Exercising during pregnancy is helpful in various ways. It not only helps in boosting mood, improving sleep but also reduces pains and aches. It helps in preparing you for childbirth, helps in building endurance and makes it easier for you to get back in shape after the delivery. Experts say that exercising during pregnancy lowers the risk of developing gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and prevents complications.
Rules for Safe Pregnancy Exercising
- Consult with your Doctor or Healthcare Provider: Talk to your provider and ask him to recommend a workout routine according to your condition. Make sure that the exercises you do during pregnancy is not putting your baby at risk.
- Make Sure You Get Enough Calories: Exercise burns calories is a known fact. Therefore, you need to eat well to nourish yourself and your baby. If your BMI (body mass index) is in a good range i.e. between 18.5 and 24.9, you need to have 340 calories per day in the second trimester and 450 calories per day in the third trimester. Use the BMI calculator at regular intervals to check the progress.
- Avoid Dangerous Sports: Try to avoid activities that have the potential for hard falls such as horseback riding, skiing, surfing, gymnastics, surfing, etc. and the high-contact sports like basketball, soccer, and boxing. You should also avoid exercises that require you to lie flat on your back and lower back exercises during pregnancy. This position can reduce the blood flow to your brain and uterus making you dizzy and nauseated.
- Wear Right Clothes: Wear loose-fitted and breathable clothes. Add up layers so that you can peel off one when you feel like. Buy a supportive maternity bra and choose a pair of perfectly fitted athletic shoes.
- Do not Forget to Warm Up: Make your body ready for exercise by warming yourself up. The warm-up prepares your muscles and joints for a workout session and slowly increases your heart rate.
- Drink Enough Fluids: Keep yourself hydrated by drinking water before, during, and after exercising. Dehydration can lead to a reduced amount of blood reaching the placenta and can increase the risk of overheating or contractions.
- Keep Yourself Moving: Do not remain motionless or stand in one place for prolonged periods. Exercises like yoga and weight training involve standing in one place for long periods and can reduce the blood flow to your heart and uterus.
- Do not Punish Your Body by Overdoing it: Do not wait for yourself to get exhausted. You do not need to overdo it.
- Avoid Exercising in Heat or Humid Condition: Your body is already warmer than the usual when you workout. Therefore, it is advisable not to exercise in hot and humid environments.
- Change your Positions Slowly: As your belly grows, your center of gravity shifts. Get up from the floor slowly and take care while changing your positions.
Best Exercises During Pregnancy
- Walking: One of the best and easiest cardio exercises for pregnant women, walking does not require any equipment and is safe to do throughout your pregnancy.
- Swimming: Swimming allows exercise for both the arms and the legs, reduces swelling, offer cardiovascular benefits and is beneficial for women with low back pain.
- Aerobics: Aerobics helps in strengthening your heart and tones your body.
- Dancing: This is also a good exercising option when you are pregnant. However, you should avoid dance forms that require leaps, twirls, or jumps.
- Running: Running is an excellent exercising option for a pregnant woman. Start at a slow pace on short routes if you are a newbie.
- Yoga: Yoga not only helps in maintaining toned muscle but also keeps your body flexible.
- Stretching: Keep your body limber and relaxed by adding different stretching techniques to your routine.
- Weight Training: The big question is, ‘Can you lift weights while pregnant?’. Weight training while pregnant is safe as long as you take necessary precautions.
When Not to Exercise during Pregnancy?
In some cases, exercising during pregnancy is strictly not allowed in order to protect both the mother’s and baby’s health. You should always consult your doctor before beginning, continuing, or changing your fitness regime.
As per the ACOG, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, expecting mothers should avoid aerobic exercises if they have any of the listed conditions:
- Certain types of heart and lung disease
- Cervical Insufficiency or Cerclage (premature dilation), a condition when your cervix starts to efface or dilate too soon.
- Multiple pregnancies (twins, triplets or more), increased risk of preterm labor
- Persistent bleeding in the 2nd or 3rd trimester
- Placenta previa after 26 weeks, i.e. your placenta is lying low in your uterus, next to your cervix or covering it during later pregnancy.
- Preterm labor
- Ruptured membranes i.e., your water has already broken
- Preeclampsia or gestational hypertension, a condition that can cause high blood pressure, kidney damage, and other problems
- Severe anemia
What to Check with Your Doctor Before Exercising?
There are certain conditions when you need to work out with caution. You may ask your doctor or healthcare provider to recommend you a safe exercising routine.
- Abnormal heart rhythm
- Chronic bronchitis
- Poorly controlled high blood pressure
- Poorly controlled type 1 diabetes
- Extreme underweight or morbid obesity
- Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) in the current pregnancy, a condition when your baby appears to be smaller than expected
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Bone or joint injuries
- Poorly controlled hyperthyroidism
- Poorly controlled seizure disorder
- History of heavy smoking
Pregnancy Exercise- Early Signs to Stop
You need to pay extra attention to the signs and symptoms that may be an indication of certain problems with your health or pregnancy. Following is the list of signs that may give a good indication to you for stopping the exercise immediately and consult your doctor.
- Decreased Fetal Movement: If you feel there is a sudden decrease in your baby’s movement, i.e. your baby is not moving as she normally does.
- Headache and Dizziness: If you still have headaches or feel dizzy and fatigued even after resting down and having some water. This may indicate severe anemia.
- Fainting: Fainting could be an indication of dehydration, low iron level, and heart or circulation problems. You (and your baby) may not be getting enough oxygen to your brain.
- Heart Palpitations: Heart palpitations may be suggestive of overexertion, dehydration, thyroid disease, severe anemia, or heart problems.
- Chest Pain: Chest pain can be a signal of heart or lung problems.
- Swelling or Pain in the Calf: Swelling or calf pain could be a sign of DVT, Deep Vein Thrombosis (a condition of blood clot affecting veins deep in the thigh or lower leg and occurs particularly on one side of the body).
- Vaginal Bleeding: Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy is a major concern. In early pregnancy, it could be a sign of miscarriage. In the 2nd and 3rd trimesters, it can be associated with premature labor and placental complications.
- Recurring abdominal pain or Contractions
- Leaking of Fluid (or gushing) from your Vagina
- Shortness of Breath: Shortness of breath can be a signal of asthma or fluid in the lungs.
Exercising during pregnancy is quite beneficial and the ACOG recommends a healthy pregnant woman to exercise at least 20 to 30 minutes a day. An ideal workout regime can manage your weight gain, keeps you limber and flexible and prepares you for a healthy journey throughout the pregnancy and even after that.