Childbirth is one of the most physically stressful challenges a woman ever faces. Regular exercise during pregnancy can help because it:
Regular exercise is a very important part of a healthy lifestyle. If you are thinking about getting pregnant and have not been exercising most days of the week, now is a good time to start. The sooner you start exercising, the better you will feel during and after your pregnancy.
Many healthcare providers recommend exercising at least 30 minutes a day, 3 to 7 days a week, if you have no medical problems or problems with the pregnancy. Before you start an exercise program, discuss it with your healthcare provider. Make sure you follow your provider’s advice.
A big mistake many women make is not starting an exercise program until the last 3 months of pregnancy, when they start childbirth classes. Some exercise can be harder to do during the last 3 months because of the changes in your body. Your uterus and breasts are bigger and may change your center of gravity. This can affect your balance and make it easier for you to fall. Also, hormonal changes make your joints looser. This makes it easier to develop muscle spasms and hurt yourself. Also, if you have not been exercising regularly until late in pregnancy, even moderate exercise may decrease how much oxygen your baby gets. Simple walking may be the best exercise at this time.
If you are having certain problems with your pregnancy, you should not exercise. Exercise can change how much oxygen your baby gets. Even light exercise might hurt a baby that already has problems with getting enough oxygen. It’s especially important to not start an exercise program before talking to your healthcare provider if you:
In addition to your heart, the muscles that you should concentrate on during pregnancy are the muscles of your abdomen, back, and pelvis.
Many old ideas about strenuous exercise during pregnancy have been disproved in recent years. What kinds of sports and exercise you do during pregnancy depends on your health and on what you were doing before you got pregnant. Pregnancy is probably not a good time to take up a new strenuous sport. However, if you were active before you were pregnant you can probably keep doing your usual exercise, within reason.
Stop exercising and call your healthcare provider if you have any unusual symptoms, such as:
Also tell your healthcare provider if the baby is moving less during or after exercise
Remember that it is very important to discuss your plans for exercise with your provider. If you are having problems with your pregnancy, exercise is not advised. Talk to your provider if you have any questions.