Many women are encouraged to modify certain aspects of their lifestyle when they become pregnant to best prepare them and their baby for safe gestation and delivery. This includes more health-conscious activities such as eating healthy, making sure to get sufficient nutrients, or maintaining a healthy weight. The questions regarding exercises (types, frequency) often come up.
10 Things To Remember When Exercising While Pregnant
In the article “Exercise in Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period,” authors grossly refer to the recommendations of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in Canada (SOGC) in regards to exercise during pregnancy, which consists of ten main points:
- All women without contraindications should be encouraged to participate in aerobic and strength-conditioning exercises as part of a healthy lifestyle during their pregnancy.
- Women who are just starting an aerobic exercise program during pregnancy who were previously sedentary should begin with 15 minutes of continuous exercises 3x/wk and increase gradually to 30 minutes x 4x/wk.
- Women who have been exercising prior to pregnancy may continue their usual exercise regimen during pregnancy, but using the following recommendations below.
- Reasonable goals of aerobic conditioning in pregnancy should be to maintain a good fitness level throughout pregnancy without trying to reach peak fitness or train for an athletic competition.
- Limit exercise to minimal or moderate levels to avoid overexertion
- Women should choose activities that will minimize the risk of imbalance and fetal trauma
- Examples include: swimming, stationary cycling, brisk walking
- Women should be advised that adverse pregnancy or neonatal outcomes are not increased for exercising women
- Initiation of pelvic floor exercises in the immediate postpartum period may reduce the risk of future urinary incontinence.
- Women should be advised that moderate exercise during lactation does not affect the quantity or composition of breast milk or impact infant growth.
These 10 points are used as guidelines advising obstetric care providers regarding maternal, fetal and neonatal implications of aerobic and strength-conditioning exercises in pregnancy. It is highly advised for any women considered as having a high-risk pregnancy to refer to the primary care doctor or OB-GYN before starting any exercise regimen.
Is It Safe To Exercise During Pregnancy?
One question that our physical therapists get frequently is: is it safe to work out while I’m pregnant?
The short answer is, YES!
Staying active during pregnancy can be extremely healthy for you and your baby.
In the day and age of social media, you are bound to see pictures of women on Instagram that are 8 months pregnant and still competing in CrossFit competitions. Don’t worry, that doesn’t have to be you. The level of extremity in exercising is really dependent on the mother. If you have prior health conditions or any complications with your pregnancy, make sure you talk to your doctor before you start to work out while pregnant. If you were an active person prior to pregnancy, working out during your pregnancy should not be an issue. If you aren’t usually active, make sure you check with your doctor or your physical therapist to see what exercises you should and shouldn’t do, as well as making sure you’re not overdoing it for your body and babies.
A study conducted by the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology concludes that women who exercise 30-90 minutes 3-4 times a week are more likely to have a vaginal birth as opposed to a C-section. They also found that those who exercised this often had fewer occurrences of gestational diabetes and hypertension during pregnancy. Based on these findings, who wouldn’t want to put a little work into some cardio during pregnancy?
Some things to avoid:
- Exercises lying on your back after your first trimester
- Abdominal exercises (can cause diastasis recti)
- Anything activity or sport that can cause abdominal trauma (horseback riding, water skiing, gymnastics, etc.)
- Hiking at extremely high altitudes
Some exercises to try:
- Deep Stretching
- Prenatal Yoga
- Mom squats (wider legs)
- Running or Light Cardio
- Standing free weights
If you have more questions regarding working out during pregnancy, talk to your primary care physician. If you are suffering from any sort of chronic or pregnancy-related pain, give us a call today to set up an appointment at 488-5555. Using our integrated healthcare approach, we will create a personalized treatment plan to assure that you are pain-free as quickly as possible.