Exercise during pregnancy is an important way to keep mom strong, fit, and healthy. Some women may fear that exercise will endanger the baby, but if you do it the right way, the opposite is true. If you were physically fit before pregnancy, there is no reason to stop exercising when you get pregnant. Just follow these simple tips for safe exercise during pregnancy, and your body will seamlessly adapt to the extra weight you’re carrying in your belly.
Before you start working out during pregnancy, it’s important to speak with your doctor about your specific situation. If you are carrying multiples, or you are high-risk, your doctor may tell you to refrain from any exercise other than walking. As your pregnancy progresses, she may instruct you to be even more cautious. Inform your doctor about your habits from before pregnancy. Were you physically fit before? Did you regularly do cardio, yoga, or Pilates— or perhaps you play tennis? Your doctor may tell you to continue doing physical activity that your body is accustomed to and to be cautious when starting any new type of exercise.
During pregnancy, your fluid intake should increase quite a bit. If you are exercising during pregnancy, it should increase even more. Dehydration is risky during pregnancy— it can induce contractions, and limit the amount of oxygen reaching the placenta. In addition to drinking water, make sure you are also drinking fluids with electrolytes, such as coconut water or juice.
If you’re a regular in your yoga class, come a bit early to get a few minutes in with your yoga instructor. Inform her that you’re pregnant, and ask if there are any poses you should be skipping or modifying. Same goes for Pilates and any other exercise class. Your instructor may suggest switching to a prenatal class altogether. Avoid poses which may cause you to lose your balance, or poses which require lying flat on your back. You may also find that you are more flexible during pregnancy due to the hormone relaxin— which increases flexibility and joint mobility— but avoid overstretching, which could lead to injury.
If you’ve been on the mat for a few minutes, and you’re switching to a standing position, do so slowly. As your belly grows, your center of gravity changes, so quick movements may cause you to lose balance. Standing up quickly can also cause your blood pressure to drop, resulting in lightheadedness or dizziness rapidly. This is something you want to avoid during pregnancy, as it means that your blood flow is temporarily compromised, putting the baby in danger, and increasing the risk of a fall.
Heavy weightlifting during pregnancy is not recommended. Small spurts of activities which require straining can put too much pressure on the cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems and may cause contractions. Lightweights during moderate-intensity aerobics are fine, as long as you keep moving instead of standing in one position for a long time.
Skip sports with a lot of contact—like hockey, basketball, and soccer— and sports which may cause you to fall, like skiing, horseback riding, surfing, and rollerblading. According to BabyCenter, you should take extra precaution—and avoid if possible—traveling to high altitudes, where the air is thinner, and there is less oxygen. Altitude sickness during pregnancy can put you and your baby at risk. Scuba diving is forbidden during pregnancy. Firstly, the pressure underwater can cause harm to your baby, resulting in a congenital disability. Additionally, as you surface, little air bubbles can form in your bloodstream which is very dangerous for both you and your baby.
Before pregnancy, you may have had a running voice in your head saying “just a little longer,” or “one more mile.” These may have been good mantras before— but now that you’re pregnant, you must be more sensitive to cues from your body telling you to stop. If you feel weak, dizzy, lightheaded, or exhausted, stop exercising. There is no benefit in pushing yourself to exhaustion during pregnancy— it can do more harm than good. If you start to feel worse during exercise, sit down and drink plenty of water, catch your breath, and take it easy the rest of the day.
During pregnancy, your blood volume increases along with your blood flow, making you feel warmer than you normally would. Avoid humidity and high heat. That means that exercises like hot yoga are certainly out of the question. So are saunas and hot tubs. If it is a particularly hot or humid day, don’t go to a jog outside. Instead, do aerobics or Pilates at home in the air conditioning, or head to the gym.
Going from one extreme to another in a bad idea during pregnancy, so instead of jumping right into an aerobic workout that will kick up your heart rate, start with a slow warm-up that gradually increases in pace. If you skip the workout, you risk straining your cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems, which can cause aches and pains after a workout.
You may find that you become tired, winded, and achy more quickly during pregnancy than you would otherwise. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to stop exercising. Listen to your body— don’t push yourself to the point of fatigue— instead, reduce the impact and intensity of your workout, and plan for some rest afterward. If you usually exercise before work and won’t have a minute to put your feet up after a workout, change your schedule around to exercise after work so that you have time to regroup and gain back energy. Take into account that you may need to slow down and rest more as you near the end of your pregnancy.
Drink plenty of fluids, stay active, and take precaution. Remember to listen to your body— and to your doctor—so that you and your baby can stay safe and healthy throughout your pregnancy.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.