Exercising during pregnancy is a fantastic way to prepare for labor and delivery, while helping to relieve discomfort that can come with pregnancy. The benefits that come with exercise are nearly endless, from stress reduction to alleviation of aches and bloating, as a sleep aid and a source of energy. It can also help in decreasing the risk of gestational diabetes, as well as controlling it the condition if you’ve already been diagnosed. Exercising regularly also helps to speed up recovery time post-childbirth.
In 2015, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said that women (without medical or obstetric complications) should be getting at least 20 to 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week.
To start exercising to stay in shape, or to just get moving around a bit each day, consider these recommendations to keep you and the baby safe:
Always consult your doctor first
Together with your doctor, you can come up with a plan suited best for you based on prior activities and current abilities with your goals and health in mind. Some exercises to ask about? Walking, swimming, stationary biking, low-impact aerobics, yoga and strength training exercises are all great options for working out during pregnancy. Avoid exercise that requires a lot of balance and coordination especially as you get into your second and third trimesters.
It’s important to drink before, during and after your workout. Failing to do so can lead to dehydration, which may cause a multitude of issues for you and the baby. On average, you should be drinking eight ounces of fluids six to eight times a day. These fluids should not include caffeine or tea, as they actually can dehydrate you. Stick to water, fruits, vegetables and soups.
Warm up & cool down
Jumping into a physical activity without a proper warm up can lead to strains and pulls. You don’t want this, especially while pregnant. Stretching and warming up can help increase your heart rate and gets blood flowing to the muscles you’ll be using while working out.
Similarly, be sure to cool down after each workout. This will help improve flexibility and return your body back to its normal heart rate. In addition, it also helps to prevent having sore muscles – something you’ll be extra grateful for when you’re carrying a baby.
Don’t go crazy
Remember, you’re having a baby so you don’t need to show off, or beat the speed you ran this time last year, or push yourself to the point of being out of breath. Listen to your body. It will let you know when it needs to stop or is getting tired. Accomplish what you can and appreciate the little victories.
Treat every trimester differently
You are an evolving creature now that your baby is growing rapidly inside you. What you could do in the first trimester might feel impossible in the third. Don’t compare the trimesters because it’s like comparing apples to watermelons. You have to figure out your body’s capabilities and make adjustments as needed.
Wear clothing that doesn’t constrict and shoes that support your movement. Be aware of the weather and dress accordingly for maximum comfort and safety. Be smart about the weather, your workout clothing and what your body is capable of.
Lastly – and potentially most importantly – pay attention to any potential red-flag symptoms you may experience during exercise. If you experience any bleeding, swelling, dizziness, headaches, chest pain, muscle weakness or unusual shortness of breath, stop immediately and contact your doctor. For any other questions about exercising while expecting, please feel free to contact us or speak to your doctor.