Doesn’t really seem like the two should go together. After all, pregnant women are disabled right? We should be on 10 months of bedrest while we carry our children. WRONG. You can be pregnant and healthy and fit! Many women prove this every single day.
At my last prenatal visit, my OB GYN asked me if I had been exercising. I paused, then gave her the extreme side eye and quietly mumbled “no” under my breath. She smiled and asked me why not and I told her this time around I simply don’t have the energy. I am sure you have heard that each pregnancy is totally different and this one is definitely taking more of a toll than my previous one. During my first pregnancy, I did CrossFit until I was 4 months and then continued doing cardio and strength workouts on my own. I actually only gained 15 pounds in my last pregnancy!
This time, I have worked out once. ONCE. And honestly, I want to do better. ACOG (The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) states that women who have uncomplicated pregnancies, should be encouraged to engage in aerobic and strength conditioning exercises, before, during and after pregnancy.
For healthy pregnant and postpartum women, guidelines from the U.S. department of Health and Human Services recommend at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (the equivalent of brisk walking).
Did you know that physical inactivity is the fourth leading factor for early mortality worldwide? Pregnant women and their providers are concerned about preterm labor, miscarriage and poor fetal growth but these claims have not been substantiated. Physical activity during pregnancy is safe as long as you have an uncomplicated pregnancy.
The following are contraindications to exercising in pregnancy:
- Significant heart disease
- Incompetent cervix
- Preterm rupture of membranes
- Restrictive lung disease
- Persistent bleeding in the second or third trimesters
- Placenta previa after 26 weeks
Examples of safe exercises in pregnancy include:
- Modified Pilates or Yoga (modified because some positions can decrease venous return to the baby)
- Strength training (modify the weight)
- Low impact aerobics
Examples of unsafe exercises in pregnancy include:
- Contact sports like boxing or basketball
- Scuba diving
- Sky diving
- “Hot” Yoga or Pilates
- Exercises with a high risk of falling (water skiing, gymnastics, horseback riding)
ACOG states that pregnancy is a great time to begin exercising because of the frequent physician visits that accompany pregnancy. Pregnanct women should always consult with their physician first before beginning any exercise program. While exercising, pregnant women should remain hydrated and avoid lying on their backs for a long period of time as there is increased pressure from the growing uterus.
The following warning signs are definite reasons to stop exercising while pregnant:
- Chest pain
- Calf pain or swelling
- Leaking of amniotic fluid
- Painful contractions
Additional research continues on this topic but overall, exercise is safe in pregnancy as long as your pregnancy is uncomplicated and you talk to your physician first!
Did you exercise in your pregnancy? Why or why not? I would love to hear from you in the comments.