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Dossier: Active during pregnancy

Sport during pregnancy

Mums-to-be don’t have to give up on sport. In fact, gentle exercise is good for both you and your unborn baby. Which sports are suitable to do during pregnancy? And what do expectant mothers have to watch out for?

When you’re pregnant, it’s important never to train alone. Your baby’s pulse rate also increases when you do exercise, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s even recommended that you do sport during pregnancy. Regular exercise helps build up muscles, strength and endurance, all of which prevent or ease common pregnancy-related complaints such as back pain, water retention and muscular aches and pains. Sport also improves blood circulation, which reduces the risk of thrombosis and has a positive impact on blood lipids and blood sugar. This helps avoid excessive weight gain and prevent gestational diabetes. Last but not least, women who exercise during pregnancy are physically fit for the birth and usually recover more quickly afterwards. However, women classed as a high-risk pregnancy should be careful and must consult their doctor before doing any sport.

Which sports are best during pregnancy?

Expectant mums who did a lot of sport before pregnancy can continue their training. Up to the end of the third month, mums-to-be can even keep doing competitive sport, but they are recommended to ease up as they start the 2nd trimester. Moderate training is recommended for all other expectant mums, with a recommendation to listen to their body and not to let ambition set the pace.

  • Moderate endurance sports such as cycling, jogging and walking
  • Aquafit and swimming – sport in water is recommended, because water gives buoyancy and reduces the weight that the body normally carries itself. This takes the pressure off the joints.
  • Yoga – but don’t do inversion poses after the 32nd week of pregnancy, because this may make the baby turn into a breech position
  • Aerobics – don’t push yourself to the limit

Sports to be avoided

Don’t do extreme or high-risk sports during pregnancy. Falls and bumps can seriously injure the unborn child and, under certain circumstances, it can be difficult to provide medical care for injured pregnant women. Avoid doing sport in hot weather and strong sunlight.

  • Sports with quick, jarring movements such as tennis and squash
  • Team sports where there is the risk of falling and injury, such as basketball, volleyball
  • Sports where there is the risk of falling, such as horse riding, inline skating, ice-skating, skiing and snowboarding
  • Martial arts

Abdominal exercises and strength training during pregnancy?

It’s OK to do strength training when you’re pregnant. Mums-to-be should definitely train their pelvic floor muscles, and the lateral and oblique abdominal muscles should also be strengthened. However, from the 20th week of pregnancy, expectant mothers shouldn’t do abdominal exercises for the straight stomach muscles, such as crunches or classic sit ups. From the last trimester of pregnancy onwards, avoid strength and abdominal exercises in which you lie on your back. In general, correctly executed and moderate training strengthens the stomach, back and pelvic floor – and this is good for pregnant women. Use lighter weights, keep a straight posture and avoid abrupt movements.

Sport during pregnancy: what you need to know

  • Exercise regularly. Doing sport twice a week is ideal.
  • Don’t push yourself to your limit and make sure your pulse remains steady. 
  • Wear good trainers and be careful. The risk of injury is higher during pregnancy, because the ligaments and tendons are softened, which makes the joints less stable.
  • Drink plenty of water or unsweetened tea during and after exercising.
  • Sport shouldn’t be seen as a replacement for antenatal exercise. In antenatal exercise classes you’ll learn breathing techniques and special exercises designed to ease the delivery.