Exercise During Pregnancy
Pregnancy requires that extra care and attention be paid to our bodies when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Whether you are already active or have been sedentary and now wish to improve your health for the sake of your child, mild to moderate exercise during pregnancy is recommended by most health professionals.
Do I HAVE to Exercise?
In short, no – but you should. Your overall health will affect the health of your child, and can be improved with the right exercise program. Think of it as a kind of maternity insurance! Women who choose not to incorporate physical activity into their daily routine are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and other health issues. Improving your cardiac health via moderate exercise will help your body to supply your developing baby with adequate oxygen and blood flow. Physically fit mothers may also experience an easier, quicker birth.
Will Exercising Hurt My Baby?
Moderate exercise during pregnancy will not cause any harm to a developing child, nor increase the risk of a miscarriage. In most situations, exercising and staying fit during pregnancy will actually improve the health of your baby! Exercise increases and promotes healthy circulation, which reduces YOUR risk of varicose veins, hemorrhoids, ankle swelling, and constipation. A healthy cardiovascular system is great for both you and your baby. What's more, exercise may help you to avoid insomnia and mood swings, which can be a problem for some women during pregnancy.
Best Activities for Pregnant Women
There are a variety of safe and healthy activities which pregnant women can engage in. Many mamas-to-be enjoy prenatal yoga which is usually a gentle form of the discipline involving slow, relaxing stretches and poses. Running and jogging are also acceptable, as long as you monitor your heart rate and body temperature. Avoid jarring activities like horseback riding and contact sports, and be sure to hydrate yourself during any form of physical activity. Exercise does draw some blood away from the uterus and into the large muscles, so you want to make sure there's plenty to go around!
Cautions and Concerns
Pregnant women should never go above 40% of their max heart rate while exercising, as this can cause reduced oxygen flow to the baby. In addition, avoid exercising in intense heat, and maintain a body temperature of less than 101 degrees. This should not be a problem for women who are already fit; simply keep to moderate exercise such as yoga or Tai Chi, and your body will regulate itself properly. However, women with obesity or blood pressure related health issues should consult a doctor before beginning an exercise program while pregnant.
Weight Loss During Pregnancy
Some women who are overweight when they become pregnant are inspired to improve their health before the birth of their baby. Some weight gain is inevitable during a pregnancy, as fluids and the baby itself will all add extra weight to an expectant mother's frame; however, obese and overweight women can aim for less overall weight gain during pregnancy, as they will not need the added fat and nutrient stores. Combining healthful, nutritious foods with a mild to moderate exercise plan is the best strategy for new moms looking to slim down a bit.
With proper care and planning, exercise can be a valuable addition to a new mom's pregnancy wellness toolkit.
Article on Exercise During Pregnancy
The good news is that you should be able to continue exercising during your pregnancy. For those that are already involved with an exercise program, you should be able to maintain that program - at least to some degree. If you were not exercising prior to pregnancy it is usually recommended that you begin some type of exercise program; however it is important to check with your doctor to confirm which exercises are best for you.
Some Helpful Guidelines for Exercising During Pregnancy:
- Start slowly and be careful not to over exert yourself if you are starting a program during pregnancy.
- Stretch before and after your exercise program.
- Your body will give you signs that it is time to reduce your level of exercise
- Avoid exercising to the point of exhaustion or breathlessness.
- Wear comfortable exercise footwear that gives strong ankle and arch support.
- Drink plenty of fluids and seek to take frequent breaks.
- Avoid exercise in extremely hot weather.
- Avoid exercises or rocky and unstable terrain which increases your chance of falling.
- Avoid lifting weights above your head and using weights that strain the lower back muscles.
- During the second and third trimesters, avoid exercise that involves laying flat on your back as this decreases blood flow to your womb.
Recommended Exercises During Pregnancy:
- Kegel Exercises
- Running & Jogging
Exercises to Avoid During Pregnancy:
- Snow Skiing
- Water Skiing
- Horseback Riding
- Contact Sports
Special Thoughts for Exercising During Pregnancy:
It is important to make sure that you are drinking lots of fluids and that you have plenty of support including the clothes and shoes that you wear. Make sure that you are getting plenty of oxygen without breathing too heavily and keep your heart rate below 140.
If you experience any vaginal bleeding, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, or sense that you might faint, stop exercising immediately.