Are Pre and Postnatal Exercises Important?  
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Are Pre and Postnatal Exercises Important?

Physio&SoleClinic Physiotherapy, Pre & Postnatal August 15 2022

We understand that there are a lot of excuses not to exercise when we are pregnant. Some common ones we have heard include: I’m too tired, my legs are swollen, my belly gets in the way, I feel too heavy, I have to pee every 10 minutes, etc. 

While these concerns and complaints are valid, do you know that doing a bit of prenatal exercises daily helps you have a healthier pregnancy,grow a healthier baby and provides you with a better labour experience and an easier time after birth? That’s because easing into any type of workout during and after pregnancy provides many long-term benefits to your fitness plan and overall health. Read on as we share more. 

The Importance Of Pre And Postnatal Exercises

Generally, exercising boosts well-being in all stages of life. However, it becomes particularly essential for expectant and new mothers owing to the following benefits: 

Improves emotional health

Exercising releases happy hormones known as endorphins in your body. This, in turn, helps to balance out the hormonal changes you go through during and after pregnancy, as well as reduce any anxiety and stress you feel. According to a study done in 2019, exercising is also the best way to improve the quality of life of new mothers and reduce the symptoms of postpartum depression. 

Improves physical health

Pre and postnatal exercises can help to improve muscle strength and endurance to keep you fit — translating to an improved ability to cope with labour. Doing the right exercises can also help alleviate backaches and promote better circulation, preventing constipation, bloating, and swelling of the ankles. Furthermore, by maintaining a certain fitness level during pregnancy, you will be less likely to gain more than the recommended increase in weight. Excess weight gain may increase your risk of health complications like gestational diabetes. 

Prenatal Exercises 

The exercises considered safe for a pregnant woman usually include brisk walking or aerobic exercises like, swimming, stretching, yoga, or pilates. It will be prudent to steer clear of contact sports such as boxing and hockey, as well as activities like cycling, that may put you at risk of falling. 

Typically, you can start on aerobic exercises from the first trimester onwards till delivery. If you have a smartwatch, you should use it to keep track of your heart rate – ensure that it does not exceed 60-80% of the maximum heart rate threshold and keep to no more than 140 beats per minute. It is also crucial for you to stay well hydrated before, during,  and after your exercise. 

As the bodies of pregnant women change very quickly, it is good to be mindful of the exercises that are better suited for each stage of pregnancy. Besides aerobic exercises, there are other exercises to focus on that can help you make pregnancy easier and prepare you for childbirth. An area of importance is to work on body awareness to prepare for changes in your posture. Hence, these are the  exercises you can consider:

  • Side-lying leg lifts to boost pelvic stability
  • Mermaid stretches to reduce the pain you feel in your ribs and diaphragm
  • Hip flexors and quadricep stretches 
  • Clamshell exercises to strengthen your glutes.

Postnatal Exercises

The primary goal of postnatal exercises is to move your body and do activities that make you feel good. With that in mind, the area that will need tender loving care after giving birth will be your core. Rebuilding your core strength helps to provide back support and reduce lower back aches. But, you should avoid exercising for at least after your first postnatal checkup. 

Once your doctor has given you the green light to do postnatal exercises, you can start with simple core exercises like 

  • Side-lying leg lifts
  • Postpartum planks
  • Cat-cow stretches in tabletop position 

In addition to core exercises, you should also continue doing Kegels. If you have done it throughout your pregnancy, there is a high chance that your body remembers how to do it. Making this a part of your postnatal exercise routine can help you strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and reduce the risks of developing urinary incontinence

Basic Pre And Postnatal Exercise Guidelines

While the exercises listed above give you a general idea of what you can do, it is still important to take the necessary precautions to keep yourself safe when exercising. It is advisable to talk to your doctor or a women’s health physiotherapist before attempting any exercises that may be strenuous. 

In conclusion, most exercises should be safe for healthy mothers-to-be and new mothers as long as they are done in moderation. If you are unsure if it’s safe to continue some of your workouts during pregnancy, you can always check with your obstetrician or women’s health physiotherapist. At the Women’s And Children Centre, our women’s health specialists are experienced in addressing pregnancy-related pelvic girdle or back pain problems and recommending pre and postnatal exercises to strengthen your muscles.

We can help. Contact us to schedule an appointment today.

Physio & Sole Clinic

Phone: 9126 8257

Fax: 6281 1209


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