Staying Active: Pregnancy and Mum & Baby
Pregnancy and coronavirus: information for pregnant women and new mums can be found here at Tommy's.
About this page
Being physically active before, during and after pregnancy brings huge benefits to both you and your baby but it can be confusing what you should and shouldn't do and where to start. Here we bring together information from UK trusted sources such as the NHS to help you feel confident and safe getting active for you and your baby.
This page is split into four sections, so depending on what stage of pregnancy you are in, select a link below to take you to the area of the page most suitable.
Diary of an Active Mum
Wherever you are on your parenting journey, getting and staying active can be a real challenge, as our SASP team member Laura Carter is currently finding during her pregnancy. Follow her journey as she tries to find new ways to stay fit and healthy in mind and body without her usual go-to activity of netball.
Why be active
There are many benefits of being active when trying to conceive, such as a better labour, improved mental health and reduced risk of gestational diabetes (diabetes of pregnancy) and pre-eclampsia (pregnancy problems of high blood pressure).
Planning your exercise
See Tommy's for more information on how to start exercise gradually if you are inactive, how to continue to be active if you already exercise, and to find out more about how exercise and body weight can affect fertility.
Building up to the suggested physical activity levels for adults in the UK (see infographic to the right) is a great place to start but if you were not this active before start slowly and build gradually.
Body weight matters
Take a look at the NHS pages on secrets to success for more information on how your weight affects fertility and pregnancy and for useful tips on how to achieve a healthy weight, or manage your pregnancy if you are overweight.
Activities you can try
Home workouts and more - The Sport England Join the Movement campaign has loads of home exercise and activities you can follow along with.
To get outside for some fresh air you could try walking, jogging or cycling, but be sure to follow the current government guidelines on social distancing. How about increasing your walking and daily step count using a fitness app such as the Active 10 app or the Moving Medicine step counting booklet. Or why not try jogging and give the Couch to 5k programme a go? Go from couch potato to running 5k in just 30 minutes a day, 3 days a week for 9 weeks. Cycling is also a great way to improve and maintain mental and physical health. British Cycling have guidance on how to get out on your bike while following the government guidance on COVID-19.
What does the recommended amount of physical activity look like as sessions across a week? And how can we use all these activities to get fitter and keep to a healthy weight? The NHS have put together a 12 week programme using their free content that you can access here to get you started.
Want to set a personal goal but not sure where to start? Why not try using the Moving Medicine goal setting booklet to turn your ideas into SMART goals.
Follow updates on the government website and the RCOG website for information about the government guidelines for pregnant women during the COVID-19 pandemic.
They are suggesting pregnant women be particularly stringent following social distancing (see information in the links above).
Why be active
There are loads of health benefits of moderate intensity exercising during pregnancy such as improved mood and sleep, a better labour and finding it easier to get back in shape after birth. There is no evidence that it will harm your baby but there are a few things to consider as your pregnancy progresses so we have brought together the key sources of information available to help you feel confident to enjoy an active pregnancy.
Planning your exercise
For the greatest health benefits for you and your baby, aim for the recommended physical activity for pregnant women (see infographic right) of 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per week broken down however works best for you, 30 minutes a day, 10 minutes at a time – every minute counts!
If you were inactive before, start slowly, if you are active already keep going. Listen to your body and adapt as your pregnancy progresses and avoid activities where you may bump your bump. If you have any concerns about what physical activity is right for you speak to you midwife or GP. You will have days when you are not feeling great, you will just need to rest and that's fine, but doing what you can when you can will help you feel better and keep you and baby healthier overall.
There is lots of information on the NHS website about exercising when pregnant including what exercise is good to do, what to avoid, and specific exercises to try like pelvic tilts and pelvic floor exercises. Videos on how to do these exercises can be found at the This Mum Moves website.
The NHS website also has info on eating a healthy diet while pregnant, including what a healthy diet looks like which foods to avoid.
Check out the NHS physical activity for women during pregnancy information booklet on the Moving Medicine website. It breaks down the key considerations for pregnant women when exercising by trimester and provides a complete overview of how to exercise.
Ordinarily activities like exercise classes and swimming are recommended during pregnancy, however due to COVID-19 these activities are on hold for a while.
Ordinarily if attending an exercise class you would let your instructor know you are pregnant so they can make adaptations for you so this isn't possible stick with pregnancy specific workouts and listen to your body and adapt. See below for a selection of the free at home pregnancy workouts we at SASP like best!
You can also check out our fellow Active Partnership, Active Cheshire, and their Active Mum's page with lots of great resources to help keep Mums active at home.
Activities you can try
Tiff from SASP has put together a gentle 30 minute home workout suitable for all stages of pregnancy.
For an overview of the workout that you can do in your own time check out the video to the right.
Let us know how you get on with it on our socials (see the links at the top of this page). Have a great workout!
Follow our full 30 minute workout video to get lots of great tips and instruction to make sure you're doing the exercises with good technique and getting the most out of your workout.
Would you like to see more workouts like this? Or perhaps this isn't for you and you'd like something else? Get in touch with us via out socials (top of this page) or our contact details (bottom of this page) so we can create the kind of content you want.
Alternatively you can view, download or print the workout card.
Following the workout card or doing your own thing? Below is a pregnancy warm-up and cool-down you can use to rev up or wind down from your chosen workout.
If you are already walking then keep going! If not you could start and build up gradually. Why not try pre-natal yoga, you can access this via the free NHS pre and post-natal yoga class. Feeling a bit stressed out with everything that's going on? Trey meditation and unwind using the free NHS bedtime meditation session.
Home pregnancy workouts - join Juanita Steel LIVE on Facebook for befit4baby pregnancy workouts every Monday and Wednesday at 11am. If you miss the live stream sessions you can watch them back anytime.
For information on coronavirus for new mums see Tommy's page on Pregnancy and coronavirus: information for pregnant women and new mums.
Why be active
Once you have had your baby you will want to rest and enjoy the wonderful yet challenging whirlwind that is having a new baby! Exercise may seem like the last thing on your mind but when you feel ready, or when your health care team say you can, building up your activity levels will bring a host of benefits to you and your baby, such as helping you get back in shape and reducing feelings of worry and depression.
Planning your exercise
Initially follow any advice you have been given by doctors, physios, midwives and health visitors regarding your recovery and activity. When you feel ready to start planning your activity. Take a look at the NHS keeping fit and healthy with your baby page with info on when to start exercising, things to be aware of, how to know if you're overdoing it, exercise ideas, mental health tips and healthy eating advice and more.
Our bodies change a lot during and after pregnancy so it is important to take these things into consideration when planning what exercise we will do. Read the NHS your post pregnancy body page for more info.
Check out the This Mum Moves website for videos on simple exercises you can do to help you recover from pregnancy and childbirth including pelvic floor exercises and gentle tummy exercises. These are a great place to start. Why not start with the video on the right from This Mum Moves to learn more about your pelvic floor and how to do pelvic floor exercises.
Are you breastfeeding and ready to start getting a bit more active? Check out our handy exercise and breastfeeding infographic for information on how exercising when breastfeeding is safe for mum and baby, has loads of benefits for you both, and for some top tips on how to not let breastfeeding hold you back from getting active.
Activities you can try
When you feel stronger and feel ready to start getting your activity levels up, a good target is to build up the UK guidelines for activity for women after childbirth (see the infographic above). There are many ways you could do this but a great place to start is with post-natal specific exercise sessions as they are designed to specifically target areas of weakness post pregnancy and child birth such as the pelvic floor and core strength while going at your own pace so you don't push too hard too soon.
Home post-natal exercise workouts - a great example of these are the Les Mills free post-pregnancy exercise sessions that offer a progressive exercise programme to gradually build your strength and fitness. They use weights in their videos but these are not necessary – bottles of water or squash, or food tins would do just fine!
Walking is a fantastic way to get your heart beating faster to build fitness while getting out for fresh air. You could try increasing your daily step count using a fitness app such as the Active 10 app or the Moving Medicine step counting booklet.
Be sure to follow the government guidelines around social distancing.
Staying active with your baby / toddler and getting them active too
Why be active
Whether you've already been getting more active or not, its never too late to start at whatever age you or your kids are.
There are huge benefits of being active when you have a baby, a toddler, or both. Exercise can feel like yet another thing on a long and exhausting to-do list but, it's false economy to skip it as being fitter and stronger means better sleep, improved mood having more energy to tackle all the other challenges of daily life as a parent. Some days you will be knackered and just need to flop on the sofa and rest or go to bed early and that's totally okay. Just make sure its not every day and you might be surprised, sometimes gentle activity can give you an instant energy boost.
By getting active regularly you will not only boost your own health but that of your kids. You are their biggest role model! Physical activity is key to their current and future health and the more active you are the more active they will be too.
Planning your exercise
A great place to start is to build up to the recommended amount of physical activity for women after childbirth in the first year, then progress to the amount recommended for adults (see infographics below, left and middle).
It's also time to start thinking about your little one's activity levels so aim to get them up to at least the activity levels recommended for ages 0-5 years (infographic below, right). Why not try getting active it together?
Listen to your body, take rest when you need to and just do what you can. You will make progress, then fall off the band waggon (maybe baby is teething or the kids or you are ill) but don't worry, just scale things back for a bit and start slowly again. Keep going mama you're making great progress, even if it doesn't feel like it sometimes!
Activities you can try
Getting active when you have a baby or toddler can be a great way to spend time and have fun together. Equally, it can be one of the few times you get out or have some time for you so go with what feels right.
Below we have put together some suggestions for ways you can get active with or without baby.
Dancing with your baby is a great way to lift your heart rate and your mood! It can build activity into your day while you spend some fun time with baby boosting their development and activity too. Why not sing and dance along as you introduce baby to some of your favourite Disney songs with the Disney dance alongs? Alternatively you could put on some of your favourite music to sing and dance to and bring baby along for the ride, or just freestyle to some of your favourite tunes.
Tiff has been introducing Flo to one her favourites, the little mermaid under the sea!
Fancy dancing without baby? You could try the free dance sessions at Les Mills. If baby or toddler are in the room with you keep an eye on where they are in case they wander up behind you!
Singing and nursery rhymes are a great way to bond with baby and boost their development. Check out Tiny Happy People, a BBC resource created to give us parents ideas on how we can build our baby and toddler's worlds through language, play and movement. For example, did you know when a baby dances they not only improve their coordination but get a release of endorphins making them feel good!
Singing and dancing can be also be a great opportunity for you to get active too. Why not try doing your favourite (or most needed) exercises while singing nursery rhymes with baby? Tiff had a go at squat holds while singing Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes with Flo (video to the right), and added planks to Hop Little Bunnies which you can find here.
What nursery rhyme-exercise combinations can you think of? Get in touch to let us know if this works for you and your little one to get active and have fun together.
Home exercise workouts - mum and baby workouts will help to work on those post pregnancy problem areas so you could start, or continue with, the Les Mills free post-pregnancy exercise sessions for example. Les Mills also have a range of free workouts you can try, including body combat, HIIT and total body sessions.
Feeling a bit done in by all the news reports? Take a break from it all and unwind with this 15 minute free guided meditation.
Some instructors are continuing their mum and baby classes online during the current lock down. For example, Mum Fit are offering your first class free!
If you feel ready then now you can get back to, or start doing, home exercise sessions that are aimed at everyone, not just new mums. You'll probably find baby will enjoy watching you move or will instinctively join in! You may find you can include them instead of using weights. Why not check out he This Girl Can home exercise page for more info and take a look through the Sport England Stay Home Workout links to find something that looks right for you. Below are just a few of our favourites.
Visit the NHS fitness studio for aerobic sessions, strength workouts, yoga, Pilates and more.
This beginner Pilates session is a great place to start. Although it says it is for lower back pain it targets the same weakened core muscles us mums have trouble with post pregnancy so its great for getting back in shape and preventing back problems.
Yoga can be a great way to destress but also great for tackling some of the reduced flexibility us new mums experience, such as tight shoulders and hips. Adriene has loads of free sessions on her You Tube channel you can explore. Never done yoga before? Why not start with her Yoga for beginners session.
Walking and jogging - get out and get some fresh air using your one bout of exercise a day to either take a walk with baby or toddler in a carrier, buggy, push along trike or other contraption! Or take the opportunity to get some head space and head out alone. These are a great way to boost your cardiovascular fitness while also helping beat stress and cabin fever! Be sure to follow the government guidelines around social distancing.
Fancy trying jogging, returning to it, or just want a bit of structure to your jogging work outs? Why not give the Couch to 5k programme a go – it can get you started or works well to provide intervals of harder and easier work, one of the best ways to progress your fitness. You could try increasing your daily step count using a fitness app such as the Active 10 app or the Moving Medicine step counting booklet.
Cycling is a great way to improve and maintain mental and physical health. British cycling have guidance on how to get out on your bike while following the government guidance on COVID-19 so you could either get out on your own or if you have a pull along buggy or bike seat you could bring baby along too!
Cycling UK have loads of info on how to make cycling easier and more accessible to all. Check out their guide on family cycling during coronavirus here.
12 week programme - what does the recommended amount of physical activity look like as sessions across a week? And how can we use all these activities to get fitter and keep to a healthy weight? There is so much great free content out there you WILL find something you enjoy! But it can be a bit bamboozling figuring out how to bring it all together in a way that will give you the maximum health and energy boost. The NHS have put together a 12 week programme using their free content that you can access here to get you started, or to give you an idea of how to structure similar sessions across the weeks.
Set a goal - want to set a personal goal and not sure where to start? Why not try using the Moving Medicine goal setting booklet to turn your ideas into SMART goals.
Staying active as a family at home - checkout our be active at home page for children and families at the SASP website for loads more ideas on how to keep active with your family while staying at home.