Exercising pregnant...

It’s an important time in a woman’s life to be conceiving/growing a child, and naturally, many of us want to stay in shape while also keeping our baby safe. A lot can happen during those nine months, so it helps to know how exercise fits into the equation.

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The number one question most women ask once they get pregnant is, can I still workout?

Now, with every woman, it’s going to be different. There are a lot of factors to put in with each situation- were they active before becoming pregnant, do they have any preexisting medical conditions that could complicate things, or are there any physical complications that could put the developing child at risk? These are all very important considerations that need to be discussed and evaluated by a healthcare provider, so it’s important to get a full medical evaluation before committing to any exercise programs.

Your healthcare provider will be able to help you determine whether or not exercise is appropriate, and establish the proper guidelines tailored to your unique experience of pregnancy.

Once you’re in the clear to exercise, here are some guidelines to follow through:

  • Stick to low-impact exercises that don’t involve a lot of plyometric jumps or explosive exercises.
  • Other activities you can engage in include walking, swimming, stationary cycling, and prenatal yoga, pilates and strength training exercises.
  • Avoid sports with a high risk of falling or contact sports
  • Do not do any exercises in hot environments, like Hot Yoga, Barre, or Pilates or outside at extreme temperatures.
  • Avoid exercises that require you to lie flat on your stomach and back after your first trimester.
  • Be sure to practice proper recovery and relaxation after working out; avoid overtraining or taking exercise to any extremes.
  • Remember to stay hydrated and take as many breaks as you can if needed

How do you know if your exercise program is working against you during pregnancy? First, listen to your body, always. This is especially important when you are pregnant, as you not only putting yourself at risk, but also your baby. Next, stop immediately and call your healthcare provider if any of these things occur:

  • Headaches, dizziness, or feeling lightheaded
  • A decrease or stop in fetal movement
  • Pain or swelling in the calves
  • Chest pain and rapid or uneven heartbeat
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Uterine contractions that continue after resting
  • Regular, painful contractions
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fluid leaking from the vagina
  • Weakness in the muscles that affect your balance
  • Pain in the lower back

Even though there are things to look out for and avoid during pregnancy, you can still enjoy the benefits of regular exercise. There are actual benefits from remaining active during this time. By choosing to maintain some level of fitness and exercise, you actually help to prepare your body for some of the physical challenges that come from being pregnant. You’ll also improve your sleep, give your mood a boost, stay energized, maintain or promote more strength, endurance and even a bit of muscle, and prevent excessive weight gain. Another possible benefit is cutting down the risk of developing gestational diabetes, which is a common complication from pregnancy.

So yes, it is possible to keep a workout schedule and stay active during pregnancy within reason. You will have to make a few adjustments and avoid certain things for a short while, but in the end, you’ll be doing yourself and your body and baby a service by choosing to remain healthy through regular exercise.