It’s hard to believe there was a time when women were told not to exercise in pregnancy. Not only were women told not to exercise, but in the 1940s pregnant women were told to avoid watching sports or reading as both could cause too much excitement.
In the 1950s pregnant women were told to eat less to avoid a stomach bulge, and to smoke cigarettes to relax.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
Thankfully those days are gone!
However, some of the myths and fears around exercise in pregnancy still exist. The most common fear is that exercise can hurt the baby. Health care and fitness professionals will assure you that exercise is an important part of a complete pregnancy and birth plan.!
Most mothers identify with the term, “the marathon of labor and delivery.”
A woman’s body goes through similar stresses during labor and delivery as with other athletic events. Therefore it is important to train and prepare, not just for labor and delivery, but for all the changes one’s body encounters throughout the pregnancy.
Including a smart exercise program in your birth and pregnancy plan strengthens and supports your muscles, bones, connective tissue, and nervous and organ systems.
Exercise reduces stress, anxiety, nausea, sleep problems, and exhaustion. It makes for easier labor and quicker recovery postpartum, and enhances overall mood and well being. When a pregnant woman feels healthy and happy, so does her growing baby.
It is important to check in with your health care provider for clearance with any exercise program especially during pregnancy.
Some doctors may not know what exercises to recommend which is where qualified fitness professionals come into the picture.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists or ACOG recommends 30 minutes of moderate activity most days of the week, and states, “If you are active, pregnancy need not cause you to alter your fitness routine. If you have not been active, now is a good time to start.” If you are pregnant, you may be wondering what you can do that is safe and supportive.
Some great activities to choose from include:
Some basic rules are:
Schedule your workout like any other appointment. You are more likely to do it.
Wear comfortable, supportive clothing and footwear.
• a good support bra is your best friend
• invest in proper runners/sneakers/trainers
Hydrate before, during, and after your workout.
• drink 8 oz of water 20 minutes prior
• take a gulp of water (which is 1 oz) every couple of minutes during
• drink 8 oz of water after
Eat something approximately one hour to thirty minutes prior to your workout.
Include a proper warmup and cool down period of 5-10 minutes.
Listen to your body throughout as it will tell you everything. If something doesn’t feel comfortable, don’t do it.
When structuring your workout, choose something that is fun and enjoyable. Warm up for 5-10 minutes and stay within a safe range of motion and intensity throughout your workout. Cool down at the end for 5-10 minutes and stretch within a safe range.
Each week it is important to mix cardiovascular activity – walking, running (yes, running is safe if the pregnancy is normal,) swimming, cycling, with resistance training – weights, bands, bodyweight, and mind/body training – MELT, Pilates, yoga, for a balanced program
If you’re a beginner exerciser, start with a 5-10 minute warm up and 5 minutes of activity, increasing the activity by 5 minutes each week until you are able to maintain 30 minutes of continuous exercise most days of the week.
Taking a group fitness class with other pregnant women is a great way to build a support system, ask questions, and share advice and information.
If you’re attending a class with the general population, be sure to tell the instructor so they can help you modify certain exercises.
In terms of intensity when working out, the “talk test” is always the best gauge. If you’re able to carry on a conversation while exercising, you’re working at a safe intensity.
Things to avoid when pregnant:
Do not exercise on your back after 16 weeks for longer than 3-5 minutes.
• modify the position with blankets, pillows, a bolster, or something to elevate your upper back. If there is an exercise that requires you to be on your back, make sure to change the position after 3-5 minutes.
To protect you and your baby, avoid contact sports and sports that could cause falling.
Because of the hormone relaxin, avoid over stretching your muscles.
• stay within a safe range for yoga and any other flexibility training.
Avoid sports or activities that require jumping or quick changes in direction.! • the hormone relaxin makes the joints less stable and able to offer support
Stay away from exercising in extreme heat and/or humidity
• overheating will put you and your baby at risk.
Stop any workout when you experience:
• Dizziness or faintness
• Shortness of breath
• Chest pains
• Uterine contraction
• Vaginal bleeding or abnormal discharge
• Heart palpitations
The most important thing to remember is to have fun.
Wishing you all good things!