Although the idea that pregnant women are “delicate” and should rest as much as possible has been debunked, many women hesitate to engage in their normal routines. They don’t want to risk any problems from pushing themselves too far, however, gentle exercise is recommended by many health professionals. How much and what types of exercise are okay during pregnancy?
Exercise is generally agreed to be very good for both the pregnant woman and the developing fetus. Exercise can decrease back pain and fatigue, relieve stress and make the birth process easier. Exercise may also help prevent gestational diabetes and other common pregnancy complications.
According to The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, it’s best to exercise around 30 minutes a day while pregnant. Some women may be able to do more if they are very active before getting pregnant, and others may not be able to do as much if they have certain health risks. Talk to your doctor about how much exercise you can safely do while pregnant, says Dr. Gilbert W. Webb Mercy.net.
Never exercised before
Women who were not participating in a regular program of exercise prior to getting pregnant are urged to start now. For these women, gentle, low-impact types of exercise are best. Walking is one of the safest, most accessible forms of exercise. Yoga is another excellent exercise for pregnancy. Gentle forms of yoga such as prenatal yoga or restorative yoga are wonderful for the pregnant woman. Yoga improves core strength, relieves stress and can even relieve nausea in some pregnant women.
Women who were regularly exercising before pregnancy are urged to continue doing so, but they may need to modify their routines. Exercises such as swimming, stationary bicycling and low-impact aerobics are excellent for pregnant women. Women who have been practicing yoga regularly can usually continue doing so with a few modifications. Higher-impact exercises such as jogging and tennis can be safely done during pregnancy with care, but later in the course of the pregnancy the balance and coordination of the mother may be affected to such a degree that these activities become difficult to perform. Taking up gentle forms of yoga during the final months of pregnancy may be a good idea for even the fittest of athletes.
What to avoid
Exercises that have a high fall risk, such as skiing, should definitely be avoided during pregnancy. Contact sports such as rugby should also be avoided. High-impact bouncing and jumping are not a good idea. Yoga moves that involve deep twisting should be skipped or modified. Belly-down spine strengthening poses should be avoided after the first trimester.
Exercising gently throughout pregnancy has many health benefits. After delivery, most new mothers can gradually resume their normal exercise routine after a week or two. It’s important to listen to your body during this time and not push yourself too hard.