Safe Pregnancy Exercise6 min readReading Time: 5 minutes
As most of us know, it’s very good for you and your baby to continue exercising during pregnancy, but we also know that many pregnant women feel uncertain about how to engage in a safe pregnancy exercise routine. We hope to make everything a bit clearer with this blog post so you can stay active and healthy <3
There are great benefits from exercising during pregnancy:
- A controlled weight gain. The stomach will grow and you will add weight (as should you!) but the more isn’t the merrier. With the help of exercise you keep the blood sugar in check and you’ll better maintain your muscle volume. Both contributing factors to a healthy, instead of unnecessary, weight gain.
- An increased chance of a smooth childbirth with less complications and a faster postpartum recovery.
- Reduced risk of suffering from pregnancy diabetes and high blood pressure.
- A better sleep and a higher resistance to stress.
- Improved blood circulation which leads to less swelling.
- Reduced risk of back pain and other pregnancy related discomforts.
- Improved oxygen absorption (even for the baby) and more energy.
Here are some tips for those who want to exercise safely during pregnancy:
1. Talk to your Midwife or Doctor.
If you exercised regularly before you became pregnant and the pregnancy is free from complications, you are likely safe to continue exercising as you did before pregnancy. But with some minor adaptations that we will walk through further down. In some cases though it’s not okay to exercise during pregnancy hence it’s always important to get an “all clear” from your Doctor or Midwife. If you want to do some reading to better understand the limitations regarding exercise during pregnancy you can read the list below:
The following conditions are contraindications to pregnancy exercises. See the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) for more detailed safety information
- Pregnancy-induced hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Preterm rupture of membranes
- Premature labour during the prior or current pregnancy or both
- Incompetent cervix (a surgical procedure to close the cervix to keep the foetus intact in utero)
- Persistent second or third-trimester bleeding
- Intrauterine growth retardation
In addition, women with certain other conditions, including chronic hypertension (high blood pressure) or active thyroid, cardiac, vascular or pulmonary disease, should be evaluated carefully in order to determine whether a pregnancy exercise program is appropriate.
2. Eat nutritious food
Exercise burns calories so make sure to eat some extra calories from nutritious food to strengthen your body and to facilitate a quick recovery. You can read about how to eat a healthy pregnancy diet that includes all pregnancy vitamins here! And don’t be afraid to gain weight. Pregnant women are supposed to gain weight as the baby grows. Stressing over the weight gain may be as bad as gaining too much weight. How many extra kilos you should gain depends on your physique before pregnancy. Hopefully your midwife can help you with guidelines uniquely suited for you (if you want to) since she’s tracking your weight and development throughout the pregnancy.
3. Avoid extreme sports or full contact sports
Activities with increased risk of losing balance or getting blows to the belly like horseback riding, downhill skiing, martial arts, mountain biking are best avoided during pregnancy. If you are an experienced cyclist, it’s okay to continue bicycling while the belly is small and the baby is well hidden. But at the end of the pregnancy it’s safer to stick to exercise bikes if you want to continue with bicycling. Regardless of your normal body control, you’ll be more prone to stumble during pregnancy because of the hormone “relaxin” that relaxes your joints and ligaments.
4. Wear maternity activewear
Wear maternity activewear that is adapted especially for pregnant women. It’s important that the activewear breathes and doesn’t sit too tight over the belly. Dress in multiple layers so it’s easy to peel one layer off if you get too hot. Make sure to have a sports bra with proper support and choose shoes that fit your feet and increase your balance.
5. Include a proper warm-up
Prepare your muscles and joints for exercise by slowly increasing your heart rate. If you skip the warm-up and start right away with a strenuous activity you might experience a lot of pain in your muscles and joints after the exercise.
6. Drink plenty of water
Drink water before, during and after exercise. Otherwise you risk becoming dehydrated which can cause contractions and your body temperature to rise.
7. Don’t exercise on your back
Avoid lying flat on your back after the first trimester. The uterus may put pressure on the vena, a large heart vein, reducing the blood flow to the heart. It may also reduce blood flow to the uterus. All previous may cause symptoms like dizziness, shortness of breath or nausea. If you place a pillow under your right hip or buttocks, you can be lying down almost completely without straining the pelvic vein.
8. Don’t overwork yourself
Do not exercise until you are completely exhausted. The intensity level for safe pregnancy exercise should be around the same level as a brisk power walk. Also make sure to exercise because you want to become strong and healthy, not because you are punishing yourself. Intentions are key to not overworking yourself <3
9. Don’t get too hot
Avoid getting too hot, especially during the first trimester when your child’s most important organ develops. The increased blood flow and volume during pregnancy make you feel warmer than usual and you’ll sweat more easily. Your body actually gets better at cooling itself through sweating, which is the body’s cooling system. But it might be good to avoid hot exercises like Hot Yoga and exercises in a warm climate with poor ventilation (and jacuzzis and saunas).The signs of overheating are individual, but pay attention to if you feel uncomfortably warm, nauseous, dizzy or if you experience shortness of breath. To cool down quickly – stop the workout, drink cold water, remove some clothes and/or shower in cold water.
10. Get up from the floor slowly
As your stomach grows, your center of gravity will shift. Therefore it’s important that you be careful when you are changing positions. Getting up from the floor too quickly can make you dizzy and may cause you to lose balance and fall.
Finish the exercise by taking five to ten minutes to do pregnancy-friendly stretching exercises. It will help your heart rate to return to normal and prevent sore muscles.
12. Make this safe pregnancy exercise a habit
Include safe pregnancy exercise in your everyday schedule. Having a regular workout routine is gentler on your body than long periods of inactivity interrupted by intense activity. As long as your midwife and doctor think it’s okay, you can exercise 30 minutes a day, every day of the week.
Always consult with your doctor or midwife to get an all clear before starting a new workout routine.
Get your maternity activewear here!