How hard should you exercise when trying for a baby?

Over the last six months we have been seeing a personal trainer once a week – his name’s Jim and he used to be an army physical instructor. He’s so fantastic – he really keeps us motivated. We do circuits that combine strength training with lots of running for cardiovascular fitness, and I am fitter and stronger than I’ve ever been in my whole life. It’s awful and painful, but no pain no gain and all that. I also play tennis and go to a pilates class once a week and walk to and from work (a mile each way) every day – so I’m pretty fit.

I have been worrying about whether doing this high intensity exercise with the trainer once a week could be damaging my chances of getting pregnant – I know that being fit boosts fertility, but am I risking an embryo not implanting properly if I’m straining around? Plus, lifting anything heavy is supposed to increase the risk of miscarriage, isn’t it?

Well, I’ve done some research today and it sounds like it’s OK to carry on with proper exercise whilst pregnant – and that exercise is in fact a good thing. Here’s the NHS website on this: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/pregnancy-exercise.aspx#close. I found the following three points to be the most useful advice from this page:

  • don’t increase the intensity of what you’re used to – so carry on with the level of exercise you were doing before pregnancy;
  • you need to be able to hold a conversation while you exercise, otherwise it’s too strenuous for when you’re pregnant;
  • you shouldn’t lie on your back after 16 weeks as it can make you feel faint.

There are also some good suggestions for exercises to do – lots of them seem to be pilates based. In general I would recommend pilates to anyone, pregnant or not – it has changed my life and helped me cure a back problem. More about that in a later post! But it seems that, for pregnancy, pilates also really helps to stabilise the pelvis and can help avoid Pubic Symphysis Disfunction. My pilates teacher has written a great article on this, and on exercise in general while pregnant, called Pilates 4 Pregnancy: http://www.pilates4life.co.uk/is-pilates-for-me/pilates4pregnancy – it talks about being careful with posture and lists a few exercises that can be really dangerous to do, like sit ups.

No more sit ups for me then. What a tragedy…

The What to Expect website has some good information about strength training: http://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/keeping-fit/options-for-everyone-strength-and-toning.aspx. Again this suggests that I can carry on with weight training as long as I’m not straining or holding my breath.

I’m concluding that I can carry on exercising with my trainer, Jim, but that I should lower the intensity of what I’m doing. He suggested that lots of brisk walking, swimming and tennis would be good. Sounds perfect!

I’m still not sure about exercise during conception. Am I going to ruin my chances for a successful implantation? Everything I’ve read so far suggests that only excessive exercise would have a negative effect, and only then because it might reduce body fat so much that foetal and placental growth are affected. I can’t find anything about impact or stretching affecting conception, so I’m going to try not to worry and carry on exercising – I’ll just make sure I’m not pushing myself to the limits.

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