The Ultimate Guide to Exercise During Pregnancy
Pregnancy is an exciting time for moms to be. During pregnancy, a woman’s body goes through a lot of changes. Her internal organs shift to make room for the developing fetus, her skin changes, and her hormones change drastically. All these changes can have different effects on different women. Pregnant women also face restrictions on things that used to be normal to them, including diet changes and some movement restrictions. Staying active during pregnancy can have a lot of benefits for both the mom-to-be and the baby. Exercise pre-pregnancy and during pregnancy may not look the same, although both have major benefits. While getting into great shape before pregnancy is typically ideal for maintaining fitness during it, there is nothing wrong with starting to exercise during pregnancy. Staying active during pregnancy can help to minimize back pain, improve the delivery process, and will even help you get your body back to normal more quickly postpartum. Check out the ultimate guide to exercise during pregnancy for more information on safe and effective ways to stay fit during pregnancy.
Be consistent in your schedule
Many women typically strive to get exercise three times per week during, but it’s important to talk to your doctor about what is best for you and your pregnancy before scheduling in too many or too few workouts. Pick how often you’re going to be getting exercise, and get into a routine. Getting into a routine makes it easier to start a workout and stay fit. Most people have trouble getting into the routine of exercising multiple times a week because they don’t yet have it scheduled in. Once you put the workout on your schedule, it becomes something you’ve carved out time for and know to expect. During pregnancy, especially further along in it, your energy levels may wain, and the last thing you will want to do it exercise. It can be good for your mental and physical health to keep exercising, so getting into the habit early on in your pregnancy may help you to maintain the habit in later trimesters.
Stretch before and after exercise
After a quick walk to warm up, do a little bit of stretching. Try not to stretch too vigorously before a workout, as this can cause injury if your muscles are still cold. After a workout, you should stretch a bit more than you did pre-exercise because your body should be warm. Stretching before exercising can help loosen your body and make exercise a bit easier. Stretching after exercising can help prevent sore muscles and keep your body from getting stiff. Stretching is beneficial to pregnant women in that it can help reduce muscle soreness and make the labor and birthing process easier. Ask your doctor about the best stretches to do at different points in your pregnancy to prepare for giving birth.
Adjust your workout gear
When you’re exercising before pregnancy, you may have favored tighter clothing to provide support and stay out of your way while doing vigorous exercise. During pregnancy, you may want to try out looser clothing to exercise in. Your workouts won’t be as vigorous during pregnancy as they were pre-pregnancy, so it is unlikely the extra cloth will get in your way. Baggier clothing is more breathable and can keep you more comfortable during exercise while pregnant. Wearing medical-grade compression socks while exercising during pregnancy can help reduce and prevent the foot and lower leg swelling that is extremely common in pregnant women. These support your muscles and encourage your circulatory system to function properly, even under the increased stress pregnancy puts on it.
Change your exercise habits as your pregnancy develops
At different points in your pregnancy, your body can benefit from different types of exercises. While in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, doing a good amount of ab and back workouts can help get your body into shape before the baby grows too large. After the first 20 weeks, it can be better to minimize the ab and back workouts in favor of light cardio and focusing on arms, legs, and flexibility. Talk to your doctor about which exercises are best for your stage of pregnancy and which are potentially harmful. Every pregnancy is unique, just as every woman is. Discuss your pregnancy and goals with your doctor to establish the safest and healthiest plan for your body and your baby’s health before attempting any rigorous exercises.
Take your pregnancy into consideration
Since every pregnancy is different, each will have different requirements and recommendations. If you have a pre-existing medical condition, such as asthma or heart disease, or you are facing a pregnancy-related medical problem, such as preeclampsia, you should avoid aerobic exercises and talk to your doctor. They can recommend the safest exercises for you and your baby—or tell you to avoid exercise entirely during the pregnancy. Always consult your doctor before trying any new regimens or workouts during your pregnancy so they can approve it or recommend an alternative. Your health is a priority always, but it’s especially vital during pregnancy, so consult your medical team before completing an exercise that could be harmful to you or your baby.
Avoid activities that could injure you
While most regular exercise is safe for a healthy individual experiencing a pregnancy without complications, some activities have a large risk of injury. Some of these activities include skiing, horseback riding, and other sports and hobbies where falling is highly likely. Falling while pregnant can cause significant damage to a fetus, so talk to your doctor if you’re an existing patron of a dangerous sport or a sport that may be considered risky. They will able to advise you on the risks of continuing to practice it and what restrictions you may need to follow while doing so.
Exercising during pregnancy can hold many benefits for the mom to be and the developing child. It’s most important to stay safe and healthy during your pregnancy. For any questions you have about exercising routines during this exciting phase of your life, refer to this guide to exercise during pregnancy and, of course, consult your team of healthcare professionals.
- Elyse Aufmann