About Exercising While Pregnant
Whether you’re a marathoner or a couch potato, exercise should be a regular part of your pregnancy lifestyle, provided it’s safe for you to get moving.
Determining whether exercising is safe and how to do it safely involves frequent chats with your doctor. Once you have the go-ahead, your daily walk or swim should help you relax and take pleasure in knowing that you’re caring for your baby and yourself.
Why Exercise Matters Now
Exercising during pregnancy isn’t just about burning off the calories from your midnight snacks of chocolate ice cream and bacon. Staying fit during this period has benefits for you and baby too. In addition to helping you sleep and prevent excess weight gain, exercising might help you ward off gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, according to WomensHealth.gov.
Keeping active during pregnancy also can help you recover from labor and lose the baby weight faster than inactive women, says the site, and one large study found that exercising regularly can decrease a woman’s chance of having preterm labor. Physical activity also can help you keep your stamina up and improve your mood — both perks when fatigue and hormones are bringing you down.
Ideally, you’ll talk to your doctor about exercise during your first appointment, post-pregnancy test, and keep talking at every check-up. Tell your doctor about the fitness routine you’ve followed up until now, and talk about any conditions you’ve developed during this pregnancy and any complications from previous pregnancies.
For instance, a history of preterm labor could make exercise unsafe for you and baby. If yours is a normal pregnancy, you can be active consistently from conception straight on through delivery. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services recommends a healthy pregnant woman get two and a half hours of exercise per week, spread throughout the week.
Activities to Try — and Avoid
If you were considering taking up tackle football or rugby, you’ll have to wait until you’re back in fighting shape. Common sense should tell you that contact sports aren’t safe for a pregnant woman. However, many activities you’d enjoy pre-pregnancy are safe now, too. Walking, swimming, yoga, and water aerobics all are baby-friendly forms of exercise.
If you’re interested in yoga or aerobics, follow a program devised for pregnant women, or talk to your instructor about safe ways to modify the routine. If you were a regular runner before your pregnancy, you may continue running now.
Downhill skiing is unsafe for now, says the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and avoid doing exercises on your back once you enter your second trimester. Any activity that puts you off balance, like hiking on a rocky trail, isn’t safe while pregnant.
Breaking a (Safe) Sweat
Enjoy those motivational ’80s rock anthems coming through your headphones, but take care to monitor your body when you exercise. If you feel any discomfort other than the occasional muscle twinges common during physical activity, stop what you’re doing and call your doctor. Dizziness, vaginal bleeding, and chest pains all can be causes for concern.
If you live in a high-elevation place, or plan to visit one during pregnancy, talk to your doctor before exercising. According to the American Pregnancy Association, exercising at elevations of more than 7,500 feet is unsafe for pregnant women.
Keep a charged cell phone and full water bottle within reach while you work out, and check the weather conditions before heading outdoors. During hot or cold conditions, or when the roads are wet and slippery, stay inside or do your workout at the gym.