The last few weeks of pregnancy are a bit of a strange time of life. Thinking it could be ‘any day now’ but also knowing it could realistically be up to 6 weeks, definitely starts to play on your mind.
Staying active during this period is important physically, but I also believe it helps to cope mentally as well. It’s just hard to know what to do at this point. You feel so big and cumbersome, things are getting uncomfortable, your bladder control is at its limit and you’re just so tired. However, if you can get past all of that, you will feel better for doing some movement. It’s certainly not the time to set any big exercise goals, but there is plenty you can do to keep your body moving and quieten your mind while you wait for the day to come.
My favourite ways to stay active in the last few weeks of pregnancy are:
- Walking - getting outside and going for a walk is such great medicine at any time in your life, but particularly towards the end of pregnancy. Keep the walks pretty short, you can always head out more than once in a day, you may need to wear a pelvic belt, you will probably want to avoid hills and keep the pace pretty slow. Wear good shoes as your feet are now carrying a lot more weight than they used to and if this is your first pregnancy, make the most of being able to walk without a pram or carrier.
- Gentle Pilates and yoga - any of the calm classes in our prenatal section are great options or you can look up a gentle online yoga class. Have towels and cushions nearby to support your body, this makes such a big difference! Working on your core and pelvic floor and the strength around your hips can help to prepare for giving birth and your recovery afterwards. Plus, the added bonus of mindfulness that comes with Pilates and yoga helps calm your mind while you’re at it.
- Basic strengthening exercises - I really like doing some squats, calf raises and push ups against the kitchen bench. It made me feel stronger and felt good to move in a really simple way. At this stage, your own body weight or very light dumbbells is perfect, you don’t want to be straining in your abdominal area or putting any extra load on your pelvic floor.
- Gentle hip and spine stretches - keeping your body mobile is so beneficial, you just need to be careful to move very gently and avoid overstretching. Moving in and out of your stretches, rather than holding for a period of time is best. See my reel posts ‘Keeping my hips happy’ and ‘Gentle spine stretches’ to see what I did at the end of my pregnancy.
It’s important to be very mindful of how you feel during and after any exercise during your pregnancy, and particularly towards the end when going into labour is becoming more and more likely. Exercise should feel comfortable at all times so if you experience any of the following, you should stop what you are doing:
- Shortness of breath - make sure you are able to talk while you move.
- Chest pain, dizziness, faintness - stop and call your doctor.
- Bleeding - see your doctor.
- Abdominal or lower back pain/cramping - could be a sign of early labour.
- Decreased foetal movement - call you midwife of Ob.
If you’re ever unsure, it is always best to check with your doctor or physio before starting any new exercise. This time should be spent nurturing your body, not pushing it, so just go gently and enjoy whatever you choose to do.