The big Q: is it safe for me to start exercising in pregnancy?
It is not only safe, but also beneficial for you and baby, so long as you are sensible about the right approach for you.
Guidelines within Australia and globally come from the evidence of the many benefits of being active in pregnancy such as reduced pregnancy, labour and delivery complications, improved maternal physical and mental health, as well as foetal genetic and epigenetic influences on growth and developmental benefits. The newest 2019 Canadian evidence-based guidelines can also be found here.
As a rule of thumb, it is recommended to build up (gradually, especially you are just starting out) to 30mins of moderate intensity on most days, adding up to at least 150mins a week. The type of activity should incorporate a mix of aerobic and resistance based exercise to achieve greater health benefits. But being active is more than exercising within four walls, and in pregnancy, the focus is on doing activities that you enjoy and feel confident doing. This can include anything like walking, swimming, yoga and, heck, even vacuuming to music if that is your jam.
Outside the physical benefits alone, there can be many positives about finding an activity you like, whether it is time to yourself on a nice evening walk, or connecting with other mums-to-be at a group prenatal class. Find a routine that works for you, and remember that "what works for you" will keep changing as your pregnancy progresses.
In pregnancy though, all of this is easier said than done. Even as a health professional, finding motivation to be regularly active during my pregnancy was a real challenge. Getting through the day can be hard enough with morning sickness (um, more like all-day sickness), feeling so drained of energy that you cry, crying because you feel so drained of energy and are unable to feel "productive" in any way.
Some days, getting out of bed is an accomplishment – and so it should be when you are turning food into a human. Focusing on those little wins was what got me through, and if you're right here now, just keep saying - "it will pass". You have been given everything you need to do this. Keeping focused on the little wins and the enjoyable aspects of that walk, like the fresh air you've been longing for, or that prenatal class that allows you to finally pause and make time for you.
The key is to listen to your body, and always seek a medical opinion if you have specific medical needs in pregnancy. Pregnancy is a time for maintaining general fitness, not for becoming an athlete. It is also important to be aware of some of the considerations for exercise during pregnancy, and the specific needs for each trimester.
What you can and want to do in the first trimester will be completely different to the second and third. What ever it is you do, enjoy it and be kind to yourself on this wonderful journey.