Inactivity during pregnancy leads to unnecessary weight gain, high blood pressure, additional aches and pains, as well as a higher risk of C-section and gestational diabetes. Walking for as little as 30 to 60 minutes per day at a moderate pace can prevent these complications. Walking is free, and you can do it anywhere— no gym membership necessary! It may also rejuvenate your low energy and help with constipation. Exercise even makes it easier for you to get back to your pre-pregnancy figure after delivery, so what are you waiting for?
Low to moderate intensity strength training is safe, even if you do not normally work out. However, intense weight training can increase blood pressure, so it is important to keep lifting intensity moderate and to stop at the first sign of dizziness. Because the hormone relaxin is released during pregnancy, your joints experience increased lubrication and your risk of injury is heightened. Avoid extreme movements like lunges and squats. Lighter weights with increased reps are ideal, rather than overexerting yourself with heavy weighted exercises. Muscle building exercises will help to ease back pain, make labor and delivery easier, and help your body bounce back after delivery.
Already Have a Routine?
If athletic, check with your doctor, but it is most likely safe to continue the exercise program you are on. Medical supervision is recommended. Stay hydrated and avoid extreme climates, especially heat. Always be sure to stay at a pace where you can talk comfortably.
Strengthen the Core
Doing exercises while lying on your back is a no-no. Your growing uterus can compress the vena cava, the major vessel that returns blood to your heart, potentially reducing blood flow and making you feel dizzy or nauseated. Yet, strengthening the core can be extremely helpful during labor. Upright abdominal exercises like standing pelvic tilts, seated belly breathing, seated knee lifts, and simply tightening and releasing your abs are all good ways to strengthen the core without having to get on your back. Sitting on an exercise ball strengthens the core and back muscles as well. Sit tall and allow your pelvic floor to relax— this will help greatly during labor.
Keep it Moderate
During exercise, blood travels away from the internal organs and toward the muscles, lungs, and heart to provide oxygen. By engaging in intense exercise, you can reduce blood flow and consequently oxygen from the uterus and your baby. It is crucial to not exceed moderate exercise.
Spice it Up!
Many popular fitness classes now offer choices specifically geared toward pregnant women. These can help you to familiarize yourself with movements that are good for your pregnant body as well as moves to avoid. It also helps to keep your workout from getting boring. Prenatal yoga and Pilates are both very popular. Zumba, Soulcycle, and the Barre method also offer prenatal classes if you’d like to spice it up!
Kegels are a small exercise which help to keep your pelvic floor muscles strong during pregnancy. Weak pelvic floor muscles contribute to urinary incontinence after pregnancy, which affects 70% of women. Stopping the flow of urine is what best describes a kegel exercise. By squeezing and holding those same vaginal muscles, you are strengthening that pelvic floor. Contract these muscles 20 times at 10 second intervals, 5 times a day.
When to Call the Doc
Warning signs to stop exercising and contact a doctor:
- vaginal bleeding
- fluid leaking from the vagina
- decreased fetal movement
- uterine contractions
- muscle weakness
- calf swelling or pain
- chest pain
- increased shortness of breath
- dizziness, or feeling faint
Awesome post-gym endorphins keep your mood and energy up, helping you combat sluggishness, and eliminate sleeping troubles. Plus, regular sweat sessions build your strength for delivery and ease back pain. Incorporating a safe exercise routine during pregnancy is highly recommended.