As a Rehab Technician at Oahu Spine and Rehab, I get tons of questions about safe exercises to do and how to properly perform them. Lately there have been an abundance of questions on safe pregnancy exercises like, when can I start exercising? When should I stop? Is it safe for me or baby to do this movement? The one answer I always give first, is to make sure you speak with your obstetrician or health care provider about anything you are planning on doing and get their opinion. It is always a good idea to speak with your health care provider about your physical activity and changes throughout your pregnancy. Once your health care provider has spoken to you about what they feel is appropriate for you, the best thing to keep in mind is always listen to your body!
The human body is very effective in giving signs and symptoms when something is wrong or not working properly. During pregnancy, a woman is usually very in tuned with her body and aware of the changes that are taking place. This allows the woman to be more aware of these signs that an exercise may not be the best for you or your baby. According to American pregnancy guidelines, a woman should “Never exercise to the point of exhaustion or breathlessness. This is a sign that your baby and your body cannot get the oxygen they need.”
Years ago many people felt and thought that it was unsafe for a pregnant woman to exercise. More recently, research information has come out about how regular exercise is very beneficial to both mother and baby. On social media, the term “fit pregnancy” has been coined referring to mothers that work out and exercise during their pregnancy! Some of the many benefits to exercise during pregnancy are:
- Helps reduce backaches, constipation, bloating, and swelling
- May help prevent, or treat, gestational diabetes
- Increases your energy
- Improves your mood
- Improves your posture
- Promotes muscle tone, strength, and endurance
- Helps you sleep better
- Regular activity also helps keep you fit during pregnancy and may improve your ability to cope with labor. This will make it easier for you to get back in shape after your baby is born.
For most women, if you have been previously active prior to your pregnancy, continuing an exercise program should not be a problem and can be modify the program as you progress in the pregnancy. Research has shown that exercise does not increase the risk of miscarriage in a normal low risk, but like stated before, exercise programs should be discussed with your healthcare provider. For women who are just starting an exercise program to help improve your health during pregnancy, starting slow and considering simple exercises like walking, Prenatal Yoga, and swimming is a good idea. For women who weight train regularly, it is important to focus on toning and avoid heavy weights and lifting movements that could strain your back. And one of the most important things to remember during your second and third trimester is to avoid exercises that involve laying on your back, this can decrease blood flow to the uterus which can cause problems for you and your baby that can be very serious. Over all remember to stay hydrated and somewhat cool. Overheating and dehydration can also be serious during pregnancy, so remember to drink plenty of water and watch your heart rate.
Although there are many benefits to exercise during pregnancy it is good to be aware of the signs and symptoms that are telling you to stop exercising. If you experience any of these symptoms please call your health care provider:
- Vaginal bleeding
- Dizziness or feeling faint
- Increased shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Muscle weakness
- Calf pain or swelling
- Uterine contractions
- Decreased fetal movement
- Fluid leaking from the vagina
Attached are some simple exercises that can benefit pregnant women as well as their unborn baby. Good luck and always listen to your body!
Click here for some Safe Exercises while you’re pregnant!
Oahu Spine and Rehab HEP
Planning Your Pregnancy and Birth Third Ed. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Ch. 5. American Academy of Family Physicians, http://familydoctor.org/