Now that you’re expecting, you’re ready to put your feet up and rest for the next nine months, right? Not so fast. “Regular exercise while you’re pregnant can improve your heart health, give you energy, and pump up your self-image,” says Frances Crites, MD, an Ob-Gyn at Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. Maintaining a healthy body can also reduce common pregnancy complaints like lower back pain, and it may even shorten your labour time.
Check with your doctor before you start any workout routine to make sure the activities you choose are safe. If she gives you the okay, try to get at least 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise three to four days a week. Remember that your goal is to keep up your pre-pregnancy fitness.
Even if you’ve never exercised a day in your life, a quick stroll around the neighbourhood is a great way to start. You’ll get a cardiovascular workout without too much impact on your knees and ankles, and you can do it almost anywhere and at any time throughout the entire nine months.
Prenatal yoga classes keep your joints limber and help you maintain flexibility. “Also, because yoga strengthens your muscle system, stimulates circulation, and helps you relax, you can use the techniques you practice in class to stay calm and have a little more control during labor,” says Sokhna Heathyre Mabin, a yoga teacher at Laughing Lotus, in New York City.
“This is the ideal form of exercise during pregnancy,” says Baron Atkins, MD, an Ob-Gyn at Arlington Memorial Hospital in Texas. There’s zero chance of falling on your stomach and injuring your baby. Exercising in water gives you better range of motion without putting pressure on your joints.
Lifting weights is a great way to prepare your body for all the heavy lifting you’ll be doing once your baby is here. Plus, it helps counteract the risk of injury during pregnancy by strengthening the muscles surrounding your joints.
According to new research published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, light to moderate exercise 50 to 55 minutes three days a week made those pregnant women 40 percent less likely to gain too much weight. What’s more, obese and overweight women who exercised during their pregnancies were 86 percent less likely to have babies with macrosomia (also known as “Big Baby Syndrome”) than those who didn’t.
When to Stop Your Workout
Any of these symptoms could mean you’ve put too much stress on your body. Stop exercising and call your doctor if you have:
- Vaginal bleeding or leakage of fluids
- Difficult, laboured, or uncomfortable breathing
- Heart palpitations or pain in your chest
- Headache, nausea, or vomiting
- Dizziness or fainting
- Sudden change in temperature, clammy hands, or overheating
- Swelling or pain in your ankles and calves
- Decreased fatal movement
- Blurred vision
- Pain in your abdomen