Finding out you’re pregnant causes some major shifts in terms of lifestyle choices and perspective, and it can feel as if all you want to do is lay down and play it safe to protect the developing fetus. Experts agree, however, that regular moderate exercise is not only safe – it’s essential for most pregnant women to enjoy a healthy pregnancy, labor and delivery.
Talk to your OB about your exercise choices
In almost all cases, your OB will give you the go ahead when it comes to exercise and pregnancy. That being said, you should always discuss your exercise plans with your doctor to make sure, especially if you haven’t been exercising regularly before you got pregnant.
Odds are, you’ll learn that eating well and getting regular exercise are two of the most important steps you can take to improve the health of you and your baby. Exercise can:
- Reduce the symptoms of morning sickness
- Help you sleep better
- Develop strength and stamina for labor
- Improve your mood
- Regulate pregnancy weight gain while simultaneously preparing your body for the inevitable weight you’ll gain as your baby grows
So, yes! You can and should exercise during early pregnancy. BUT – it’s important that you do the right types of exercise. It’s also imperative that you listen to your body – resting when it needs to rest and hydrating when you feel thirsty, etc.
Stick to exercises that are mild- to moderate
Pregnancy is not a time to continue those extreme sports – like marathons, triathlons, record-breaking track runs or exercises that pose a physical risk or hard impact to your body (contact sports, rock climbing, jumping horses, etc.).
The safest exercises are those that range from mild- to moderate. Here are examples of exercises that are safe during your early pregnancy and throughout the third trimester:
Walking, hiking and/or running
Walking and hiking are always safe activities, and it’s good for you to get outdoors. Sunshine is key for optimal Vitamin D production and absorption and fresh air and exposure to nature is good for your mental and emotional well-being.
Running is also safe as long as you were a runner before you got pregnant (if you weren’t running before, consider walking and other forms of exercise until the baby arrives to be on the safe side). However, there are certain things to remember to ensure runs don’t push you over to the “unsafe exercise” category:
- Get an official “okay” to run from your OB, along with an approved running plan
- Modify your runs as your body changes and your belly grows larger (consider substituting a milder exercise form on one of your normal run days)
- Stick to stable running surfaces
- Cease running if you experience any signs of complications, physical pain, discomfort or strain
Yoga and Pilates
Both yoga and pilates are pregnancy-safe exercises. While pregnant, it’s best to participate in classes designed for prenatal women to ensure all of the exercises are safe for your pregnant body and your baby. You’ll want to avoid exercises and poses that:
- Have you lying flat on your back once you’re into the later 2nd and/or 3rd trimesters
- Require abdominal twisting
- Place your feet above your head – such as inverted poses
You should also avoid Bikram (hot yoga) classes or any high-impact classes designed for intense-level aerobic workouts.
Swimming and water exercise
Swimming laps and water exercise classes are great for you during pregnancy, allowing you to get an aerobic workout while providing whole-body support. You’ll especially appreciate water exercises as you get bigger and heavier – submerging yourself in a medium that makes you feel light and buoyant.
Exercising during pregnancy is proven to reduce the risk of certain pregnancy complications and can relieve typical pregnancy discomforts. And remember, it’s always important to listen to your body, never pushing it beyond its limits while pregnant.
The team at Women’s Health Associates is dedicated to promoting holistic wellness before, during and after your pregnancy. Contact us to schedule a consultation and enjoy the luxury of being cared for by an all-female team that provides personalized pre- and postnatal care.