Pregnancy is a beautiful time, where it’s your turn to sit back, relax, and be pampered a bit as your baby grows.
But while relaxation and pampering should definitely be on the cards for anyone who’s expecting, it can also be hugely beneficial to partake in some low-impact exercising.
In fact, maintaining a regular exercise routine throughout the pregnancy is a fantastic way to help both mom and baby stay healthy and feel their best. It can also help decrease some common pregnancy-related discomfort such as backache and fatigue, help prepare the body for labor and delivery, and improve your posture as you’re carrying extra weight.
If you’re concerned about whether your current exercise routine is suitable for you during your pregnancy, it’s vital to consult your doctor and be sure to listen to your body for any signs that you might be pushing a little too hard.
Benefits of working out during pregnancy
Naturally, when you’re pregnant, you want to be doing everything you can to ensure your baby’s safety and health. But while some workouts might be off the cards, it’s actually highly advised that you do exercise while pregnant.
The benefits of exercising (safely!) during pregnancy are wide-ranging. Some of the most significant benefits can include:
- Reduces backache and improves posture.
- Reduces constipation, bloating, and swelling.
- Exercise can act as a mood regulator, improving your mood and energy levels.
- Helps you sleep more peacefully and for longer.
- Can prevent excess weight gain during pregnancy.
- Promotes muscle tone, strength, and endurance.
- Reduces the risk of gestational diabetes.
- In some instances, regular exercise has been linked to shorter labor.
- Reduces the likelihood of a C-section being required.
As you can see, exercising when you’re pregnant can not only help your overall health and mood, but it can even be beneficial for the labor and delivery of your baby.
Not only is exercise during pregnancy great for mom, but it’s also been shown that the baby can also benefit from a fitter heart, lower BMI, and improved brain health!
Who shouldn’t work out during pregnancy?
Although there are loads of benefits to working out during pregnancy (for both mom and baby), there are a few situations when exercise might not be advisable.
You should be cautious of exercise if you have:
- Heart or lung disease.
- Preeclampsia or high blood pressure (particularly if this developed for the first time during your pregnancy).
- Cervical problems.
- Vaginal bleeding or spotting (particularly during the second and third trimester)
- Any problems with the placenta or a low placenta.
- A premature rupture of the membranes.
- Severe anemia.
- History or risk of premature births or early labor.
- A weak cervix.
If you have any of the above conditions or history, you must consult your doctor before starting any exercise routine. You may still be able to partake in some physical exercise, and your doctor will be able to provide additional guidance on what is/isn’t safe for you and your baby.
Please remember, this is not an exhaustive list, and you should always err on the side of caution when it comes to exercising while pregnant.
How can I exercise safely while pregnant?
For most pregnancies, a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity daily exercise is recommended. For beginner exercisers, short walks are excellent aerobic exercises with minimum joint stress. Swimming is also commonly cited as a fantastic workout for expectant mothers.
If you usually enjoy strength training, you can also continue with your usual workout, although it might be advisable to reduce the weight or resistance you’re working with. A good set of resistance bands (like these ones from Victorem) are fantastic for pregnancy as it’s easy to drop the resistance as needed and can also aid in flexibility exercises (which can be tricky when your pregnant belly keeps getting in the way!).
Naturally, it’s best to avoid any high-impact sports or extreme sports while pregnant (sorry, hockey and kickboxing fans!). Activities that involve heat (for example, hot yoga or Pilates) are also not advisable for pregnancy.
Although everyone knows they should warm up, stretch, and cool down as part of their workout, this is particularly vital during pregnancy. It’s also crucial to drink lots of fluids throughout your workout and be careful of overheating.
If you haven’t exercised for a while, it’s a good idea to start with just 10 minutes of physical exercise per day. You can then slowly build this up in 5-minute intervals until you’re getting the recommended 30 minutes of daily activity.
If you are a regular exerciser, then it’s likely pregnancy won’t prevent you from maintaining your standard workout routine. You might wish to reduce any weights you usually work with and be careful not to overextend yourself.
If you have any concerns about excising while pregnant, always speak to your doctor.