Pregnancy Information Pregnancy Exercise

An amazing thing happens to women once they become pregnant. Their focus changes from themselves to the baby. The new purpose of “growing a baby” takes over. Special attention is taken to diet and nutrition and creating optimal conditions for this new life. Pregnancy has moved some women to make drastic changes to their own lifestyles for the sake of their baby’s good health, like quitting smoking and becoming more fit with an exercise program.

How Fitness Helps

While exercise offers no specific documented benefits for the baby, fitness does offer benefits to the mother. Pregnant women who exercise have less trouble sleeping, feel less depressed and seem to have less discomfort. They also seem to maintain a healthier weight during pregnancy and lose weight more quickly once the baby has been delivered. Some evidence suggests that women who exercise before and throughout their pregnancy have an easier time in the delivery room.

When to Avoid Exercise

Doctors recommend exercise for women with no pre-existing medical conditions. Women with pregnancy-induced high blood pressure should not exercise. Other conditions like early contractions, vaginal bleeding, and early rupture of the membranes require rest and, therefore, exercise is contraindicated.

Beginning an Exercise Program

Women who have never exercised before and want to begin an exercise program once they become pregnant should consult their doctor. Exercise is a gradual building of the cardiovascular and muscular systems that begins slowly and consistently and builds to higher levels.

Pregnant women can start with exercises like swimming, biking, or walking to build stamina. These exercises are low-impact exercises and considered safe for the developing fetus.

Keeping Exercise Safe

For fit women who have established a routine exercise program before becoming pregnant, some small adjustments may be necessary. While exercise is encouraged throughout pregnancy, intense exercise that leads to exhaustion or breathlessness should be avoided. Most women can continue their exercise program but will need to step it down. This may be a natural process, particularly since pregnancy hormones can cause fatigue.

If team or contact sports are your favorite exercise, you should try something new, like swimming or biking. Contact sports and other forms of exercise can make women prone to injuries. Once you’re pregnant, even small injuries to the abdomen can produce drastic effects. Err on the side of caution when choosing exercise activities. Intense exercise can raise core temperature and can affect fetal development.

Exercising Essentials

These are the basics of exercise during pregnancy:

  • Consult your doctor before beginning a fitness program.
  • Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after exercise.
  • Skip exercise on hot and humid days.
  • Refrain from activities that cause overheating and exhaustion.
  • Limit exercise to low injury sports like swimming and biking

Resources

Beers, M. H.