Should I Exercise While Pregnant?

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Pregnancy feels like it changes everything. Even before your baby bump starts showing, you won’t be able to stop thinking about the new little person growing and developing in your belly. You may be worried about what to eat and drink, how much sleep you’re getting, and what medications you’re taking. You know you’re going to gain weight as your pregnancy moves along, but what about your gym routine?

Exercise Is Great For Pregnancy!

It seems like moving around a lot and pushing your body might be bad for the baby. You may be surprised to learn that exercise is actually an important part of a healthy pregnancy! In fact, it’s so important the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists say you should be working out for at least half an hour per day while pregnant.

Pregnant exercise has a number of benefits.

It boosts your heart rate, strengthening your cardiovascular system for the strain of late pregnancy. It helps keep your joints limber and helps clear out the excess fluid you may retain while pregnant. It also strengthens the muscles you’ll use during delivery and helps you avoid gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, both of which can put your health and the baby at serious risk. In addition, keeping fit during pregnancy makes it easier to recover after delivery. Finally, exercise can boost your mood, help reduce the joint and muscle pain common to pregnancy, and make it easier for you to sleep.

What Sort Of Exercise Is Right For Pregnancy?

While exercise offers major health benefits during pregnancy, not every type of exercise is right when you’re expecting. High impact and high endurance sports, such as long-distance running, boxing, and contact sports can put you at risk for stretched or torn uterine ligaments. Activities that involve jumping around or changing direction quickly are also dangerous, as are activities that involve a risk of falling – think skiing, horseback riding, or skating. In extreme cases, these activities may impact the integrity of the placenta that provides your little one the oxygen and nutrients needed for growth and development.

The best types of exercise during pregnancy are low-impact but still get your heart pumping. Walking and using an elliptical machine can meet these goals. Dancing and low-impact aerobic exercises are also a good option, as long as you avoid jumping up and down. Many experts recommend swimming because it’s great for building muscle tone and cardiovascular endurance but doesn’t put too much strain on your joints or your belly.

Listen To Your Body

If you didn’t exercise regularly before becoming pregnant, it may be best to ease into the routine. Start with 10 or 15 minutes of light aerobic exercise to get your heartrate up, then slowly increase your time every day. If you have an exercise routine already, you can generally stick with it through your pregnancy. Just remember to avoid extreme endurance activities, contact sports, activities that require rapid direction changes, and jumping around.

It’s always important to listen to your body’s cues while exercising, but it’s especially crucial during pregnancy. You’ll need to make sure you’re well-hydrated and mind how long you spend in the sun.

Try A Prenatal Class

In today’s world, there are a wide variety of exercise classes designed with the needs and wants of pregnant people in mind. Whether you’re into yoga, pilates, dance, aerobics, spin, or any other type of workout, there’s a prenatal class for it. If you can’t find one you like in your area, there are many prenatal workouts available for free online. These classes will focus on the muscles you’ll need as your pregnancy progresses, including your pelvic, core, and lower back muscles. They’ll also help you get your heartrate up to make sure you get the cardiovascular benefits. Exercising in a group can also be good motivation and a lot of fun.

Exercise After Delivery

Exercise is just as valuable after pregnancy as during it. It can help you lose the extra weight you gain during pregnancy, especially if you’re also breastfeeding. It’s also good for your mood and your health in general. You may want to avoid very strenuous exercise just before breastfeeding because it can cause a lactic acid buildup in your breast milk. That can give the milk a sour taste and the baby may not like it. Otherwise, you can do whatever you feel ready to do. If you had an uncomplicated vaginal delivery, you’ll be ready to hit the gym within a week or so. If your delivery was more complicated and required surgery or other procedures, you may need to wait a little longer. Work with your doctor to determine what sort of routine is safe and healthy for you.

Always Consult Your Doctor

Remember that every body and every pregnancy is different. You should consult your doctor as soon as you know you’re pregnant about what sort of exercise routine is right for you and whether you have any special considerations. For example, women who have had difficult pregnancies may need to be especially careful to avoid activities that involve impact and women who are competitive athletes may be able to maintain a higher level of activity during pregnancy. In the end, it’s all about what’s right for you.

Get Moving!

Whether you decide to take a half-hour walk or sign up for a daily prenatal yoga class, exercising regularly and safely during your pregnancy is one of the best things you can do for yourself and for your new little one.

3 replies
  1. SafeBirthProject
    SafeBirthProject says:

    Hi Toniesha,

    Congratulations on your new little one!

    Experts recommend low-impact exercise such as an elliptical machine or water aerobics. Walking is also a great way to get your heart pumping! If you’re looking for a more intense workout, check out your local gym for prenatal exercise classes that are designed to be safe for you and your baby.

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