Exercise during pregnancy is a topic that can be confusing. It doesn’t have to be. Here are some tips to keep you and your baby safe.
- Get your doctor’s permission before starting an exercise program. This is always a good thing to do, but is especially important during your pregnancy.
- Even if you did not exercise before you were pregnant, it is not too late. As long as you have completed the first step of getting your doctor’s permission, you can begin an exercise program during pregnancy. Begin by walking or doing simple exercises. Finding a class that specializes in pre-natal fitness is also a great idea. Not only will you get a workout, but you will be surrounded by other moms-to-be.
- During pregnancy, your goal is to maintain, not train. Your pregnancy is not a time to reach for higher goals—save the marathon training until after the baby.
- Listen to your body. In the past, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) recommended women not allow their heart rate to increase over 140 bpm. The guidelines have changed. The new recommendations reinforce women listening to their bodies. The guidelines state that on a scale of 1 to 10, you should be working at a maximum of 5 to 7. This is called the Rate of Perceived Exhaustion, and at 5 to 7 you should be able to still speak in sentences even though you are getting breathless. If you get to the point where you can only respond with one word, you are working too hard.
- Remember, some days are better than others. Sometimes a workout may seem effortless, but other days the same workout will feel tough. Listen to your body and do what feels right.
- It is very important that you don’t stop. Research shows that women who exercise throughout the first part of their pregnancy but stop at 36 weeks, end up gaining more weight than those who did not exercise at all during pregnancy. Even though that last month can be very uncomfortable, keep moving. Walking, swimming, elliptical are all great choices.
- Did you know that some of the benefits of exercising during pregnancy include lower chance of gestational diabetes, less discomfort, easier labor, faster post-natal weight loss, and less chance of depression?
Make sure you are aware of the warning signs that you should stop exercising (according to ACOG). Stop exercising and call your doctor if you experience:
- Vaginal bleeding
- Dizziness or feeling faint
- Increased shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Muscle weakness
- Calf pain or swelling
- Uterine contractions
- Decreased fetal movement
- Fluid leaking from vagina
The bottom line is, if you are pregnant, keep exercising. Make sure you check with your doctor first, listen to your body, and your baby will thank you for it!