For many years and in many cultures (some still to this day), physical activity was discouraged while a woman was pregnant. There were fears propagating that women could harm themselves and the baby if they were to exert themselves in any way. Well, the truth has made its way throughout the world as medicine has advanced, health discoveries have been made, and studies have been done.
Exercise is actually encouraged for women during pregnancy, in moderation and condition dependent. Physical activity in pregnancy has minimal risks and has been shown to benefit most women. Although some exercise routines may need to be adjusted during pregnancy as you grow, women with uncomplicated pregnancies who exercise can maintain physical fitness, help manage weight gain, and can reduce the risk of getting gestational diabetes. The rule of thumb these days is, essentially, that if you were physically active before pregnancy then you are likely safe to be physically active during pregnancy. Sometimes there are health conditions that could suggest otherwise, and if that’s the case then your obstetrician will advise you.
Defining Exercise During Pregnancy
When most women think “exercise” they tend to picture someone working up a sweat and looking exhausted. Exercise doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t) look like that when you’re pregnant. Physical exercise is really any bodily movement that improves or maintains your physique and overall health and wellness.
The goal isn’t to overwork your body, but rather to strengthen your body in a way that helps alleviate some of the common discomforts of pregnancy and prepares your body for labor and delivery. You don’t want to exercise for weight loss purposes, as this could put you at a greater risk for a miscarriage in an otherwise normal pregnancy. Always use caution and don’t overdo it.
Benefits of Physical Activity During Pregnancy
Overall, it’s been noted that exercising for about 30 minutes a day can benefit a woman’s health during pregnancy. The goal is to keep your body active and get your blood flowing regularly. Some benefits that woman have experienced are:
- Reduced backaches, swelling, bloating, and constipation
- Prevention of gestational diabetes
- Increase in energy
- Improvements in mood
- Improved posture
- Increased muscle tone, endurance, and strength
- Better sleep patterns
- Improved ability to cope with labor
- Easier bounce back after baby is born
Physical Activities To Avoid During Pregnancy
While this list is not conclusive, it also is not 100% applicable to everyone. Your obstetrician’s recommendations should be listened to above all. However, activities you should typically avoid include any activities where:
- Falling is more likely
- Abdominal trauma could be caused, including contact sports, jarring motions or rapid changes in direction
- Extensive jumping, hopping, skipping, or bouncing are involved
- You may be standing and twisting
- Intense spurts of exercise are followed by no activity for long amounts of time
- It is hot and humid weather
- You have to hold your breath for an extended amount of time
Always Consult With a Medical Professional
Please consult your obstetrician to see how much exercise is recommended for you. Everyone is different, and you want to make sure you’re setting yourself up for a healthy pregnancy and labor!
Talk to one of our doctors at OGA by setting up an appointment at one of our locations.
This article is not intended to be medical advice and should not replace the advice of your treating medical professional.