Most pregnant women do not get enough exercise because they are afraid to hurt their unborn baby. The truth is that exercising during pregnancy has many benefits for you and your little one. Pregnancy shouldn't be an excuse to stop exercising, and there are many rumors surrounding this subject. Here is a list of what's safe and what's not during the special time of pregnancy.
Walking, swimming, dancing, aerobics, aqua sports, and even jogging are considered safe activities during pregnancy. But before your start any routine, you must consult your doctor first. In general, for normal and uncomplicated pregnancies, light cardio is perfectly safe, even if you weren’t active before. On the other hand, marathons are not a good idea (even in the first trimester) regardless if you're used to running or not. Jogging on a treadmill is safe; however, don't go too fast or push yourself to the limit. As for cycling, during your second and third trimester, your balance could be affected because of the change in your belly size and the alteration in your center of gravity. So overall, it's preferable to stick to static bikes and avoid exercises that require balance.
Stretching increases flexibility and relaxes tight muscles; it's very safe and quite soothing during pregnancy, even in the third trimester. Yoga is an exercise that focuses on stretching and breathing, so you can practice it during your pregnancy as well. Just make sure you don't overstretch because some hormones produced by your body to ease labor will relax your muscles and lubricate your joints, which puts you at a greater risk of injury.
In moderation, weight lifting is acceptable, as long as you were accustomed to lifting weight prior to pregnancy. Stick with light weight and remember that pregnancy is not a time to try new things. While lifting, make sure you breathe correctly because if you hold your breath with each lift, you could put a lot of pressure on your abdomen. As for your joints, they could be a little more prone to injury, so make sure you find your own pace and avoid heavy weights. Instead of adding more weight, you can increase repetitions to build more power and strength.
This exercise is highly recommended during pregnancy. Exercising the pelvic floor muscles will help you during delivery. These muscles are the same ones used to hold urine. Contract them as tight as you can, hold for a few seconds, and then release and repeat. This same exercise will help you post-pregnancy to prevent losing control over your bladder.
Performing an abdominal workout during the first trimester is safe, but in the second and third trimester, you must avoid lying on your back for a long period of time because it can reduce blood circulation and block blood flow. Any pressure on your abs or back may cause harm, so instead, you can practice planks, pelvic tilts while standing, or seated ab exercises.
Activities to Avoid
Contact sports like football, basketball, and kickboxing are definitely a bad idea anytime during pregnancy for the simple fact that you can accidentally be pushed and shoved, resulting in injury to you and your baby. Also, avoid activities that put you at risk of falling like with skiing, surfing, or horseback riding. No need to mention you must also avoid extreme sports like bungee jumping or scuba diving, or any activity that requires inverting your body upside down.
Important points to remember:
- Stay hydrated during your workout.
- Don't compare your current fitness level to your pre-pregnancy levels. It's normal to do a little less each trimester, so don't exhaust yourself to the point where you need to catch your breath.
- Stop exercising if you experience sharp pain, shortness in breath, dizziness, headache, bleeding, chest pain, contractions, or vaginal fluid leaking.