Exercise in Pregnancy
The benefits of exercising in pregnancy are many and varied. You have a reduced risk of poor pregnancy and birth outcomes, improved pain tolerance, greater physical comfort in pregnancy and a faster postpartum recovery. You may also experience improved body image, shorter labor, lower total weight gain, better cardiovascular health and improved mental health. With regular exercise your baby may find a more optimal position for birth, and you will be better prepared for the hard work of labor. If you decide to join a group of other pregnant folks for exercise (like prenatal yoga or a walking group) you will enjoy the connection of being with people who understand where you are physically and emotionally.
Avoid activities that may cause you to fall like horseback riding, gymnastics, downhill skiing or rock climbing, and activities that may cause you to be hit in the abdomen like soccer, kickboxing, basketball, or hockey. Avoid scuba diving or lying flat on your back after the third month of pregnancy. Be careful not to overheat, and stay hydrated! Invest in a comfortable, supportive sports bra and pair of sneakers. If you experience vaginal bleeding or preterm labor, stop and contact your care provider.
There are so many ways to move your body in pregnancy! Walking, yoga, dance, and swimming are all great prenatal activities that can be done alone or in groups. Swimming has the added benefit of helping you to feel weightless for a while, which can be a great comfort when you are likely carrying more weight than you are used to. Trying a new form of exercise with your partner like a dance class or weekly hiking can give you more time to bond and spend time together with your baby before they are even born!
You don’t need to be intimidated! Just 2.5 hours of moderate exercise a week has immense benefits. Try an activity you think you’ll enjoy, and take it in small steps. Going for a 30-minute walk during your lunch break is a perfect place to start. Enjoy the time getting to know your body in a whole new way. And remember, when you get moving and get your heart rate up, your baby’s heart rate goes up too, so you’re exercising for two!
Resources for further learning: