Taking care of yourself in pregnancy is important

Getting enough rest is important during pregnancy, but this does not mean avoiding exercise. Combined with a healthy nutritious diet, mild to moderate exercise helps to reduce the risk of raised blood pressure, diabetes and other conditions that may lead to complications during pregnancy. Check with your midwife or doctor before beginning a new sport or exercise.

Physical activity:

  • Keeps your heart and lungs fit, which helps a lot during labour
  • Gives you muscle strength – you’ll need to be strong to carry your baby, the baby bag, the car seat and every other baby equipment!
  • Improves posture which helps you avoid the backache common in pregnancy
  • May reduce the length of labour and the need for intervention and pain relief
  • Can ease problems common in pregnancy such as leg cramps, high blood pressure and constipation
  • Improves circulation, which helps to prevent varicose veins
  • Helps you avoid putting on excess weight
  • Improves your stamina during pregnancy and for the sleepless nights ahead!
  • Helps you feel good about yourself.


What activities can I do?

Even though you may hear your Pacific grandmother, mother or aunty say exercising will harm the baby, movement is encouraged and you will be able to engage in light activity.  Firstly, do not compare yourself with your sister or friend who goodness knows how, may have managed to jog and play sports throughout most of her pregnancy.  What you do during pregnancy should be relative to your existing fitness level.  In other words, if you were a couch potato before you became pregnant, it wouldn’t be advisable to take up jogging now.  Of course if you’re a marathon runner, you’d be more likely to sustain safe jogging during the first two semesters.  Be flexible and realistic.  Start with walking if you did not exercise prior to becoming pregnant.

Your ability and skill level will change as your baby grows and your weight redistributes.  Listen to your body.  If you’re tired – put your feet up!

Walking is great.  Even a kilometre (10 minutes) a day will ease aching legs and sore backs and help you maintain physical fitness.  Take it slowly and rest as often as you need.  Walk with a friend at work during your lunch break, walk around the office every hour or inside a mall if it is raining.

Swimming is an excellent way to exercise during pregnancy.  Swimming is easy on your body because the water supports most of your extra weight.  Water should be warm.  It is safe to swim while the pregnancy sac membranes are intact and there is no threat of premature labour.

Low impact aerobics, exercise programmes and yoga are fine.  Some gyms run classes specifically for pregnant women.  Yoga can be good too, but take time to find the right class and avoid excessive stretching as your ligaments are softened.

For more information, go to Sport New Zealand) Sport NZ (formerly called SPARC) or view their brochure ‘Pregnancy and Activity


Content provided by Mary Anne Penberthy

Mary Anne Penberthy is a community midwife currently working for WDHB Waitakere. She qualified as a Midwife in 1998 and has worked for both ADHB and WDHB. She lives in West Auckland and is very lucky to have two grown up sons and one grandson. Mary Anne is of Samoan descent (Samoan Mother and Kiwi Father ). She has a very Pacific heart and loves working with Pacific mothers and their families, passing on knowledge and supporting them to improve their own health outcomes.