Congratulations! You’re pregnant! The good news is your baby is growing inside your uterus and no amount of normal exercise is going to change that. In fact, especially for those who have a practice of regular exercise, be it running, yoga, biking, swimming or even strength training, maintaining your regular workouts for the duration of your normal pregnancy is usually just fine. Exercise plays a key role in a healthy pregnancy.
Your doctor may ask you to make a few tweaks here and there but according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) if you are healthy and experiencing a normal pregnancy its safe and even encouraged to maintain or begin a regular exercise routine. ACOG agrees that physical activity does not, in any way, increase your risk of miscarriage, preterm birth or low birth rate. As long as you’ve discussed your plans with your doctor, there’s no reason to halt your workouts.
How Exercise Helps You During Your Pregnancy
You already know exercise during your pregnancy helps you maintain a healthy lifestyle. There are also considerable benefits to both you and your baby. Some of these benefits are:
- Lowers your risk for gestational diabetes and the complications that go with it.
- Reduces your risk of preeclampsia.
- May decrease your risk for a c-section delivery.
- Reduces back pain.
- Helps you maintain your balance as your baby grows and your center of gravity changes.
- Eases constipation.
- Strengthens your heart and improves circulation.
- Helps you develop stamina and endurance, which come in handy when parenting!
- Helps you lose those pregnancy pounds after baby arrives.
- Eases the stress of pregnancy and even helps while undergoing fertility treatment.
How Much Exercise is Enough During Pregnancy?
Pregnant women would get about 150 minutes of exercise per week, which breaks down to 30 minutes five days each week. The best form of exercise is moderate aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, jogging or running at a low pace, swimming, dancing or even a low-impact fitness class for pregnant individuals. Strength training is an excellent activity as long as your doctor approves (There are limits to how much you can lift!). Moderate exercise is defined as any activity that moves your large muscles (arms and legs) and raises your heart rate; you can talk but singing is difficult.
Those who are new to working out should increase gradually from 5-10 minutes of activity a few times a day to the recommended 150 minutes per week. Those who were more active than moderate (distance runners or competitive athletes) need doctor’s approval before resuming vigorous activity.
Always be mindful of your joints. The hormones you make during pregnancy relax the ligaments that support your joints. This makes your joints more prone to injury from any high-impact activity. Remember your balance is also affected as your pregnancy grows. Watch your step and don’t participate in any activities where falling is possible. Your body needs more oxygen when you’re pregnant so you can’t go as hard as you may have before.
These Six Exercises Will Help You Keep in Shape During Your Pregnancy
There are some exercises that are ill-advised later in pregnancy. Usually, that’s due to the changes in your center of gravity, circulation and you may simply not have the energy (growing a human is hard work!). But these six exercises are just fine, with your doctor’s approval, to practice in all three trimesters.
The top picks for cardio during pregnancy are walking, easy jogging, swimming, and stationary bicycling. Any cardiovascular activity is excellent for heart health, circulation, blood pressure and lowers your risk for diabetes. If you’re used to a more strenuous cardio workout talk to your doctor if you wish to continue your normal routine.
The following strength training exercises keep you fit, strong and limber. Perform 10-15 reps then repeat with a 1-minute rest in between.
Squats are an excellent exercise during pregnancy. This move is completely safe and strengthens your lower body which helps during labor.
Step into a wide stance. Keeping your back straight bend at your knees and lower your bottom (as if you’re about to sit down). Keep your knees aligned with your ankles (as your size increases you may need a mirror to check that you’re doing this exercise correctly) and push up through your heels as you rise back up.
Most pregnant individuals experience back pain later in pregnancy. In order to minimize the risk of back pain you should work on strengthening your back muscles. This exercise helps tremendously. Use light weights, 3 lbs. to 15 lbs., depending on what you’re used to and what your doctor advises.
Place your arm on a sturdy piece of furniture or a countertop that aligns with the height of your hips. Tighten your core and straighten your back. Lean forward and, using your free hand, lift a hand weight or dumbbell up alongside your body, keeping the weight close to your side. After your desired number of reps change to the other arm.
You’ve no doubt heard it before; babies require a lot of gear anytime you go anywhere. This exercise helps strengthen your biceps, so you can tote baby and gear like a boss!
Begin with feet planted firmly and with a weight in each hand and your arms at your side. Keeping your arms close at your sides lift the weights up to your shoulders as you flex your bicep muscle. Now slowly lower the weights in a controlled motion.
The shoulder press is another way to strengthen your arm muscles and also helps your upper back. And you can perform a shoulder press from a seated position if you need to.
Begin with arms raised to shoulder height, bent at the elbows and a weight in each hand. Your hands should be about ear level. Now push the weights up above your head. They should nearly be touching each other. Now slowly lower the weights to starting position in a controlled motion.
A strong core gives you so many advantages; it helps maintain a strong back (less back pain) and may help in the delivery room as well. As your pregnancy grows, it might prove difficult to perform a traditional plank. You can always modify to a side plank.
Being face down while balancing on your forearms and feet. Create a straight line from head to toe without raising your bottom. Hold your core tight and try to maintain for 20 seconds (or as long as you can hold the pose). Gradually increase your hold time to one minute by adding a few seconds when you feel capable.
- Never exercise during pregnancy without your doctor’s approval.
- Always stay hydrated and don’t push yourself too hard. You don’t want to risk injury.
- If you feel any pain while working out, halt your activity and reach out to your doctor.
A happy and healthy pregnancy is a major goal of parents-to-be. Exercise helps you achieve that goal. For more information on staying fit during pregnancy, or any fertility concerns, contact LA IVF.