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We have created short videos about exercise, pregnancy and the work we do here at the Program for Pregnancy and Postpartum Health! Please visit our YouTube channel to watch.
Healthy pregnant women without exercise contraindications are encouraged to exercise while pregnant. Regular
exercise while pregnant may help control gestational weight gain, improve wellbeing and mood, and may play a
role in the prevention of pregnancy-related complications.
Margie Davenport was the Chair of the Guideline Consensus Panel which developed the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada/Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology 2019 Canadian Guideline for Physical Activity throughout Pregnancy. This new Guideline was developed on an extensive review of the literature culminating in the Guideline and 12 systematic reviews recently published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine .
Prior to starting an exercise program, all pregnant women are advised to talk with their health care
The PARmed-X for Pregnancy was developed as a screening tool for pregnant women who wish to exercise.
Margie Davenport was part of an international panel who developed the "Being Active During Pregnancy" information sheet for Exercise is Medicine and the American College of Sports Medicine. This document is available here:
Being Active During Pregnancy
Contraindications to Prenatal Exercise
Absolute Contraindications to Aerobic Exercise During Pregnancy
Unexplained persistent vaginal bleeding.
Placenta praevia after 28 weeks’ gestation.
Intrauterine growth restriction.
High-order multiple pregnancy (eg, triplets)
Uncontrolled type 1 diabetes.
Uncontrolled thyroid disease.
Other serious cardiovascular, respiratory or systemic disorder.
Relative Contraindications to Aerobic Exercise During Pregnancy
Recurrent pregnancy loss.
A history of spontaneous preterm birth.
Mild/moderate cardiovascular or respiratory disease.
Twin pregnancy after the 28th week.
Other significant medical conditions.
Reasons to Stop Exercise and Consult Your Health Care Provider
Persistent excessive shortness of breath that does not resolve on rest.
Severe chest pain.
Regular and painful uterine contractions.
Persistent loss of fluid from the vagina indicating rupture of the membranes.
Persistent dizziness or faintness that does not resolve on rest.
General Precautions for Prenatal Exercise
Avoid physical activity in excessive heat, especially with high humidity.
Avoid activities which involve physical contact or danger of falling.
Avoid scuba diving.
Lowlander women (ie, living below 2500 m) should avoid physical activity at high altitude (>2500 m). Those considering physical activity above those altitudes should seek supervision from an obstetric care provider with knowledge of the impact of high altitude on maternal and fetal outcomes.
Those considering athletic competition or exercising significantly above the recommended guidelines should seek supervision from an obstetric care provider with knowledge of the impact of high-intensity physical activity on maternal and fetal outcomes.
Maintain adequate nutrition and hydration—drink water before, during and after physical activity.
The Program for Pregnancy and Postpartum Health (PPPH) is a multi-site research program developed in
with the mission of conducting research to improve the life-long health of pregnant and postpartum women
The PPPH is directed by Dr. Margie Davenport who is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Kinesiology, Sport, and Recreation. She received her PhD (2010) in Integrative Exercise Physiology from the
of Western Ontario and conducted a 2 year Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Calgary.
Her rearch program examines the metabolic and cardiovascular adaptations associated with normal and
pregnancies. Her primary interest is in the benefits of exercise prior to, during and following
pregnancy for both mother and child.
“As a mother of two young daughters I understand the importance, difficulties and benefits of healthy
living during pregnancy. Our goal is to provide women with the knowledge and guidance to achieve a
healthy pregnancy. After all, a healthy pregnancy lays the foundation for a healthy future for you and
Margie Davenport PhD
Director, Program for Pregnancy and Postpartum Health
The Program for Pregnancy and Postpartum Health is currently conducting research into how pregnancy and the postpartum period affects the short- and long-term risk of chronic disease for both mother and infant. We have studies that are as short as a few hours or as long as several months/years! If you are interested in learning more, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call
Pregnancy is an exciting, but often overwhelming, time in a woman's life. Many pregnant women are more tired than usual, have swollen hands and feet, and have new aches and pains. It may seem like the perfect time to rest and relax but new research is showing that being active during pregnancy has many short and long term benefit for both you and your baby. Research has shown that exercise during pregnancy can:
Boost your mood and energy,
Help prevent excessive weight gain,
Increase tolerance to labour,
Decrease your risk for gestational diabetes, high blood pressure during
pregnancy and postpartum depression,
The list goes on!
NOTE: All pregnant women should speak to their health care provider about beginning or continuing to exercise during pregnancy. The PARmed-X for Pregnancy is used by health care providers as a screening tool for contraindications to exercise during pregnancy. You can use it to help start the conversation!
Gaining an appropriate amount of weight during pregnancy is important for the health of you and your baby! In 2009 the Institute of Medicine updated their weight gain recommendations for pregnant women. These guidelines were designed to optimize outcomes for both mother and child. Research has shown that gaining too little weight increases the risk of having a low birth weight baby. Evidence also demonstrates that gaining too much weight while pregnant increases the risk of having a high birth weight baby and postpartum weight retention. Moderation is key!
All pregnant women are recommended to gain between 0.5-2kg (1.1-4.4lbs) in the first trimester or 12 weeks of pregnancy. The amount of weight women are recommended to gain in the second and third trimesters are based on body mass index before pregnancy.
IOM WEIGHT GAIN CHART: New Recommendations for total and rate of weight T gain during regnancy, by Pregnancy bmi
Total Weight Gain (lbs)
Rates of Weight Gain* 2nd and 3rd Trimester
Obese (includes all classes)
+ To calculate BMI go to www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/
* Calculations assume a 0.5–2 kg (1.1–4.4 lbs) weight gain in the first trimester
(based on Siega-Riz et al., 1994; Abrams et al., 1995; Carmichael et al., 1997)