There are countless benefits to exercising during your pregnancy. Although you might feel like simply getting up is a chore while you’re pregnancy, you should really push yourself to get daily physical activity. Staying fit while pregnant will reduce your risks for serious maternal side effects such as gestational diabetes, and it will keep your baby healthier overall. Babies born to mothers who exercise while pregnant are more fit themselves and have a lower resting heart rate. Exercising during your pregnancy is important, but it’s equally important to understand the risks before you start your regimen.

When you become pregnant, your center of gravity changes, so it’s easier to lose your balance. No matter what type of physical activity you’re getting, you should be cautious of falling. A serious fall could injure you and your baby simultaneously. If you feel especially off-balance, try exercising on a stationary bike or doing exercises that keep you close to the floor.

Additionally, your joint and ligaments are looser when you become pregnant because of the high levels of relaxin. Relaxin is supposed to loosen your body up in preparation for birth, but it also puts you at a higher risk for injury during exercise. You could overestimate the strength of your joints and pull a muscle, so don’t push yourself all the way to your usual limits.

While exercise will help your fetus in the long run, it can also harm your developing baby in the short term if you’re not careful. Especially in the first trimester, it’s important that you keep your baby’s temperature regulated. Sudden increases in temperature have shown associations with birth defects, so don’t overheat yourself during your workout. Too much exercise has also been associated with a decrease in oxygen to the fetus, so you should not exercise for too long.

Finally, if you’re nearing the middle or end of your third trimester, heavy exercise could cause premature contractions and therefore premature labor. Premature labor could negatively affect your baby for the rest of his or her life.

Exercising during your pregnancy is certainly a good way to stay healthy and fit, but you should speak with your health care provider about safe practices before starting your activity regimen. Getting daily exercise is a healthy choice during your pregnancy, but exercising the wrong way could put you and your baby at risk for serious and long-term health consequences.

Source: John Queenan et al: Exercise During Pregnancy: Risks and Benefits. Protocols for High Risk Pregnancies Volume 1 Issue 5 July 2010