Just because you’re pregnant, does not mean you get to be a “couch potato”. On the contrary. Because you’re pregnant and if you don’t want to become a “sack of potatoes”, you want to get off that couch! According to ACOG guidelines, if you are having a normal pregnancy, it is recommended to get 30 minutes of exercise per day to maintain good health. You might not always feel like it, especially in the third trimester when your belly is getting large and getting off the couch is an event in itself, but there are numerous advantages for you and your baby that will make it worth it.
Advantages of exercise during pregnancy:
- Improves energy
- Mood lifter
- Decreases back aches
- Decreases constipation
- Improves swelling
- Enhances sleep
- Improves muscle tone
- Increases strength and endurance (which will come in handy for labor)
You will need to check with your health care provider first before starting any exercise program. If you are already exercising before pregnancy, it is likely you will be able to continue with your regimen. If you don’t have a routine already in place, start slow; listen to your body and work your way up to 30 minutes a day.
There are certain hormone changes occurring during pregnancy that relax the ligaments that support your joints. The extra weight you gain puts stress on those joints and muscles and can affect your balance. Keep this important information in mind when you exercise, to help prevent falls and injuries that can occur. There are many exercises you can safely do, and there are some that are not recommended.
Great exercises during pregnancy:
- Bike riding
- Low impact aerobics
- Water aerobics
Exercises to avoid during pregnancy:
- Down hill skiing
- Contact sports – football, hockey, soccer
- Scuba diving – decompression issues can be harmful to the baby
- Exercises while lying on your back after the first trimester – can cause decreased circulation to your baby
Always have a water bottle handy when you exercise. Drinking lots of fluids will help avoid dehydration and exhaustion. Do not workout to breathlessness; avoid exercising in hot weather and wear comfortable clothes and shoes to prevent injuries.
Whether you are a veteran jogger or a novice walker, the following are warning signs to stop, get off your feet and possibly notify your health care provider.
Warning signs to stop exercising:
- Vaginal bleeding
- Fluid leaking from your vagina
- Chest pain
- Decreased fetal movement
- Muscle weakness
- Shortness of breath
- Calf pain or increased swelling
Most pregnancies are normal, so it is likely that you can exercise all the way up to your due date. Many cities offer prenatal classes and/or yoga classes specifically designed for pregnant women. Having fun will ensure compliance; and the payoff, a healthier you and your baby.