Maintaining your level of fitness during pregnancy is important because it provides many health benefits for both you and your baby. When coming up with a safe exercise plan during pregnancy, consider when you start, and whether you pregnancy is complicated.
If you have been exercising regularly before you got pregnant, you can continue your routine. But if you haven’t, it’s not too late. Start slowly and progress steadily as you grow stronger.
The US Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week for healthy women who are not yet highly active or doing vigorous-intensity activity.
If you are healthy, the risks of moderate-intensity activity during pregnancy are very low and do not increase your risk of low birth weight, preterm delivery, or early pregnancy loss.
But before you continue your old routine or start a new one, talk to your doctor about exercising during pregnancy.
You may have to limit your workout if you have any of the following:
- Pregnancy-induced high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia
- Early contraction
- Vaginal bleeding
- Premature rupture of your membranes (breaking your water early)
Exercises you can try
The kind of exercise you take up depends on your interests and your doctor’s recommendations. A lot of women enjoy dancing, swimming, water aerobics, Pilates, biking, or walking. Many pregnant women find swimming especially appealing because it gives you welcome buoyancy. Try a routine that mixes cardio [aerobics], strength training, and flexibility exercises. Avoid bouncing.
Many experts recommend walking because it is easy to perform. Beginners will have no problem with it. For women who exercised before becoming pregnant, walking can also be a good form of exercise. It is easy to change your pace and intensity, add hills and distance. Start with a moderately brisk pace for about a mile, 3 times a week.
Add a few minutes each week and pick up your pace a bit. Add hills to your route eventually. Start slowly for the first 5 minutes warm up, and use the last 5 to cool down. If you were a runner before you got pregnant, you still continue running during your pregnancy, but you might have to alter your routine and make it safer for you and your baby.
Listen to your body
Whatever exercise you and your doctor decide on, remember to listen to your body and heed its warning signs. Many women feel dizzy early in their pregnancy and their center of gravity changes as the baby grows. This might make it easier for you to lose your balance, especially during the last trimester.
Your energy level also changes from day to day. As your baby grows and pushes up your lungs, you might find it a little difficult to breathe in more air when you exercise. Here are a few signs that say you have to stop:
- Heart palpitations
- Shortness of breath
- Pain in your back or pelvis
- If you can’t speak while you’re exercising, it means you are going at it too vigorously.
Remember to avoid being overheated since temperatures over 102.6° Fahrenheit (39° Celsius) could cause problems for your developing baby, particularly during the first trimester – which could cause birth defects.
Avoid exercising outside during the hottest part of the day, and do not overexert during hot days. Also, do not forget that swimming might make it hard for you to notice your body’s rising temperature because the water makes you feel cooler.