Exercising during a low-risk pregnancy is important to maintain optimal physical health for both mother and child. It can help make the gestation period more manageable and the birthing process run smoother. To ensure that one is medically cleared to engage and to prevent complications with the pregnancy and delivery, consult your ob-gyn before starting an exercise program.
- Before starting an exercise program, here are some risk factors associated with high-risk pregnancies:
- Multiple birth with an elevated risk of pre-term births
- Preterm labor or premature breaking of the water (membrane)
- History of preterm or miscarriages
- Unusual bleeding or spotting
- Preexisting issues with the heart or lungs Elevated risk of pelvic organ prolapse
- Placenta previa
- Severe anemia
Benefits of Exercise
Once a doctor cleared you to exercise here are some benefits:
- Decrease excess weight gain (outside the weight needed for fetal development)
- Decreases stress and helps mood, relaxation, and sleep
- Maintains muscle tone and strength (using the pregnancy as an excuse to be sedentary for months without a medical reason can lead to atrophy of the muscles and more exhaustion)
- Decreases aches and pains, constipation, swelling, and bloating
The best type of exercise regimen to do during pregnancy is 30 minutes almost daily of low-impact moderate intensity physical activities that avoid direct impact on the back and abdomen. Some examples include walking, running, biking, cycling, swimming, and light weight-training. Exercises to avoid include contact sports, high heat activities (hot yoga), any physical activity that requires a lot of balance and coordination or involve altitude change, such as scuba diving (compression sickness) and hiking at high altitudes.
Even with another person growing inside, a common mistake expectant mothers make is to overestimate their caloric needs. The idea that one is “eating for two” can be misleading because one should not be eating for two grown adults. In fact, during the first trimester, there’s no need for extra calories. In the second trimester, only 300-350 extra calories per day is needed for someone at a healthy weight (200 calories for obese individuals). In the last trimester, 500 extra calories per day is needed for someone at a healthy weight (400 calories for obese individuals).Overall, exercise is a beneficial thing during pregnancy. One just needs to make sure to follow up with medical professionals to see what the body needs and to fix any potential problems that may come up.