Though you may not feel like running a marathon, many women benefit from exercising during their pregnancies. Early in the pregnancy, you should talk with your doctor or health advisor about starting/continuing an exercise routine. The amount of exercise recommended depends largely on your pre-pregnancy condition and be prepared to make adjustments to your routine throughout the pregnancy.
Exercise not only benefits you, but also the baby. A weekly exercise routine can help you feel better by toning muscles, reduce back aches, reduce constipation, and help you sleep better at night by reducing stress. Exercising not only helps you return to your pre-pregnancy weight, but also prepares your body for birth. Strong muscles and a good heart have been proven to greatly ease pain and delivery (so they say). And just in case you have a lengthy labor, good endurance will help. Studies have also shown that exercise reduces complications like preeclamsia and gestational diabetes.
Now I’m not saying that if you exercise you definitely won’t experience any of these challenges. I exercised prior, throughout, and post pregnancy and still struggle with high blood pressure. We can’t change our genetics, but we can help to minimize complications and challenges that may come our way.
Since I was labeled as being in good health condition, my doctor gave me the go ahead to continue my normal exercise routine. I recommend that if you don’t have any restrictions from your health advisor continue your routine, but listen to your body.
Suggestions for following an exercise routine:
- If you are tired or it hurts…stop. Give yourself a break…you are pregnant!
- At the gym, lower the weight if you have any pain or anything feels uncomfortable.
- Wear a belly band for extra back support…it worked wonders for me!
- If you experience dizziness, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, or pain in your back or pelvis than stop.
- Avoid activities that require bouncing, jarring, leaping, or sudden change of direction.
- Just keep moving…every little bit counts!
My well rounded exercise routine during pregnancy:
- Went to the gym 3 times a week.
- Always used a cardio machine, but instead of 20 minutes I did either 10 or 15 minutes. If you have high blood pressure, make sure that your heart rate doesn't go above 140.
- Weights for upper and lower body. As I advanced through my pregnancy I decreased the weight to make it more comfortable. I discontinued my abdominal workout around 5 ½ months because it was uncomfortable. It is also recommended that at 5 months not do anything that requires you to be flat on your back.
- Stopped mountain biking around 6 months because it was uncomfortable.
- I walked almost everyday…it’s so easy to do this!
- I returned to the gym about 2 months post-partum with the same routine I was doing when I left and built it back up.
- Almost immediately after having the baby you can start walking and doing Kegal exercises. I also bought an exercise ball for the days I couldn’t make it to the gym…at least I still got a little workout at home.
Warnings signs to check with your doctor:
- Vaginal bleeding
- Unusual pain
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Unusual shortness of breath
- Racing heartbeat or chest pain
- Fluid leaking from your vagina
- Uterine contractions
Wondering how to get started here are some ideas:
- Start gradually. Even 5 minutes a day is a good start if you've been inactive. Add 5 minutes each week until you reach 30 minutes.
- Dress comfortably in loose-fitting clothes and wear a supportive bra.
- Drink plenty of water to avoid overheating and dehydration.
- Skip your exercises if you're sick.
- Go for a walk in an air-conditioned mall on hot, humid days.
- Remember to listen to your body and have fun!