You are pregnant and you want to keep you and your baby safe and healthy. Working out when pregnant can be a scary road to go down full of questions. What is safe? What will help me stay centered and on track while going through all these changes?
Let’s start with the benefits of working out while with child.
- Boost your energy.
Pregnancy can zap your energy! Exercise strengthens your cardiovascular system, so you don’t tire as easily. With muscles that are strong and toned, you need less effort to engage in any activity, whether that means grocery shopping or sitting through meetings at the office.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), you can safely take part in 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise every day, as long as you don’t have a medical condition or complication that your doctor or midwife has told you rules out exercise or limits your activity level.
- Get better sleep.
When you’re carrying an extra 15 pounds (or more!) in front of you, finding a comfortable sleeping position can be a real challenge. Exercise will help you work off any excess energy and tire you enough to lull you into a more restful sleep with less tossing and turning.
- Prepare for child birth.
The better shape you’re in, the stronger you’ll be come labor and delivery time. Giving birth is akin to running a marathon, which requires stamina, determination, and focus. Pre-natal yoga, for example, focuses on many helpful breathing and focusing techniques as well as exercises for the hips and pelvic floor to ease labor pains and help you bounce back faster!
Tips to stay safe during pregnancy exercise.
- Check with your doctor.
What was your routine before? If your pregnancy is uncomplicated, you can most likely continue working out as you did before, with modifications. In some cases it’s not okay to exercise during pregnancy, though, so talk to your doctor or midwife about your fitness routine to make sure your activities don’t put you or your baby at risk. If you didn’t work out much before conceiving, a gentle practice of prenatal yoga or walks around a park are great options.
- Steer clear of dangerous sports
Avoid contact sports and any activities that might throw you off balance such as bike riding.
Even if you’re normally graceful, keep in mind that during pregnancy the increased levels of the hormone relaxin, which relaxes pelvic joints in preparation for childbirth, loosen all ligaments and joints, making you more susceptible to sprains and injury from falls.
- Don’t lie flat on your back.
Avoid lying flat on your back after the first trimester. This position puts pressure on a major vein called the vena cava, which will reduce blood to your heart and may diminish blood flow to your brain and uterus, making you dizzy, short of breath, or nauseated. During yoga in final relaxation be sure to rest on your side in a fetal position. Also placing a pillow under your right hip or buttock will allow you to be almost supine without compressing the vena cava.
- Take in extra calories.
Working out burns calories. The amount you’ll need to consume will vary based on your pre-pregnancy weight. If your body mass index (BMI) is in a healthy range (between 18.5 and 24.9), you’ll need to eat 300 or so more calories a day than before you were pregnant – and probably more than that if you’re exercising. If you’re underweight or overweight you may need to gain a little more or a little less than someone with a healthy BMI and adjust your calories accordingly.
- Make it a habit.
Your wellbeing and state of mind is very important to a successful and thriving pregnancy. Keeping up a routine is easier on your body than long periods of inertia interrupted by spurts of activity. Commit to a class that is held at the same time every week or schedule a walk date with a friend to catch up but keep moving. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, you can safely engage in 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise on most, if not all, days of the week as long as you have your healthcare provider’s go-ahead.
Working out While Pregnant