Antenatal Exercises

Antenatal Exercises

A healthy mother ensures a healthy child. With this booklet, we aim to provide information on various exercises which should be carried out during pregnancy, along with their benefits and precautions to be taken while doing them. It is advisable for all pregnant women to consult their obstetrician before beginning any exercise program to avoid any problems that may rise


If you have any of the following symptoms while you are exercising, stop immediately and contact your doctor:
  • Pain anywhere, especially in your back or pelvic region
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Dizziness or feeling giddy
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Epigastric pain
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Difficulty walking
  • Contractions
  • Fluid leaking from your vagina
  • Decreased foetal movement (but bear in mind that the baby is often most quiet when you are exercising)
  • Muscle weakness
  • Calf pain or swelling
  • Rapid heartbeat or palpitations, even while at rest
When not to begin exercises during pregnancy

When you have
  • Lung disease
  • Heart disease
  • If you have a cervical stitch
  • Multiple pregnancies (for example, twins, triplets)
  • If you are at risk for preterm labor
  • Persistent second or third-trimester bleeding
  • Placenta previa after 26 weeks
  • Preterm labor
  • Ruptured membranes (your water has broken)
  • Preeclampsia (pregnancy-induced high blood pressure)
  • Chronic hypertension
  • Severe anemia
Ask your doctor to tell you exactly which activities are forbidden and whether you need to cut back on the intensity or duration of any other activities. You may still be able to do limited exercise to strengthen your arms and back.

The 13 rules of safe pregnancy exercise
  • Check with your doctor first on when to start 
  • Consume extra calories 
  • Steer clear of dangerous sports 
  • Wear the right clothes 
  • Warm up 
  • Drink plenty of water 
  • Don't lie flat on your back 
  • Keep moving 
  • Don't overdo it 
  • Get up from the floor slowly 
  • Make it a habit 
Basic breathing patterns
  • DEEP BREATH-lasts up to 6 counts, inhale from the tummy 
  • CHEST BREATH-lasts up to 4 counts, inhale air from the chest level
  • SHALLOW BREATH- lasts for a count, inhale till the throat i.e. base of neck   
20 seconds breathing pattern- latent phase of labor
  • One deep breath
  • Chest breath till the 20 second lasts
  • End with one deep breath       
40 seconds breathing pattern - active phase of labor
  • One deep breath
  • Two- chest breath
  • Shallow breath till the 35th second
  • Two chest breath
  • One deep breath
60 seconds breathing pattern - during labor
  • One deep breath
  • Two chest breath
  • Four shallow breath
  • One chest breath
  • Four shallow breath
  • One chest breath
  • Four shallow breath
  • One chest breath
  • Four shallow breath
  • One chest breath
  • Two chest breath
  • One deep breath

Walking is one of the best cardiovascular exercises for pregnant women. Walking keeps you fit without jarring your knees and ankles. It is also easy to do almost anywhere, doesn't require any equipment beyond a good pair of supportive shoes and is safe throughout all nine months of pregnancy

Swimming: Healthcare providers and fitness experts hail swimming as the best and safest exercise for pregnant women. Swimming is ideal because it exercises both large muscle groups (arms and legs) and provides cardiovascular benefits.

Low-impact aerobics: You can take a class for pregnant women and enjoy the camaraderie of other moms-to-be and feel reassured that each movement is safe for you and your baby.

Flexibility and strength

Yoga: Yoga can help maintain muscle tone and keep you flexible with little if any impact on your joints, but you may have to augment a yoga regimen with walking or swimming several times a week to give your heart a workout.

Weight training: If weight training is already part of your exercise routine, there is no reason to stop; although you should reduce the amount of weight you lift (you can do more repetitions to ensure that you are still getting a good workout). If you take the necessary precautions and use slow, controlled movements, weight training is a great way to tone and strengthen your muscles.


Stretching will enhance your flexibility, prevent your muscles from tightening and make you feel looser and more relaxed. Use the following stretches after a workout as a way to cool down, or just when you need to relax.Be sure to breathe deeply and regularly as you stretch. While seated or standing, rotate your shoulders backwards and down in the largest circle you can make. This opens the chest, counteracting the rounded shoulders so many pregnant women get.

Chest stretch
  • Standing in a doorway, place both hands at shoulder height on either side of the doorway, elbows bent. Step your right foot forward until you feel a slight stretch in the chest muscles (being careful not to stretch too much). Hold for 30 seconds. 
  • Switch feet, stepping your left foot forward. Hold for 30 seconds. 
  • Stand with your back against a wall, your feet about shoulder-width apart, a comfortable distance from the wall, knees slightly bent. Inhale, and then as you exhale, draw in your abdominals, moving your chin toward your chest as you roll your torso down one vertebra at a time. "Roll" as far down as you're comfortable going. Keep your weight centred between your feet. 
  • Inhale at the bottom of the roll-down, and as you exhale, roll back up, trying to "print" each vertebra on the wall. As you return to an upright position, make sure your head is the last part of your body to uncurl. Repeat. Note: As your pregnancy progresses, you can modify this pose by doing it seated in a chair with your feet wide apart to make room for your belly. Sitting right on the edge of the chair, inhale, then exhale as you move your chin toward your chest and roll your body forward and down. Your hands can hang between your legs. Inhale and then exhale as you roll all the way up.
Waist twist
  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart for stability, knees slightly bent. 
  • Extend both of your arms toward your left side at shoulder height while looking over your right shoulder. Hold the stretch and breathe into it. 
  • Moving slowly, reverse the motion, switching your arms to the right while looking over your left shoulder. Repeat. 
Wall push-up and calf stretch
  • Stand about 2 feet from a wall with your arms extended in front of your shoulders. 
  • Reach your hands to the wall and lean forward, bending your elbows, inhale as your body tilts. 
  • Keep your heels on the floor to stretch your calf muscles. (Don't do this exercise in socks or slippery shoes) 
  • Exhale, contract the abdominals, and slowly push away from the wall to straighten up. 
  • Repeat eight to ten times. 
  • Sitting on the floor, sit tall with your knees bent to the right and heels close to your bottom. With your left hand, hold your left ankle for support as your right hand extends overhead. Inhale and then exhale and reach up and over to the left side. 
  • Inhale and hold the stretch. Exhale to return to an upright position. Repeat one more time on your right side before moving to the left. You will feel a stretch in the sides of your waist, hip, and lower back. 
  • Repeat twice while sitting on your left hip.
Thigh and hip flexor stretch
  • Lie on your left side with your head on a pillow or a folded towel. Slightly bend the left leg for stability. 
  • Bend your right leg, moving your foot toward your bottom and take hold of your right ankle. Gently pull the heel closer to your bottom and draw in your abdominals to support your lower back. You should feel a stretch in the thigh and deep hip flexors. Hold for 30 seconds. 
  • Release and switch sides, lying on your right side.

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