Is it safe to work out while pregnant?
Pregnancy is a time for rejoicing, shopping for baby clothes, and (most of all) staying fit and healthy.
At the same time, a lot of what you have taken for granted is called into question. Is working out while pregnant always safe? Should you still jog? What about taking a sauna after working out?
Here’s your guide to staying in shape safely during pregnancy. Fortunately, there are many exercises that are not only allowed but recommended. In short, working out while pregnant is very important for a strong and healthy delivery.
The importance of working out while pregnant
If you’re healthy and experiencing a normal pregnancy, physical activity does not increase your risk of miscarriage. Nor does it increase your risk of a low birth weight or early delivery. That being said, every woman is different. Talk to your doctor early on during pregnancy to find an exercise plan that works for you.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that pregnant women get at least 150 minutes of “moderate” aerobic activity every week. The goal is to raise your heart rate enough to start sweating.
Other benefits of working out while pregnant include:
- Reduced back pain and constipation
- Potentially decreased risk for cesarean delivery
- Healthy weight gain during pregnancy
- Improved general fitness and strengthened heart and blood vessels
- Reduced baby weight post-pregnancy
Safe exercises during pregnancy
If you were very active before pregnancy, you can keep doing the same workouts with your healthcare professional’s approval. However, if you lose weight, you may need to increase the number of calories you eat.
Some great ideas for working out while pregnant include gentle yoga, brisk walking, swimming, or riding an exercise bike. Moderate activity like controlled weightlifting, jogging, bicycling, and dancing is okay, too.
With some activities, such as yoga or Pilates, you can even take a prenatal class designed for pregnant women. If such a class is not available, work with your teacher to modify your positions to protect your abdomen and maintain balance.
Exercises to avoid
If you were playing rugby before pregnancy, now’s the time to change sports! You don’t want to participate in any activity where there’s a risk of falling or getting hit in the abdomen. This includes basketball, soccer, skiing, horseback riding, and mountain biking.
Also avoid scuba diving, “hot yoga,” skydiving, or workouts above 6,000 feet, unless you live in a high altitude location.
In short, don’t overdo it. Get your sweat on, but if before pregnancy you were a marathoner, it might be best to cut back. For example, in your third trimester, pushing yourself to the point of exhaustion can be dangerous. It can divert oxygen that should be going to your baby. Also, you don’t want to become overheated, so be especially careful in hot and humid weather.
More workout tips
Drink plenty of water before, during, and after a workout. A sports bra will be helpful as your breasts grow and become more sensitive. In your second and third trimesters, you may want to wear a belly support belt to reduce discomfort.
Doctors also recommend that you avoid lying flat on your back since you could press on a large vein that diminishes blood flow to the uterus.