During the pregnancy the woman experiences several gradual changes that occur from the first days of pregnancy and intensify until childbirth. These changes are hormonal and physiological, and happen due to the body’s need to promote conditions for adequate fetal development. These changes can cause pain and discomfort and, because of this, physical activity has been recommended as a preventive measure to reduce complications during pregnancy, and also to improve maternal-fetal health (ACOG, 2020).
The benefits of exercising during pregnancy include: less discomfort caused by postural changes; prevention of falls, prevention and treatment for pains, discomfort, and musculoskeletal injuries.
According to AGOC (2020), physical activities are safe for pregnant women and, therefore, expecting mothers should keep or start exercising, always assisted by professionals. According to Canadian (2019), if there is no medical recommendation, pregnant women should do at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity 3 times per week.
Expecting mothers should include in their program several exercises such as strength training, aerobic training, stretching, and yoga. However, they should maintain their usual activities, and should not take part in strenuous activities or activities with physical contact. In addition, choices regarding the intensity and the selection of exercises should also be carefully made with the help of a professional. Moreover, exercises should be adapted to each trimester of the pregnancy.
When selecting and prescribing exercises for a pregnant woman, anatomical and physiological changes such as weight gain and changes in the center of gravity must be taken into account, which, in many cases, lead to lower back pain. (AGOC, 2020).
It is estimated that less than 15% of pregnant women exercise following the 150 minutes recommendation.This contributes to the increase in cases of gestational complications. (Canadian, 2019). The lack of physical activity is the 4th main risk factor for mortality worldwide. During pregnancy, physical inactivity and excessive weight gain are risk factors for maternal obesity and pregnancy-related complications (AGOC, 2020). “Pregnancy is the ideal time to maintain or adopt a healthy lifestyle”(ACOG,2020).
Mottola, F Michelle etal, 2019 Canadian Guideline for Physical Activity Throughout Pregnancy. 2019.
ACOG (The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists), COMMITTEE OPINION, Physical Activity and Exercise During Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period. No 804,2020.