Pregnant women used to be encouraged to avoid exercise and stay immobile for the whole nine months. But these days, most experts agree that it is important for women to exercise and stay active before, during and after pregnancy.


Having a baby is a physically strenuous activity and there is no better time to keep fit, eat right and maintain a healthy lifestyle than when preparing for a child. If you have not been exercising previously, fret not, as it is never too late to start. Even for self-confessed couch potatoes, there is a gamut of activities that can be tailored for women at different fitness levels. Always remember it is best to double-check your fitness regime with your gynecologist before embarking on it.


• Benefits of keeping fit


Before conception: Getting fit can boost your overall health and increase your chances of conceiving.


During pregnancy: Looking good during pregnancy is often a by-product of regular exercise as it increases the blood flow to your skin, giving you a healthy glow.


After delivery: Exercise helps to speed up the post-partum recovery. Consistent exercise throughout the pregnancy reduces the amount of fat weight gained during pregnancy and it is much easier for a new mother to get back in shape. Pelvic-floor exercises before and after birth are also very helpful as they strengthen the muscles of the vaginal walls and help episiotomy incisions to heal faster.


• Exercises for every mum-to-be


Some safe activities are walking, swimming, aqua aerobics, dancing, stretching, and versions of yoga and Pilates specially crafted for pregnant mums. As the pregnancy progresses, it may be necessary to scale down the routine to accommodate your growing baby and belly.


A simple leg stretch can be done anywhere and any time. You can sit comfortably on a chair. Lift one leg and turn your ankle five times clockwise and five times anti-clockwise. Flex and point your foot five times. Spread the toes and relax for five times. Then repeat with the other leg.


• Tips for a healthy diet during pregnancy


- Avoid alcohol
- Keep caffeine to a minimum
- Maintain a balanced diet
- Double up on nutrition, not calories
- Avoid raw foods
- Drink plenty of water
- Take salty foods in moderation
- Take supplements

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