Women typically feel empowered once they learn they’re pregnant, but they can also feel incredibly vulnerable. This is especially true if pregnancy didn’t come easy (you’ve tried for months/years or used fertility treatments) or those who’ve experienced miscarriage in the past. As a result, many pregnant women shy away from exercise because they’re afraid it might hurt their baby.
On the flip side, women who are extreme athletes find themselves on the opposing end of the spectrum. For them, pregnancy may mean the need to curtail their normal exercise schedule in lieu of more moderate or less impactful exercises to keep their developing babies safe.
OB-Approved Exercises Are Safe for You & Baby
Hopefully, you’re already scheduled or attended prenatal appointments with your OB. If not, now’s the time to schedule an appointment and discuss your pregnancy exercise concerns.
As a trusted physician and labor/delivery care provider, s/he is the one who knows your medical and reproductive history through and through. S/he’ll be able to evaluate the types of exercises you’re considering and give you a yay or nay.
Are You New to Exercising?
If you haven’t been much of an exerciser to date, this is actually a wonderful time to dedicate yourself to the cause. Besides the overall health benefits of exercise, not to mention its roll in weight management, pregnant women who exercise an average of 30-minutes a day tend to experience:
- Healthier sleep patterns
- Reduced morning sickness
- Better circulation and stress management
- Better strength, balance and stamina (comes in handy in the labor and delivery room!)
- Prevents and relieves constipation
- Reduces back aches and other aches/discomforts associated with pregnancy
- Enhances energy levels and mood
- Reduces the risk of gestational diabetes and overweight newborns
Read, Eight Great Benefits of Pregnancy Exercise, to learn more
Aim for Low-Impact, Moderate Forms of Exercise
Extreme exercise that truly taxes, rather than nourishes, the body or that is too jarring to the baby is dangerous. Therefore, upon physician approval, pregnancy women should aim to spend at least 30 minutes per day of low-impact, moderate forms of exercise. It’s also best to stick to the same types (or similar exercise levels) as you were used to in your pre-pregnancy state.
So, if you aren’t a jogger, now is not the best time to start jogging, but it is a wonderful time to begin walking or casual hiking, which you can scale up as your body adjusts.
Examples of low-impact, moderate forms of exercise for pregnancy women include:
- Water aerobics or water exercise classes (let your instructor know you’re pregnant)
- Jogging (if you were already a jogger, but listen to your body and transition to fast walking when joints, lower back, or belly discomfort signals it’s time to slow down)
- Biking (this may shift for you as your belly grows and your center of gravity shifts, but it’s a great form of exercise in those first five or six months…and longer if you feel good about it and your physician approves)
- Prenatal yoga
- Low-impact aerobics, zumba, etc.
- Dance parties with yourself or another to your favorite songs
Again, any form of exercise should be approved by your OB and always, always, always listen to your body. It is wise and it always knows best.
Avoid Extreme Impact or Higher-Risk Sports
Typically, your physician isn’t going to approve of any sports or exercise activities that are above the moderate impact level or that put your body/belly at risk for falls, blunt force, etc. If you ride horses, we understand that casual riding is perfectly safe – but jumping, extreme trail rides, etc. may have to take a sideline for now.
- Scale your exercise routine down a bit if you currently:
- Run marathons/triathlons
- Are a climber
- Do extreme cycling
- Play an impact sport
- Participate in a form of exercise that is extremely strict about weight or dietary intake
We understand that extreme athletes struggle with this and that nine months can feel like forever. We assure you that it will go by faster than you think. Once the baby is born, you’ll have the opportunity to build yourself back up. Read, How Elite Athletes Come Back After Childbirth and be inspired!
The team at OB/GYN Associates of Spokane is here for you. Give us a call at 509-455-8866, or schedule an appointment online, and we’ll work with you to find an exercise schedule that honors your need to move while keeping you and baby as safe as possible.