When you get pregnant, you’ll find that everyone has an opinion on your body, your baby and your parenting. You’ll receive lots of unsolicited advice and tips from well-meaning mothers on a wide range of topics from co-sleeping to using pacifiers. As the fitness and healthy living trend continues to grow, there’s one pregnancy topic that seems to be getting a lot of attention: Is working out while pregnant safe?
Is Working Out While Pregnant Safe?
While some are worried about how much they are lifting pregnant, I have focused on my technique and my recovery since day 1. Started my preggo fitness journey with @bribattles yesterday. We are focusing on pelvic floor strength for the remaining 8-9 weeks I have and most importantly for postpartum. I’m excited to work with Bri and add this into my daily and weekly routine!! #pelvicfloor #breathingcorrectly #lookatthatbelly #recoversmart #fitmama #babyboy
You should always consult with your physician before making any big decisions regarding you or your baby’s health, but for the most part, the verdict is in: not only is working out during pregnancy safe, it’s encouraged! Staying in shape during pregnancy can help reduce your risk for things like gestational diabetes and can aid in your recovery postpartum. It can also help raise your energy levels (probably hard to believe if you’re still in your first trimester), relieve constipation and overall make your pregnancy an easier and healthier experience.
Your doctor may recommend taking it easy on exercising or sticking to low-impact exercise if you have a pre-existing condition, have a high risk pregnancy or are experiencing complications with your pregnancy.
Your Guide to Exercising While Pregnant
If You Don’t Regularly Exercise…
A lot of people will encourage you to relax or be more sedentary during pregnancy, especially if you’re experiencing fatigue or morning sickness — again with those unsolicited opinions. However, exercise is good for mama and baby, so your physician might encourage you to start taking walks around your neighborhood a few times a week or head down to your local Y for a few relaxing swim sessions.
It’s important to know you don’t have to keep up with anyone else or prove a point. Working out while pregnant should solely be for health benefits instead of losing or maintaining a certain weight or setting new personal records.
If you get bored with walking or swimming, some other low impact exercises you can try while pregnant include indoor cycling, rowing, prenatal yoga, low-impact aerobics, dancing and even light weight training.
Most importantly, you should listen to your body. Avoid getting your heart rate up too high or raising your body temperature to a dangerous level — you should be able to speak while exercising at all times and if you feel abnormally tired, out of breath or “off”, take a break. You know your body and what’s normal for you.
If you don’t workout regularly, pregnancy is not the time to take up a new, high-impact sport such as CrossFit or outdoor cycling. Your balance will be different while you are pregnant, so you should avoid exercises that could cause you to fall such as kickboxing or martial arts. Your ligaments also tend to be loser and more prone to injury during pregnancy, so adding heavy weight lifting to your routine or advanced yoga is probably not a great idea.
If You Do Regularly Exercise…
Most physicians agree that it’s safe to continue exercising at whatever level you’re comfortable at if you’ve already got a significant amount of training under your belt. Although you may have to modify some activities to fit your growing belly, you can keep exercising at the pace you feel comfortable at.
Again, it is important to listen to your body at all times while pregnant. Even if you’re a professional athlete, pregnancy is not the time to set new record times or put up stellar new weight achievements unless you feel comfortable doing so. Watch your heart rate and body temperature closely and always modify your routine if you feel uncertain of the safety of a movement or activity.
As you grow larger and get closer to bringing a new life in to the world, even the most experienced athletes will find that there are some movements they have to modify in order to exercise safely. Some movements to consider changing up or eliminating from your routine include
- Anything that requires laying on your back. This can include sit ups, yoga and other bodyweight exercises. Laying on your back, particularly after you begin your second semester, can cause the baby to block blood flow to and from your heart.
- Push ups and burpees. Obviously your burgeoning belly will make it difficult (and at some point unsafe) for you to perform these movements. There are many different modifications you can try instead.
- Movements with hard impacts. This can include everything from box jumps to surfing to diving. Avoid movements that involve sudden and forceful impacts as they can trigger labor.
- Going upside down. Going upside down for hand stands, aerial yoga or pilates can be dangerous. Pregnancy will affect your balance and blood flow, meaning it’s probably safest to keep both feet on the ground, especially as you get further into your pregnancy.
- Contact sports. I mean, duh.
- Things that can make you fall. It’s up to you (and your doctors and coach) how far you want to take this one. Abdominal trauma is definitely something you want to avoid at all costs while pregnant, but pretty much any exercise will involve a small risk of falling. You can eliminate everything from walking to gymnastic movements, or you can do what you feel safe doing and do so very carefully.