When you’re pregnant, there’s never a shortage of people who want to offer you advice on everything from breastfeeding to how to start saving for college. But perhaps the most common topic of conversation is exercise.
Most often, you will hear friends, family and strangers tell you to take it easy, put your feet up or avoid lifting and bending. However, exercise is a very important part of a healthy pregnancy and current guidelines suggest at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise every day.
Here’s a breakdown of the do's and don’ts of exercise to help keep you and your baby safe and healthy.
DO… exercise every day
Daily exercise during pregnancy has many benefits including increased energy, improved mood, better sleep, and an increased likelihood of easier labor and a healthy baby. When combined with a healthy diet, exercise is also a great way to decrease your chances of gestational diabetes. In addition, it can help decrease morning sickness, aches and pains, and weight gain.
DO… work with your doctor
Many OBGYN’s will advise that pregnant women keep their heart rate below 140bpm and not lift more than 15 pounds, but this advice is outdated. In 2002, ACOG revised their stance on exercise intensity to say that working out at a higher intensity is perfectly fine and recommended for most pregnant women. If you have questions, have an open dialog with your doctor about what intensity of exercise will be right for you and work with him or her to establish your own guidelines.
DO… work within your current fitness level
Pregnancy is not the time to start training for your first tough mudder. Stick to your regular routine and make adjustments as required.
DO… listen to your body
Pregnancy is a long nine months and you’re bound to have good days and bad days. When you have more energy you can push harder and when you’re exhausted you can call it quits and take a nap. To know when you should lay off or call your doctor, watch for any of these signs (suggested by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists): vaginal bleeding, shortness of breath prior to exertion, dizziness, headache, chest pain, muscle weakness, calf pain or swelling preterm labor, decreased fetal movement or amniotic fluid leakage.
DON'T… allow your body to become overheated
It’s important to remain cool and well hydrated while pregnant, so ditch the Bikrim yoga for an air-conditioned prenatal class and get your summer outdoor walking in early in the morning or later in the evening.
DON'T… participate in high-risk activities
You’ll have to avoid activities that have a high risk of falling or being struck. Some of these activities include downhill skiing, soccer, hockey, horseback riding, and scuba diving.
DON'T… lie on your back for long periods
During the second and third trimester lying flat for too long can compromise the blood flow to the baby.