Should you exercise during pregnancy? Yes!

Pregnancy is an incredibly exciting time of life, but it can also be a time where you feel unsure about all of the things you should and should not do. A lot of women who have always been active wonder if they can continue to train the way they have previously, while others who have been more sedentary feel they cannot start anything new as their changing body isn’t yet used to it.

It’s time to clear some things up for you!!

Unless you have a high-risk pregnancy exercise is not only a good idea, it is actually so incredibly important for both your health and the health of your baby!!

Due to all of the misconceptions out there on exercising during and after pregnancy, an Expert Committee from the IOC was formed to specifically look at exercise and pregnancy in both recreational and elite athletes. Their recommendations are as follows:

In absences of maternal or fetal contraindications, exercise prescription in pregnancy includes the same principles and elements used for the non-pregnant population.

BUT it is important or remember and work with someone who understands the changes associated with pregnancy, which the IOC committee list as “significant anatomical, hormonal, metabolic, cardiovascular and pulmonary changes/adaptions.”

What does this mean?

That pregnant women should continue to incorporate exercise (or start to exercise)! In fact, the article continues on to state that there is very strong evidence that strength training both in general and of the pelvic floor muscles during this time can both prevent and treat urinary incontinence during pregnancy and after birth. It is also associated with a shorter first stage of labour.

Are there any signs you should slow down?

The IOC Committee explains that women without contraindications should exercise regularly during pregnancy while being regularly assessed. They indicate the following signs to indicate it may be time to stop exercising:

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Regular painful contractions
  • Amniotic fluid leakage
  • Dyspnoea (shortness of breath) prior to exertion
  • Dizziness/syncope (fainting)
  • Headache
  • Chest pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Calf pain or swelling

What about Post-Partum?

The birth of your child is a wonderful moment, but it also can very much impact Mom’s musculoskeletal system, with delivery being likened to an acute sports injury. Therefore, deciding when and how to return to exercise can sometimes be more complex and multifactorial. This is why it is important to seek the help of a pelvic health physiotherapist who can guide you based on your needs and your rehabilitation goals.

The IOC committee encourage exercise in the post-partum period should start gradually with a pelvic floor muscle first focus.

Key Take-Aways:

– Exercise before, during and after pregnancy is so important for both the health of you but also for your baby

– In the absence of high-risk pregnancies, exercise is safe and beneficial as long as the anatomical and physiological changes that mom undergoes are considered

– Monitor your body during exercise and be followed/assessed regularly by a skilled coach or practitioner who is experienced in working with pre and post-natal clients.

– Begin exercise post-partum slowly and under the guidance of a professional who can help you take a pelvic floor first approach to strength training

Find this awesome research article, here.

And to find out more about exercise during pregnancy, follow the amazing @coach_vanessagiguere on instagram (she is the one above in the photo, rocking the prowler while in her third trimester!)

Epidurals Do NOT Prolong Labor

The newest research provides evidence against the popular belief that it does.


A recent study published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology looked at the effect of an epidural on length of delivery.

Good News!

A recent study out of the Beth Israel Deaconells Medical Centre shows that having an epidural during the pushing stage of labor does NOT negatively affect the duration of labor.

Previous evidence and common sense from health professionals suggested a link between using an epidural and a longer second stage of labour (the stage where you push). It was therefore thought that there was a link between using an epidural and an increased risk of needing to intervene with an instrumental delivery (such as having to use forceps) or even having to have an emergency caesarean section.

The thought was that due to the numbing effects of the epidural, the pelvic floor muscles would not work optimally to push. Because of this, it has been common for doctors to limit pain meds flowing in an epidural if labour started to progress too slowly, meaning moms-to-be experienced more pain.

Good news is that this new study demonstrates that the epidural did not negatively impact delivery!

Let’s go over the study in more details:

The Study

The study conducted was a double-blind, randomized controlled trial. For those of you who aren’t in the research world, this translates to being a high quality study.

Between March 2015 and September 2015 400 women who had never before had a child completed the study. One group received an epidural during their second stage of labour, while the other group received a placebo epidural during this same stage. Length of vaginal delivery rate, incidence of episiotomy, position of the fetus at birth, as well as other measures of fetal well being were measured.

The Results

Findings of the study demonstrated that the epidural had NO effect on any of the above measures – length of delivery, incidence of episiotomy, position of the fetus at birth, or any other measure of fetal well being.

Not surprisingly, results also showed that the women in the control group (a placebo epidural) had a lot more pain than there control group counter parts.

What it All Means

This study provides some fantastic evidence to show that there is no down side to having an epidural during the second stage of labor. This is important as labor can be an incredibly painful experience, and the decision to have an epidural as a form of pain relief should lie with the patient in collaboration with her physician and/or midwife.

Key Takeaways

  • An epidural is a safe form of pain relief during the pushing stage of labor
  • It does not have an effect on length of delivery, or any measure of fetal well-being
  • The decision to have an epidural should lie with the patient in collaboration with her physican and/or midwife


Read the full study here!