Exercise in Pregnancy – 2019 Canadian Guideline

There is a new guideline in town and it is all about exercise in pregnancy. Kudos to Mottola, Davenport and Ruchat et al for producing a monumentally thorough systematic review and guideline which will hopefully transform the lives of both mother and babies around the world.

This guideline was borne out of the lack of clarity around the safety of exercise during pregnancy, a lack of clarity which results in  less than 15% of women achieving the minimal  recommended amount of exercise during pregnancy.

This guideline went through a vigorous search, review, rating and feedback process which can be read about here.

**WAIT** Before you dive in to checking out what the guideline says why don’t you read our Q&A with one of the key authors of the paper Margie Davenport?

The Recommendations

  1. All women without contraindication should be physically active throughout pregnancy
  2. Pregnant women should accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate-intense physical activity each weak to achieve a reduction in pregnancy complications
  3. The physical activity should be accumulated over 3 days per week (being active daily is encouraged)
  4. A combination of aerobic and resistance training achieves greater benefits. For an extra bonus yoga or stretching is advised
  5. Pelvic floor exercises should be performed on a daily basis
  6. Pregnant women who become light headed, nauseated or unwell when exercising on their back should modify the exercises to avoid supine.

Absolute Contraindications

Although the presence of one of the contraindications means moderate to intense exercise should be avoided, this is not intended to be a barrier to the uptake of a healthy lifestyle. If concerned about any of these conditions, or ones not on the list within the guidelines then you should consult a doctor.

  • Ruptured membranes
  • Premature labour
  • Unexplained PV bleeding
  • Placenta praevia after 28 weeks
  • Pre-eclampsia
  • Incompetent Cervix
  • Intrauterine growth restriction
  • Twins, triplets etc
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure, type 1 or type 2 diabetes or thyroid disease
  • Other serious cardiovascular, respiratory or systemic disorders

The presence of a relative contraindications should be discussed with a doctor before engaging with exercises. They aren’t definitive no’s but they do need special consideration; recurrent pregnancy loss, gestational hypertension, preterm birth, mild/mod cardiovascular or respiratory disease, anaemia, malnutrition an other significant medical conditions.

What Do We Do Now?

This guideline presents a unique opportunity, as the research group say

“[this guideline] represent a foundational shift in our view of prenatal physical activity from a recommended behaviour to improve quality of life, to a specific prescription for physical activity to reduce pregnancy complications and optimise health across the lifespan of two generations”.