Taking care of yourself throughout your pregnancy is the best way to help your baby to have a healthy start. Including some form of physical activity in your daily routine can improve your overall health and fitness, which will be good for your baby. One thing to keep in mind is that pregnancy is not the time to exercise with the intention of losing weight.
For most women, exercise during pregnancy is safe, particularly if you were physically active before you became pregnant. If you are healthy, it is probably safe to start or continue an exercise program during pregnancy, but it’s best to talk to your obstetrician to make sure he or she doesn’t have any concerns or restrictions that you should follow.
Benefits of Exercise
Exercise can do more than improve your overall physical fitness. Here are some of the other benefits of exercise
- Helps improve your mood
- Can help you sleep better
- May relieve bloating and constipation
- Can decrease back pain
- Increases your energy level
- Improves your posture
- Can help you not to gain excess weight
- May increase your strength and fitness and ultimately make it easier to cope with labor
Exercise may also make it easier for you to lose the pregnancy weight after the baby is born.
Choosing an Exercise During Your Pregnancy
If you were doing an exercise program before you got pregnant, you will probably be able to continue doing the same activities. If exercise is new to you, start slowly. Your OBGYN will give you some suggestions of exercises that are safe. Walking is one of the best exercises to help you to be more active without overdoing it. Yoga, swimming, and stretching exercises can also be very beneficial during your pregnancy.
You will want to avoid high-intensity aerobics, jumping or contact sports. Make sure to drink plenty of water and be careful not to hold your breath during exercise. Don’t exercise to the point of exhaustion or try to ignore warning signs that your body gives you such as pain or lightheadedness.
Conditions That May Make Exercise During Pregnancy Unsafe
There are certain conditions that may make it risky to exercise during pregnancy. Your OBGYN will probably advise against exercise if you have an existing health problem, such as heart disease or lung disease. If you have severe anemia or hypertension, you may also be cautioned against exercise.
If you are carrying multiples, your doctor may advise against exercise because of the risk of going into preterm labor. Other conditions may become apparent as your pregnancy progresses that make exercise no longer safe, such as preeclampsia or placenta previa after 26 weeks of pregnancy.
Considerations as Pregnancy Progresses
As your pregnancy progresses, there are other considerations that may affect your ability to exercise. The extra weight you are gaining shifts your center of gravity and increases your risk of falling. Hormones cause joints to become more mobile which could lead to pain or injury.
As your uterus grows, you may find that you are more and more short of breath. This may make it more difficult to do any type of strenuous exercise.
Signs That You Should Stop Exercising
There are certain signs that indicate you should stop exercising right away. These signs include:
- Leaking fluid or blood from the vagina
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Pain or swelling in the calf
- Painful or regular uterine contractions
If you experience any of these symptoms, call your OB/GYN right away. Throughout your pregnancy, keep in contact with your obstetrician and communicate how much you are exercising and how you are feeling.