Exercise in Pregnancy: How Much is Too Much?

There has been much controversy over the past couple of years, particularly across social media channels regarding pictures and articles which have shown or reported pregnant women exercising throughout their pregnancies. In 2013 Zara Phillips, a keen horsewoman and the Queen’s granddaughter was publicly criticised in many circles for her decision to continue competing while pregnant.

Other names which hit the headlines included the LA body-builder Lea-Anne Ellison who posted pictures of herself lifting weights a fortnight before she was due to give birth and UK athlete Paula Radcliffe for running during her pregnancy.

All of these women were subjected to a high level of criticism (at best) while the minority were keen to point out that all of these babies were born healthy and well and that the mothers continued to enjoy the same health benefits.  Lets find out what the experts recommend for exercise in pregnancy.

The NHS Recommendations

The NHS advise that the fitter and more active you are during pregnancy the easier labour may be, or the better you will cope with labour and that it will be easier to “adapt to your changing shape and weight gain”. Those not exercising regularly should not take this up in pregnancy however those already physically active are free to continue to be. The key is to slow down as your pregnancy progresses as, when and if you need to.

The NHS clearly state that exercise is not harmful to the baby and while all pregnant ladies may not feel like exercising those who do are fine to continue.

Read the full NHS guidance on pregnancy and exercise here.

Listening to Your Body

It would appear that when deciding how much exercise is right during pregnancy that the mother needs to listen to her own body. She will know how she feels and what she can cope with and enjoy exercise-wise. Further advice and/or guidance may be found via your midwife who will discuss exercise levels based on individual circumstances.

pregnancy and exercise

Mother Shaming

While the guidance is clear and more often than not this issue is one governed by common sense this issue opens the door to another, the practice of mother shaming. Often on social media and of course out in the “real world” people naturally have their own opinions on what is right and what is wrong. What does seem to happen more often these day is that people use their own opinions to attack others with.

For example, someone who believes horse riding and weight-lifting in pregnancy is not safe has every right (freedom of speech) to believe that and to share that in an appropriate way. An appropriate way however is not to call someone a bad mother, to participate or encourage in online or offline bullying, including name calling and in some situations even participating in anti-social and threatening behaviour.

Here at More4Mums we firmly believe that parents have the right to make their own decisions regarding parenting styles, pregnancy choices etc (within the law obviously) and have been stunned to see such blatant mother shaming in the press and online.

Has anyone else witnessed or been a victim of this type of bulling? As far as your exercise levels in pregnancy goes we would advise anyone to consider the NHS guidlines and discuss individual needs with supporting health staff.

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