Exercise has been recommended during pregnancy for many years. In 1900, the nurses were expected to advise pregnant women to exercise and take rest. Today 30 minutes of moderate exercise would be advised which would provide the same health outcomes as for non pregnant women. In addition for pregnant women this exercise may bring relieve for minor ailments such as tiredness, leg oedema, back pain, constipation and morning sickness.
Exercise will also reduce the chances of excessive weight gain in pregnancy. Those ‘mothers to be’ who exercise during pregnancy will be more likely to return to an exercise programme after the birth of their baby which in turn will help the mother return to her pre pregnancy weight. It is particularly important for a mother to return to her pre pregnancy weight before having a second child to reduce the risk of obesity in later life.
We spend much time and resources on screening during pregnancy but exercise is often not addressed. Women need reassurance that exercise is safe and beneficial so long as the pregnancy is progressing normally.
Obese women and those who put on excessive weight during pregnancy tend to have bigger babies. If by exercising during pregnancy there is a slight decrease in the birth weight of those babies who are in the ‘large for gestational age range’ childhood obesity may be reduced, however, more research needs to be done.