Exercising During Pregnancy Makes Labor More Bearable

Creative Commons License photo credit: GordonMcDowell

Until fairly recently, it was unusual to find a doctor who recommended that pregnant women begin an exercise routine. Most doctors agreed that it was safe during the first two trimesters for pregnant women to continue with a level of exercise they were already accustomed to. However, the notion that you should start exercising or increase your level of activity after becoming pregnant was flatly discouraged.

That trend is beginning to be reversed. In the past year, Canada’s Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, together with the country’s Society for Exercise Physiology has begun to recommend that pregnant women actively exercise.

Both cardio workouts and strength exercise are recommended for most low risk pregnancies. Of course, it is still suggested that any pregnant woman consult her doctor personally before beginning any specific training regimen. But these days, most women will find that their doctors encourage them to exercise while pregnant.

Recent studies suggest that regular exercise during pregnancy may even make labor more bearable for some women. This is in addition to the obvious benefit of improving the mother’s overall health and sense of well-being

We’re not suggesting that pregnant women who have never exercised before should suddenly take up Tae Bo. Nor are we suggesting that women who exercise during pregnancy can expect and easy and pain free delivery. Common sense tells us otherwise. But if regular exercise can help make delivering your baby even a little bit easier when the time comes, isn’t it worth it?

Here are some exercises which are particularly appropriate during pregnancy:

  • Walking. You don’t need a gym membership or any special equipment for walking, and you can easily adjust your pace based on your ability and energy level.
  • Swimming. Not only does it work out muscles that other workouts don’t, but it can also be very relaxing.
  • Low impact aerobics. Aerobic workouts which strengthen the core can be especially beneficial for making delivery more bearable.
  • Strength training. Consult your doctor or a physical trainer who has experience working with pregnant women before beginning a regimen, but don’t be afraid to add some strength training, to your workouts. Pilates can be especially well suited for many pregnant women.

If you were exercising regularly before you became pregnant, keep it up. If you weren’t, talk with your doctor about starting a low impact exercise program and the benefits it can offer when it comes time for labor and delivery.

Other than those listed, what exercises have you found to help you stay in shape during your pregnancy? Do you think they’ll help make labor and delivery easier?



  • Even for those who are not pregnant, starting to exercise for the first time in ages needs a cautious approach. It’s not really about “no pain, no gain” anymore – that’s vey old school. I remember at my gym watching a pregnant women do a boxing class and I wondered if it was the best thing for her. I guess every woman has to know her limits to some extent.

    I can’t imagine not exercising and staying fit. Although sometimes it takes a bit of effort to get off the couch and exercise! I admire pregnant women who both make the time to exercise and also can keep their discipline going in what must be an unusual time of their lives.


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