancy