Guidelines surrounding pregnancy and exercise have changed through the decades. Contrary to past belief, physical activity during pregnancy does not increase your risk of miscarriage or premature delivery. Not only is exercise safe during these nine months, but it can provide several valued benefits for both you and your baby. Beyond allowing you to maintain your fitness level as your belly expands, exercise can also improve back pain, constipation and your risk for gestational diabetes. However, never embark on an exercise regime without first discussing your plans with your physician. There are certain exercises that are unsafe during pregnancy and certain conditions of pregnancy that prohibit extra physical activity.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) offers the following advice about exercise during pregnancy:
What pregnancy complications/conditions makes exercise unsafe?
- Certain types of heart and lung diseases
- Cervical insufficiency or cerclage
- Being pregnant with multiples
- Placenta previa after 26 weeks of pregnancy
- Preterm labor or ruptured membranes
- Preeclampsia or pregnancy-induced high blood pressure
- Severe anemia
How much exercise is okay?
Given it is a healthy pregnancy, women are advised to undergo 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week. Here’s the catch – if you are new to exercise, this isn’t the time to rush into new fitness goals. However, if you have maintained a very active workout regime before your pregnancy, it is probably okay to continue as long as your physician approves, and you are not losing weight.
Which exercises should be avoided during pregnancy?
There are some “no-no’s” when it comes to exercising during pregnancy or during certain stages of your pregnancy. These include horseback riding, sky diving, contact sports, hot yoga and any exercise that requires you to lie flat on your back for long periods of time. You can still get those exercise-induced endorphins and other benefits from safer workouts such as a stationary bike, walking, swimming and even modified pilates/yoga.
What signs indicate that exercise should be stopped?
Listen to your body. If you are exercising and notice the following symptoms listed by ACOG, please discontinue the activity and follow up with your physician as soon as possible:
- Bleeding from the vagina
- Feeling dizzy or faint
- Shortness of breath before starting exercise
- Chest pain
- Muscle weakness
- Calf pain or swelling
- Regular, painful contractions of the uterus
- Fluid leaking from the vagina
Moving is Good – Even During Pregnancy
With today’s medical knowledge and research, we know that moving the body is good for the joints, muscles and heart as well as the mind and mood. With surging hormones and unavoidable weight increases, exercise can be a healthy way to cope with the changes that occur during pregnancy. To get a trusted obstetrician’s approval on your workout routine during pregnancy, please schedule your consult at North Pointe OB/GYN today.