Exercise During Pregnancy

If someone told you that there is a way to improve how you feel during your entire pregnancy and shorten your labor, you may feel like that was too good to be true. But ladies it is true! Doctors are finding that maintaining an exercise routine during pregnancy has many health benefits. Studies show that it may prevent gestational diabetes, relieve stress, and build more stamina needed for labor and delivery. It can help some of the common discomforts like backaches, fatigue, and insomnia. Recent studies show that moms who exercise during pregnancy have babies with higher IQ’s.

If you were physically active before your pregnancy, you should be able to continue your activity in moderation. This means you should not try to exercise at your former level. Instead, do what is most comfortable for you now. With all of the changes in pregnancy, your body may respond differently. Low impact aerobics are encouraged over high impact. Do not let your heart rate exceed 140 beats per minute. The pregnant competitive athlete should be closely followed by an obstetrical provider.

For most women that have never exercised regularly, we can help you safely begin an exercise program. Do not try a new, strenuous activity. Walking is considered safe to initiate when pregnant. The American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise per day on most if not all days of the week, unless you have a medical or obstetric complication. This does not mean you have to do 30 minutes at one time; a more achievable goal may be 10-15 minutes episodes of activity.

IMMEDIATELY STOP exercise if you experience any of the following: cramping, vaginal bleeding, leaking fluid, dizziness, or lightheadedness.

WHO SHOULD NOT EXERCISE?

If you have a medical conditions like: asthma, heart disease or diabetes, exercise may not be advisable, talk to your physician first. Exercise may also be harmful if you have an obstetric condition such as:

  • Bleeding or spotting
  • Placenta previa or low lying placenta
  • Threatened or recurrent miscarriage
  • A history of early labor
  • Previous premature births
  • Cervical incompetence

WHAT EXERCISES ARE SAFE DURING PREGNANCY?

Most exercises are safe to perform during pregnancy, as long as you exercise with caution.

The safest and most productive activities are swimming, brisk walking, indoor stationary bicycling and low-impact aerobics (taught by a certified aerobics instructor). These activities carry little risk of injury, benefit your entire body, and can be continued until birth. Other activities such as jogging can be done in moderation. You may want to choose exercises or activities that do not require great balance or coordination, especially later in pregnancy.

WHAT EXERCISES SHOULD BE AVOIDED DURING PREGNACY?

There are certain exercises and activities that can be harmful if performed during pregnancy:

  • Holding your breath during any activity
  • Activities where falling is likely (such as skiing and horseback riding)
  • Contact sports such as softball, football, basketball and volleyball
  • Any exercise that may cause even mild abdominal trauma, jarring motions or rapid changes in direction
  • Activities that require extensive jumping, hopping, skipping, bouncing or running
  • Deep knee bends, full sit-ups, double leg raises and straight-leg toe touches
  • Bouncing while stretching
  • Exercises that require lying on your back or right side for more than three minutes (especially after your third month of pregnancy)
  • Waist twisting movements while standing
  • Heavy exercise spurts followed by long periods of inactivity
  • Exercise in hot, humid weather