Once a woman finds out she is pregnant her life instantly changes and she focuses on what is best for the baby. Everything she does from eating, working, and even sleeping, she clears with her doctor to be sure it is safe for the baby. One of the first things that women ask is if it is safe to exercise while pregnant.
You can exercise while pregnant
You should always talk to your doctor before doing anything, but for the most part you can exercise while pregnant. There are a few things you have to consider first though.
- Have you been exercising? Pregnancy is not a time to try new things. If you have not been exercising regularly, now is not the time to start. You can start with something as simple as walking, but if you have not been running, now is not the time to start.
- You will have to adjust your workout routine. There will be exercises you cannot do while you are pregnant because they may be dangerous. You should avoid abdominal workouts such as crunches or situps where you have to lay flat on your back after the first trimester.
- You can be more prone to injuries. During pregnancy your body makes a hormone called relaxin that loosens your joints. This is to help improve the movement and flexibility of your pelvis to allow for the baby to be born, but it will cause increased flexibility in all your joints. Because of this you need to take more caution when working out.
- Pregnancy is not the time to exercise for weight loss. Even if you feel you need to lose weight, pregnancy is not the time to worry about it. Your baby needs all the nutrients it can get to grow and develop properly. When dieting and trying to lose weight your body can be depleted of essential nutrients your baby needs.
- Again, check with your doctor. You have to make sure exercise is safe for you and your pregnancy. If you have problems with your pregnancy you need to make sure that exercise is safe.
Shouldn’t I take advantage of being able to do nothing?
There are still those out there that treat pregnant women like they are fragile. I went through it when I worked during my pregnancy. My manager wanted to make sure I was OK working 12 hour shifts. None of the nurses on the floor would let me push the beds when needed. Even though I worked on labor and delivery and my doctor told my co-workers and manager that I was fine to do these things, they still felt like I should take it easy.
The truth is, there is no reason you cannot workout if your doctor is fine with it. In fact, exercising while pregnant can have it’s benefits.
What are the benefits if I exercise while pregnant?
We all know that there are benefits to exercising when you are not pregnant. Exercising while you are pregnant has even more benefits, and could turn into a lifelong habit of working out.
- Reduce the risks of pregnancy complications. There was a 2012 study that showed pregnant women who exercise while pregnant were less likely to develop gestational diabetes and have unplanned cesarean sections.
- Lower chances of delivery complications. Another study showed that women who exercise while pregnant gained less weight and were also less likely to have large babies, which can increase the chances of having a cesarean delivery.
- Increased chance of going into labor on your own. Being active during pregnancy increases the chance that you will go into labor naturally on your own, which in turn decreases your risk of having an unplanned cesarean delivery.
- Improved chance of a vaginal delivery. Exercising during pregnancy can significantly increase the chances of you having an unassisted vaginal delivery, meaning no forceps or vacuum.
- Faster recovery after delivery. No matter how you deliver, being physically active during pregnancy will help you recover faster after you deliver.
- Improve your mood. Exercising when you are not pregnant can help with depression and anxiety and the same is true in pregnancy because exercise releases endorphins.
- Lower blood pressure. Again, just as exercising when you are not pregnant helps lower your blood pressure, exercising during pregnancy can lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of preeclamsia.
- Help with lower back and pelvic pain. Exercising during pregnancy can help ease lower back and pelvic pain associated with pregnancy. There are even exercises directly targeted toward easing back and pelvic pain during pregnancy.
- Improved energy. It’s no secret that pregnant women often experience increased tiredness during the first trimester and late in the third trimester. Just a nice walk in the park can be enough to get your energy back.
- Improved sleep. As long as you don’t work out too close to bedtime, exercising during pregnancy can help improve your quality of sleep, helping you wake up rested, which can be an issue, especially later in pregnancy.
- Improve constipation. Exercise promotes active bowels and something as simple as a 10 minute walk can help.
- Faster weight loss after delivery. Women who exercise during pregnancy get back to their pre-pregnancy weight faster. This is for many reasons. First off, they likely gained less weight. Second, they heal faster so they feel like moving faster. Lastly, they may have developed a routine that works for them and they may continue to exercise once they feel up to it.
- There are benefits to the baby as well. There have been studies that show exercising during pregnancy lowers the risk of your baby developing diabetes, they have fitter hearts, a lower BMI, and even have a boost to their brain health.
What exercises do I do while I am pregnant?
With all the benefits of exercising while pregnant why wouldn’t you want to workout? The issues is, how do you know what exercises are safe? There are a lot of exercises that are safe to do, even if you haven’t been working out.
- Walk. Walking is something you can do and it doesn’t have to be brisk walking or running. You will start to notice the benefits with just a few casual walks in the park a week. It is also something you can do anywhere.
- Run. Only do this if you have talked to your doctor beforehand. Also, only run if you have been running before you were pregnant.
- Swim. Swimming is great for your joints. It is also great in the third trimester to help get the weight off your feet.
- Prenatal Yoga. If you are a person who loves yoga, prenatal yoga is geared directly at safe moves for pregnant women.
- For additional workouts and exercises check out Parents.