Exercise should always be an important and vital part of life, not just during pregnancy. Proper exercise can help throughout your pregnancy by reducing pregnancy symptoms and increasing your energy. However, if not done safely and properly, exercise can sometimes cause pregnancy complications. It is important to avoid certain types of exercise and to be aware of all of the dangers that could come along with excess exercising. By keeping these things in mind, exercise can be an integral and fun part of your pregnancy.
Exercises to avoid
Most exercises can be enjoyable and beneficial during pregnancy. Low-impact, low-intensity pregnancy exercises, like walking, yoga, and swimming, can help to keep you fit and healthy. And these activities will not put too much stress on either you or your baby. However, there are certain exercises that you should avoid while you are pregnant. Some of these exercises during pregnancy can be dangerous to both you and your baby's health. Exercises that may be best to put off for the next nine months of your pregnancy include:
- Exercises that are of high-intensity, such as marathon running and cycling, or high-impact aerobics.
- Contact sports, such as football, ice hockey, and wrestling.
- Racket sports.
- Any activity where you could be hit in the abdomen.
- Activities that could cause you to fall, such as rollerblading, outdoor cycling, rock climbing, or horseback riding.
- Activities performed at high altitudes, including downhill skiing and climbing.
- Scuba diving: There is limited available information as to the effect of this activity on pregnancy and for that reason, it is strongly discouraged.
After the first trimester, activities performed on your back should also be avoided. This is because the weight of your baby could compress an artery, resulting in restricted blood flow. Closer to the third trimester, activities involving vigorous jumping or jarring movements should also be stopped. Also, try to avoid exercises that require you to change directions suddenly and frequently. This could put extra stress on your joints and muscles.
Exercising at the right pace
Once you have chosen the right type of exercise for you, it is important that you get up to speed on exercise safety. Safe exercising is always important, but it is especially important now that you are pregnant. You will find that, because your body is changing, you may not be able to do the same types of exercises you once could. You may also find that you tire faster, sweat more, or get out of breath sooner. If you push too hard, you may also risk some pregnancy complications.
- Start slowly: Even if you have been an avid athlete in the past, it is important to start exercising slowly during pregnancy. Start with just a few minutes a day and then gradually increase your exercise to a maximum of 30 minutes a day.
- Don't overdo it: Pregnancy is not a good time to try to prepare for a marathon or the Olympics. It is also not the time to try to achieve personal bests or run that four-minute mile. Keep your exercise at a low or moderate intensity and only exercise for 30 minutes at a time.
- Keep cool: Make sure that you don't become overheated. If you get too warm during your pregnancy, it could contribute to fetal development problems, particularly in the first trimester. So avoid exercising in hot or humid weather and wear light, breathable clothing.
- Stay hydrated: It is important to stay hydrated during pregnancy. Drink lots of water while you are exercising to prevent becoming dehydrated, even if you don't feel thirsty.
- Monitor yourself: Monitor your heart rate and pulse while you are working out. Make sure that your heart rate doesn't exceed 140 beats per minute since your baby's heart rate increases along with yours.
Signs you should stop exercising
It is a good idea to be familiar with any danger signs that could arise during exercise. If you feel sick or are experiencing any of the following warning signs, stop exercising and go to the hospital or call your doctor immediately.
- A sudden or severe headache
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Chest pain
- Swelling in your hands, feet, or face
- Deep back or pelvic pain
- Contractions that last longer than 30 minutes
- Vaginal bleeding
- Leakage of amniotic fluid
- Change in the movement of your baby
Who should not exercise?
Some women should not exercise during their pregnancies, either due to health problems or pregnancy complications. It is important that you consult with your healthcare provider before trying any type of exercise. Be especially careful about exercising if you:
- Have a heart condition
- Have lung disease
- Are pregnant with multiples
- Have experienced preterm labor
- Have experienced frequent bleeding during pregnancy
- Have hypertension
- Have placenta previa
Sports and Activities Guide
Swimming During Pregnancy