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Antenal Excercise

Antenatal exercise is exercise during pregnancy. You are recommended to exercise throughout the pregnancy but reduce the number of repetition of the exercises per session as your pregnancy progress.

Benefits of antenatal exercise

  • Promote good posture.
  • Relax whole body.
  • Prepare body for easy delivery by stengthening and streching muscles.
  • Help to speed up the recovery to normal weight.
  • Reduce the risk of gestational diabetes and hypertension.

Types of exercises

Although you are pregnant, you should continue to exercise with moderate intensity and if you have not started, start now. Here are the exercises suitable for you :

  • Circulatory exercise
  • Stretching exercises
    • Leg
    • Arm
  • Breathing exercise
  • Back stretch
  • Neck exercise
  • Abdominal exercise
  • Pelvic tilting
  • Pelvic floor exercise (Kegel’s exercise)

Circulatory Exercise

  • Sitting on a chair, move feet up and down – 10 times./li>
  • Sitting on a chair, move feet inwards and outwards – 10 times
  • Sitting on a chair, make a circle with both feet at anti-clockwise direction and vice versa – 10 times
  • Lying, alternate Knee bending (Do not arch your back while lying) – 10 times.

Stretching exercises

  • Leg Exercises :
    • Standing with feet apart, squatting down hold for as long as you are comfortable and back to standing position – 5 times
  • Standing facing a wall with feet apart, far enough to keep your arm straight, move your body towards the wall and holds it for 2 seconds – 5 times
  • Standing facing a wall with feet apart, far enough to keep your arm straight, bend one leg forward, move your body towards the wall as you lean forward, keep your spine straight and the other foot on the floor throughout – 5 times
  • Arm Exercises :
    • Sit up straight with head slightly raised, shoulder back, stretch your arms out to the sides keep the palms facing up make small circles at anti clockwise and vise versa – 10 times.
  • Stand up straight; raise your right arm above your head. Bend your elbow downward towards the shoulder blades, to touch your left hand. (Left hand bend backwards and upwards to the shoulder blades) – 5 times, repeat using the opposite hands.

Breathing exercises

  • Relaxed, deep breathing.
  • Breath in through the nose and out through the mouth – 5 times

Back Stretch

  • Sit up straight; hold your palm and fingers together. Keep in this position, raise them slowly up to the head level, and then lower them down slowly – 10 times

Neck Exercises

  • Sitting; look upward, and bring back head to neutral position – 5 times
  • Sitting; head to left and then to right – 5 times.
  • Sitting; bring ear towards left shoulder and then right ear towards right shoulder – 5 times

Abdominal exercise

  • Lying on your back, knees bending and arms by the side (use 1 pillow to support your head)
  • Lift head and shoulders off floor; bring your arms to touch your knees – 5 times.
  • Lift head and shoulders off floor, bring your hand to touch opposite knees – 5 times
  • Bring both knees together to your chest – 5 times

Pelvic Tilting

  • Lying on your back, with knees bend; one hand on tummy and other hand under the back (use 1 pillow to support your head)
  • Arch your back, and then straighten your back downwards to press on your hand – repeat 5 times.
  • Standing with the feet several inches apart.
  • Pull in the abdominal muscles and tuck in the buttocks. Hold 4 sec, breathing normally then relax. Repeat 5 times

Pelvic floor exercise (Kegel’s exercise)

  • Any comfortable position with legs slightly apart (Lying, sitting or standing)
  • Squeeze your pelvic floor muscle as though you are preventing the flow of urine and bowel action, then feel it being lift up
  • Try to hold 4 sec and rest in between 10 sec.
  • Repeat the above exercise slowly as many times as possible up to a maximum of 10 seconds hold.
  • Repeat the exercise quickly without holding the contraction.

Remember :

  • Do breathing exercise in between.
  • Take a deep breath in through your nose and out through the mouth.
  • Repeat 3 times.

Maintain good posture

1. Standing relaxed with upright posture.

  • Straightening your spine by tucking in your abdomen and buttocks; relaxed your shoulders.

2. Sitting upright with spine well supported.

  • Use a small pillow to tuck into small of your back.
  • Sit in a high-backed chair that will support your back.
  • Thighs should be supported by the chair, and the feet resting flat on the floor.
  • If you are in sitting position for longer time, roll your shoulder in one-way and then the opposite to release tension.

3. Lying on your back with a pillow under the thighs give you extra comfort.
4. Side lying with a pillow under your head and one under the knee and thigh prevent strain on the sacroiliac joint. This is a good position for women in late pregnancy.
5. Lifting in a safe way by bending your knees to lift keeps you from shifting your center of gravity further forward.


Guidelines to ensure safety and well-being during pregnancy with your exercise program

The Do’s (check with your doctor before begins any exercise program)

  1. If you have been following a regular exercises program before your pregnancy, maintain that program to some degree throughout your pregnancy.
  2. Exercises does not increase your risk for miscarriage
  3. If you are a beginner, you should start very slowly and be careful not to over exert yourself.
  4. Listen to your body signal for the level of exercises performed – the competitive element must be avoided.
  5. Regular exercises sessions – at least 3 times per week – are safer than intermittent bursts of activity
  6. Careful ‘warm – up’ should precede vigorous exercises which must be followed by -cooling-down’ or gradual decline in activity.
  7. Drink plenty of fluids and take frequent break.
  8. Weight training should emphasize in improving tone especially in the upper body and abdominal area.
  9. Include relaxation and stretching both before and after exercise program.
  10. Eat healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables and complex carbohydrates.

The Don’ts

  1. Avoid jerky, bouncing, ballistic movement and activities.
  2. Never exercises to the point of exhaustion or breathlessness. This is a sign of your body and your baby cannot get the oxygen supply needed.
  3. Avoid exercise in extremely hot weather.
  4. Mother heart rate should not exceed 140 beats per minute and vigorous exercises should not be longer than 15 minutes.
  5. Avoid rocky terrain or unstable ground when running or cycling.
  6. Avoid contact sport.
  7. Avoid lifting weights above your head and using weights that strain the lower back muscles.
  8. Do not over bend any joints.
  9. Stop exercises immediately if you experiences symptoms such as:
    • chest pain,
    • vaginal bleeding or uterine contraction, or if your membrane rupture,
    • blurred vision, dizziness, fainting,
    • irregular heart beats,
    • increase swelling in your hand, feet and ankles, and
    • Sudden change in body temperature.
  10. During second and third trimesters, avoid exercises that involve lying flat on your back as this decreases blood flow to your womb.

Exercises to relief backache during pregnancy

Here are simple exercises to relieve backache during pregnancy:  

1. Kneel down on your feet and arm with back straight.

  • Imagine that you are balancing a tray on your back.
  • Then tip the tray off by contracting your abdominal muscles, tucking in your bottom, and pushing the small of your back again upward.
  • Flatten your back again and repeat six to eight times.
  • Hold each position for 5 seconds.
2. Rolling each shoulder forward five times, then back five times.

  • Wear a bra with good support.

3. Lie on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor tighten your abdomen and press down until your low back flattens against the floor.
4. Lie on your back with knees bend, and both feet on the floor. Grasp your left knee and slowly pulling it to your chest. Repeat the same procedure with the left knee.

  • Lie on your side. Bring your bent knee towards your shoulder.


Proper clothing


  • Loose and comfortable clothing which does not constrict at the waist.
  • Clothing with extra room in front (cut for pregnancy).
  • Maternity gown is the best as pregnancy grows.

Choosing underwear

  • Wear the right bra size of wide, long fastening at the back with good support (wide shoulder straps) made from lightweight cotton or cotton blend, during pregnancy.
  • For breast-feeding, wear bra with some form of front opening.
  • Wear panties that can be wear under your tummy, bikini style or choose a large stretchy style that you can pull over it.

Proper shoes

  • Wear well fitting shoes with a slight heel, as this is better for your posture and your back than high heel or totally flat one.
  • Wear leather or canvas shoes so that your feet can breathe.
  • Athletic shoe with a good support for your arches and heels are good footwear for both home and leisure.
Last Reviewed : 23 August 2019
Writer : Dr. Nor Filzatun Borhan
Accreditor : Pn Hamidah Ishak
Pn. Hjh Asiah Mohd Hashim
Reviewer : Dr. Rafaie bin Amin