“Is it safe to exercise while pregnant?”
This is one of the most commonly asked questions I hear among active, healthy pregnant women, especially those living in the outdoor culture of the Aspen and Roaring Fork Valleys. For the most part, the answer is “yes” and it is actually recommended to do so. There are instances and medical reasons that may make it dangerous, and you should always check with your Obstetrician before starting any type of exercise program during your pregnancy. Some examples of medical conditions may include: asthma, heart disease, or diabetes. Exercise may also be harmful if you have a pregnancy-related condition such as: Bleeding or spotting, low-lying placenta, threatened or recurrent miscarriage, weak cervix, previous premature births or history of early labor. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology ACOG recommends 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise per day on most if not all days of the week, unless you have a medical or pregnancy complication. If you were physically active before your pregnancy, you should be able to continue your activity in moderation. Don’t try to exercise at your former level; instead, do what’s most comfortable for you now. Low impact aerobics are encouraged versus high impact. The pregnant competitive athlete should be closely followed by an obstetrician.
According to ACOG-Guidelines for exercise during pregnancy below:
Benefits of exercise may include:
- Helps reduce backaches, constipation, bloating, and swelling
- May help prevent or treat gestational diabetes
- Increases your energy
- Improves your mood
- Improves your posture
- Promotes muscle tone, strength, and endurance
- Helps you sleep better
What forms of exercise are safe during pregnancy?
Walking is a good exercise for anyone. Swimming is great for your body because it works so many muscles. Cycling provides a good aerobic workout. Aerobics is a good way to keep your heart and lungs strong. If you were a runner before you became pregnant, you often can keep running during pregnancy, although you may have to modify your routine.
What sports should be avoided?
In general, activities in which there is a high risk of falling, such as gymnastics, water skiing, and horseback riding, should be avoided. Some racquet sports also increase the risk of falling because of your changing balance. Other sports to avoid include the following: Downhill snow skiing—Your change in balance may put you at greater risk of injuries and falls. Also, you may be at risk of altitude sickness. Contact sports, such as hockey, basketball, and soccer—These sports can result in harm to you and your baby. Scuba diving—Scuba diving can put your baby at risk of decompression sickness, a serious illness that results from changes in the pressure surrounding the body.
Stop exercising and call your health care provider if you have any of these symptoms: Vaginal bleeding, dizziness or feeling faint, increased shortness of breath, chest pain, headache, muscle weakness, calf pain or swelling, uterine contractions, decreased fetal movement, or fluid leaking from the vagina.
“NO time…” or “Not an athlete”, you say? Good news! The following exercises are likely safe for everyone and simple to incorporate into your busy lives!
“The Magnificent Seven” examples taken from a variety of helpful websites..Enjoy!
- Kegels (yes…before and after the baby!)
- Squats-may do modified as wall squats
- Pelvic tilts
- Child’s pose
- Abdominal exercises: Belly breathing, Rollbacks, Sidelying oblique stretch, Cat-Cow stretches
- Balancing Exercises: Tree Pose, One leg lifts
- Relaxation and Visualization
Heather Knott, RN-IBCLC