The Dos and Don’ts of Exercise During Pregnancy
Being pregnant is hard work. You’re tired all the time, your feet are swollen two sizes too big, and any smell could send you running to the bathroom at the drop of a hat.
With all the physical unpleasantness, the last thing you’re probably thinking of is working out. But not only can you work out till the day you give birth, exercise will also help with some of the more negative side effects of pregnancy.
That doesn’t mean you can go full-throttle, however. So, how can you get your steps in without passing out? Find out below!
1. Ask your doctor
Before starting any exercise regime, you should always consult your doctor. This goes double for women who are pregnant. Only your physician can let you know if you are fit for exercise, so make an appointment as soon as you decide to start hitting the gym. You can also consult the list provided by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist to educate yourself on potential complications that could arise from physical activity.
2. Warm up, cool down
Warm-ups will ease you into your full workout and prevent early fatigue. Cool-downs will ensure that your body and your growing baby get adequate oxygen intake after a challenging workout. Skipping these important steps will only make the workouts more difficult than needed, and you’re less likely to return to the routine if you’re left heaving and red-faced afterward.
3. Keep strength training
We’re not asking you to bulk up with a baby on the way. But building muscle can mean an easier pregnancy, especially with certain muscle groups. You may have heard the myth that you should work out your core while pregnant; however, the exact opposite is true! A strong core will prevent lower back pain caused by a growing belly, and it’ll make the labor and recovery process faster and easier.
4. Lower the intensity
If you’re used to vigorous exercise, you’ll have to tone it down a little bit, especially during the last trimester. The goal here is to stay fit, not lose fat or lift your max weight. Attempting these personal bests during pregnancy endangers both you and your child, so keep it light!
5. Keep hydrated
Be sure to drink plenty of water during, before, and after your workout, and keep your electrolytes up with low-sugar sports drinks if you get particularly sweaty during exercise.
6. Eat nutritious foods
You might hear the common phrase “eating for two,” but really, you should be focusing on nutrients for two. Make sure your diet consists of a good mix of whole grains, essential fatty acids, fruits and veggies, and protein. On the other hand, cut out high-sugar snacks, caffeine, alcohol, sushi, and any raw meat or eggs.
1. Don’t lie on your back
After the first trimester, lying on your back could restrict blood flow from the growing uterus. If you do find yourself in this position, and you experience dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath, or any other negative symptoms, simply roll over onto the left side.
2. Don’t overdo it
Whatever exercises you decide on, never make yourself overtired. Listen to your body. Simply put, you want to be able to speak a full sentence without running out of breath.
3. Don’t exercise if you experience dizziness, fluid leakage, bleeding, and/or contractions
Immediately stop exercising if you feel that there’s something wrong. Additionally, if you experience regular contractions for 30 minutes, call your doctor, as this is a sign of pre-term labor.
4. Don’t make rapid changes in direction
You can easily stumble and fall if you change direction too fast. This is because your center of gravity is shifting as your pregnancy progresses, and as these changes take place, your balance reduces more an
5. Don’t engage in contact sports or high-intensity exercises
Activities like running, boxing, karate, Pilates, and soccer need to be saved for after you’ve recovered from your delivery. They’re simply too strenuous and could lead to miscarriage, damage to the fetus, or preterm labor.
Taking care during exercise will allow you to take advantage of some great benefits for both mother and baby. Whether you’ve never exercised in your life, or you’re a professional athlete, it will take a moment to adjust to these restrictions. But once you’re in-tune with your body’s miraculous changes, you’ll quickly become accustomed to the changes in your workout. Good luck!