Dr. Pamela Smith, ND 

Dr. Pam has a family practice at The Nest Family Wellness Centre which offers naturopathic and midwifery care. She combines science-based natural medicine with conventional medical therapeutics. Learn more about Dr. Pam and the services offered by her clinic here, or book an appointment at www.drpamelasmith.com.

Check out the latest Ask Dr Pam Q&A and posts by topic below as well as her health and wellness posts.

Ask Dr Pam   

Is it safe to exercise during pregnancy?


Movement of any kind is beneficial during pregnancy and can improve many common pregnancy related symptoms. For example, exercising in the fresh air can be the best cure for morning sickness. If you are feeling extremely fatigued do not push yourself, even a light walk can make a huge difference. As the baby grows, the digestive system starts to slow down and the organs get pushed aside which can lead to constipation, congestion, edema, and nausea. Exercise improves blood flow preventing risk of gestation diabetes, pre-eclampsia, and varicose veins. Even as little as 20 minutes per day has been shown to increase happy hormones reducing feelings of depression or low mood. Improving your strength will also be beneficial during labour and delivery. 

Working with a trainer or instructor who is certified in prenatal exercise is recommended. Higher impact sports should be avoided such as soccer, downhill skiing, basketball, horseback riding, and gymnastics. Swimming, cycling, brisk walks, yoga, and cardio equipment may be more tolerated and safer especially after the first trimester. 

There are a few conditions where it is unsafe to exercise during pregnancy, including: women pregnant with twins as they are more at risk for premature labor, persistent second- or third-trimester bleeding, placenta previa after 26 weeks, ruptured membranes, diagnosed with preeclampsia/pregnancy induced hypertension, and possibly when severely anemic. Make sure you speak to your health provider on what type(s) of exercise is appropriate for you during the different phases of pregnancy.

For other natural ways to help prevent and treat morning sickness, see this post. For safe yoga practice during pregnancy see this post.

This post discusses exercise postpartum.