Whether you were an exercise fanatic or didn’t exercise at all before pregnancy, you may be wondering if it’s safe to exercise during pregnancy and what moves you can and can’t do. Between conflicting advice from family and friends and influential people promoting harmful pregnancy exercises online, it can be difficult to address misinformation about pregnancy exercises and find evidence-based guidelines.
What are the benefits of exercise during pregnancy?
From reducing back pain to promoting a healthy weight during pregnancy, the benefits of prenatal exercise are enormous. “Studies show that women who exercise during pregnancy are more likely to have a vaginal delivery without complications and recover more quickly after delivery.
Regular exercise during pregnancy can strengthen the heart and blood vessels, as well as relieve constipation (an annoying pregnancy symptom). Exercise is also important in the postpartum period because it can help improve mood and reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis.
Exercise is great not only for you, but also for your baby. “Women who exercise during pregnancy have a lower incidence of complications such as excessive weight gain, gestational diabetes, gestational hypertension, preeclampsia, preterm birth, lower birth weight, caesarean section, and vaginal delivery.
Is Exercise Safe During Pregnancy?
Dr. Tewari says it’s safe and strongly recommends that women with uncomplicated pregnancies exercise during their pregnancy. “Exercise is essential for optimal health – both for your mind and body – and for a vibrant life.”
“General guidelines recommend that women who did vigorous physical activity before pregnancy can continue these activities during pregnancy and after delivery,” said Dr. Tewari, however, don’t be surprised if you have to reduce the intensity of your workouts as you adjust to the many changes in your body. Dr. Tewari adds that it’s perfectly safe to exercise until the end of your pregnancy, but it’s important to contact your obstetrician who can recommend changes to your exercise program.
While exercising before pregnancy is ideal, many women are motivated to develop healthy habits and start a good exercise program during pregnancy. “If you have a normal pregnancy, you can start exercising at any time; start with light exercise and then gradually increase the intensity,” says Dr. Tewari, he also emphasizes the importance of listening to your body and always consult your gynecologist. “Our bodies are designed to move every day, whether pregnant or not.”
There are situations where pregnant women should only exercise after further examination by their midwife, advises Dr. Tewari. These include symptoms such as vaginal bleeding, abdominal or pelvic pain, amniotic fluid leaking into the vagina, dizziness, headache, chest pain, calf pain or swelling, muscle weakness affecting balance, labor pains, and regular contractions.
How much exercise is recommended during pregnancy?
“The current recommendation for pregnant women and mothers after giving birth is at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week,” explained Dr. Tewari. You can split 150 minutes into 30-minute workouts five days a week or smaller 10-minute workouts a day. But don’t be discouraged if you can’t do the full 150 minutes a week; any activity and movement is better than nothing, especially during pregnancy.
Exercise modification during pregnancy.
As the baby and belly grow, several changes are required among the many other changes in pregnancy. Joints relax, the extra weight in front of your body shifts your center of gravity, and breathing can become more difficult as your oxygen needs decrease during pregnancy. “Every person and every pregnancy is different, so the basic rule is to always listen to your body and take it as a guide,” says Antonieta Vicario, Integrative Health Coach, Vice President of Talent and Training at P.volve.
Here are some basic exercise modifications to keep in mind as your pregnancy progresses:
- Avoid sudden movements and jumps.
- Avoid exercising at high temperatures.
- Avoid flat back exercises.
- Avoid Abdominal Crunches.
- Avoid Contact Sports.