Are you an expectant mum? Would you like to be fit and active during your pregnancy, but are unsure how to go about it? You’re not alone.

Exercise, as long as it is carefully managed, is not dangerous for your baby. Evidence suggests active women are less likely to experience problems in pregnancy and labour. Active women will be better able to manage weight gain, with exercise enthusiasts putting on an average of 7lbs less than their sedentary sisters. They also cut their risk of developing gestational diabetes and pre-natal depression, as well as other less serious problems such as leg swelling, morning sickness and tiredness.

If you already have an active lifestyle, there’s no reason why pregnancy should put a stop to your regular routine. If you love to swim, jog or do an exercise class, you can stick at it as long as you take a moderate approach. However, if you’ve been out of exercise for a while, pregnancy is not the time to take up strenuous exercise. Instead, start with 15 minutes gentle exercise three times a week and gradually increase this to four 30-minute sessions. Walk as often as you can.

Here are a few more dos and don’ts:

1. Drink plenty of water during exercise. Dehydration can set off a chain reaction that could lead to a reduced amount of blood reaching the placenta. This increases your risk of overheating and could trigger contractions.

2. Don’t exercise in very hot weather. Increased blood flow and a higher metabolic rate during pregnancy mean you’ll feel warmer than usual during exercise. To avoid overheating, exercise in cool conditions, drink water and take regular breaks.

3. Don’t lie on your front. Not only is this uncomfortable, but it could be harmful to your baby.

4. Don’t lie on your back. This is particularly important after 16 weeks. The weight of your bump may press on the main blood vessel that brings blood back to your heart, making you feel faint.

5. Always warm up. A warm up preps the body for exercise, reducing the risk of muscle strain and aches and pains afterwards.

6. Don’t hyperextend when stretching. During pregnancy, your body is flooded with the hormone relaxin. Its purpose is to relax the pelvis and widen the cervix in preparation for childbirth. However, its effects aren’t restricted to the ligaments in your reproductive area and you’ll find you’re super flexible during pregnancy. It’s therefore important to be mindful of muscle damage and avoid over stretching.

7. Keep moving. Standing still for too long during exercise can reduce blood flow to your heart and uterus and cause blood to pool in your legs. This can lower your blood pressure and make you feel faint.

8. Take care when changing positions. Your centre of gravity shifts as your bump grows, so be careful when switching positions. Getting up too quickly could make you feel dizzy and cause a fall.

9. Eat enough calories. If your BMI is normal, you’ll need an extra 340 calories per day in the second trimester and an extra 450 in the third.

10. Skip dangerous sports. Unfortunately pregnancy does not mix with high risk sports such as martial arts, basketball, football, skiing and riding.

A qualified instructor can ensure you make the necessary adaptations during pregnancy and assist you with exercises that are particularly beneficial such as training for your back and pelvic floor. If you would like further information about how to be fit for pregnancy, do not hesitate to contact me.