Exercise may seem like the last thing your body wants to do when you’re pregnant. You’re more tired than usual, your stomach is starting to grow larger and larger, your back aches, sleeping is uncomfortable and your feet and ankles are swollen.
But exercise can actually help with all of these common pregnancy woes and more!
Physical activity yields a number of health benefits, especially while you’re pregnant. Exercise can:
While pregnancy and exercise affect people in different ways, exercise can also reduce your risk of gestational diabetes, pregnancy-related high blood pressure, postpartum depression, and fetal macrosomia, which is when the baby is larger than normal at birth.
Before exercising, make sure to get the okay from your pregnancy care doctor or midwife, and be sure to discuss anything you feel may be a concern or complication. If you’re experiencing any hip, stomach or pelvic pain, vaginal bleeding, leaking fluids, early contractions or high blood pressure, make sure to mention it to your doctor.
Generally, your fitness ability during pregnancy depends on your fitness level before pregnancy. If you were in the habit of regular exercise, you should be able to continue your routine with a few modifications from your doctor. It’s recommended to get 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least three times a week.
Even if you weren’t a frequent gym visitor before pregnancy, it’s not too late to start. Be sure to take it slow at first, 5 or 10 minutes at a time, and slowly build your time to 30 minutes. Don’t push yourself too hard, too fast.
Many women enjoy walking for their 30 minutes of exercise. Walking is a good aerobic exercise and softer on the joints than running. If you ran before pregnancy, you may be able to keep it up; however, you may have to adjust the length and intensity of your routine. Again, talk with your doctor about your regular routine.
Don’t be afraid to get creative! Hikes, yoga, swimming, low-impact aerobics, and even dance classes can be a fun way to get exercise and mix up your typical workout routine.
However, there are some things you may need to approach with care while pregnant. Typically, pregnant women should avoid:
You may find that some activities are okay and comfortable for the first trimester, but as your pregnancy progresses, you may have to reduce or quit certain activities. As your baby grows your center of gravity shifts, making some activities dangerous and can put your abdomen at risk of injury. Again, talk through what your body can and can’t handle with your doctor.
It’s also important to pay attention to the weather. Overheating can be problematic as internal temperatures over 102.6°F can cause birth defects in a fetus, according to KidsHealth.org. During warm weather seasons, avoid the hottest parts of the day from 10am to 3pm. If you’re pregnant during the summer, consider walking on your treadmill inside or joining a gym.
Don’t forget the basics of exercise either! Spend a few minutes warming up, cooling down, and stretching to minimize any injuries. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids. Dehydration can be very dangerous to a pregnancy.
If you experience any abnormal symptoms while exercising, slow down or stop immediately! Here’s a few things to be on the lookout for:
If your body is telling you to stop, listen! A good rule of thumb is that you should be able to hold a conversation while exercising. If you’re panting too much, you may be pushing yourself too hard.
Also, don’t forget to rest. Rest can be just as important as exercise during pregnancy.
When it comes to your health and the health of your growing baby, our experienced and compassionate pregnancy care physicians (obstetricians) are here to help. If you live in the Gainesville or Lake City area, contact us today.