Pregnancy and Exercise – Important Notes to Consider
When the stick turns blue, you may start to consider all the different things you can do to ensure a healthy pregnancy and baby. There are the obvious tweaks you can make in your lifestyle such as avoiding foods, strenuous activities and heavy work. But many women question whether or not physical exercise is safe to perform during various stages of their pregnancy. Yes, it is safe! AND, you should do it!
Benefits of exercising are listed in our blog, “Exercise During Pregnancy – It’s a Good Idea,” but the big picture is that exercising is beneficial for both you and baby. The CDC recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week while and after you are pregnant. There are, of course, exceptions to this such as high risk pregnancies and other health conditions, in which you should consult your healthcare provider.
Here are things to consider:
Do not exercise and consult your healthcare provider if you have the following:
- Constant, unexplained vaginal bleeding
- Pregnancy of multiples (3+)
- Pre-eclampsia or placenta previa
- Uncontrolled hypertension (high blood pressure), gestational diabetes, or thyroid issues
Be cautious with exercising if you have the following:
- History of pregnancy loss or unexplained preterm birth
- Gestational hypertension
- Twins or multiples > 28 weeks
Stop exercises if you experience the following:
- Shortness of breath, chest pain, or dizziness
- Vaginal bleeding or excessive discharge
If you haven’t exercised before pregnancy, start by going light and progress from there. Keep in mind, while this is an extensive list it is not an inclusive list. If you are ever unsure as to what is safe or not, please consult your primary OB provider.
Now that we know physical exercise is safe and beneficial for pregnant women, we also need to talk about what is considered safe DURING exercise. If you’ve been working out prior to pregnancy, it is safe to continue if you don’t have underlying conditions listed above. There are some exercises you should avoid as your belly grows such as core exercises that require your trunk to flex (i.e., sit-ups, Russian twists, etc.) as well as exercises that require laying flat on your back for long periods of time. You should also consider exercise form for each exercise as your body undergoes physiological and mechanical changes while your baby grows and your body prepares for labor. Specific considerations are broken down by trimester, in our blog “Exercise During Pregnancy – It’s a Good Idea.”
You may also need to modify specific exercises based on how you’re feeling. When exercising, it is important to listen to your body. Other considerations that may require modification of exercises include:
- Gym equipment is hitting your bump
- Pain or pressure in pelvis
- Low back or sacroiliac joint (SIJ) pain
- Leaking or incontinence.
These are also considerations that may warrant a trip to your AzOPT physical therapist. Physical therapists are educated in treating low back and SIJ pain, and they can ensure you are safely performing exercises and general everyday activities with good form and good recruitment of appropriate muscles. Appropriate recruitment of specific muscles will help provide you support throughout your pregnancy as well as recovery during postpartum.
Again, if you are ever hesitant or have questions, always consult your primary OB provider or AzOPT physical therapist.