The general question is ‘Is exercising during Pregnancy safe?’. But that itself is a loaded question – a question loaded to project a negative expectation. So we will turn it on its head and discuss the facts about how working out during pregnancy can actually help you have a healthier baby. Dr.Mansi Ashta, the writer of this curated article is aPhysiotherapist & Fitness Consultant, Child Birth Educator (CBE), Prenatal & Postpartum Exercise Instructor, and Head Faculty ‘Physical Training for Special Populations’ at the prestigious K11 Academy of Fitness Sciences.
2. If you didn’t exercise before you were pregnant, it’s not safe to start now.
3. Exercising while pregnant pulls nutrients from your baby.
4. You have to keep your heart rate at or below 140 beats per minute.
5. Basketball is an unsafe activity while pregnant.
6. Doing sit ups while pregnant will squish the baby.
7. Running while pregnant is unsafe for the baby.
8. Any sign of trouble like spotting or pain means I should stop exercising and not do it any
more during my pregnancy.
MYTH: It’s totally safe to lift weights while pregnant. Make sure you’re not holding your breath, don’t exert yourself to fatigue. Whether you are new to weight training or weight training is already part of your exercise routine, as long as the form & technique is perfect there’s no reason to stop, although you will need to avoid training at higher intensity. Strengthening helps coping with common discomforts of pregnancy like back pain and sacroiliac dysfunction. I had NONE!, thanks to my training routine.
MYTH: Ifyou never excised before, pregnancy is not the time to become the exercise bunny but that doesn’t mean you have to spend nine months sitting on the couch. Something as simple as taking a daily walk, going for a swim, taking up very low intensity strength training can do wonders for your pregnancy, and make you feel better as well. It can also help you combat the fatigue of pregnancy and help you sleep better at night. Ten to fifteen minutes a day is a great beginning, then gradually, progress.
MYTH: The reality is that your baby takes what it needs from your body. So if anything, you’ll have a dip in your own nutrient stores, but your baby’s stores will be fine. The way to avoid any problems for youis to keep blood sugar levels balanced by eating smaller, more frequent meals. Babies of mommies who exercise during pregnancy are born leaner, but organ size and head circumference are normal. So don’t be afraid to exercise during pregnancy.
MYTH: There is no one “target” heart rate that’s right for every pregnant woman. People are still stuck on this heart rate issue, and it was never based on anything concrete. What’s moderate for you might seem easy, or impossibly hard for someone else, so listen to your own body! What most pregnancy exercise experts now rely on as a guide is RPE, or rate of perceived exertion.
This is a scale that determines how hard you are working based on how you feel when you are working, you should be able to carry on a conversation, but not be able to sing.
TRUE: It’s a contact sport, so there’s a risk of a blow to your belly. Other risky activites include those with risk of falling and hurting the belly, like skiing, waterskiing, and horseback riding, or going scuba diving, because of the water pressure effects on your body.
MYTH: Your baby is pretty secure in there, you don’t have to worry about bending at the waist. Not only is it OK, it’s actually recommended!Abdominal workouts can provide many benefits. Some modifications may be necessary with your growing size but it definitely doesn’t warrant stopping them. Your abdominals and your entire core, including your pelvic floorshould be strengthened throughout pregnancy, and doing so will help not only during pregnancy, but also aid in labor and delivery and recovery. I didn’t suffer from Diastasis recti (splitting of abdominal muscle – rectus abdominis from linea alba) and my baby was out in just two pushes.
Moreover,it’s going to help with posture problems which will also benefit you after baby is born.
MYTH: As long as you and your pregnancy are healthy, and you feel OK, it’s safe to run right up until you go into labor. “TheAmerican College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has said that if you were running prior to pregnancy, you can continue during pregnancy, as long as you feel OK”.
If it does start to feel “odd,”listen to your body and don’t do it. Pregnancy is not the time to break any performance records. Also realize that as your pregnancy progresses, you’re going to be able to do a little less with each trimester. So don’t compete with your pre-pregnancy running achievements, or even with what you could accomplish in a previous trimester.
MYTH. While signs of pain, spotting, lightheadedness, nausea or dizziness are all reasons to stop exercising immediately, it doesn’t necessarily mean you will have to give it up forever.
What it means is talk to you doctor. Tell her exactly what you felt and what you were doing when you felt it, how long it lasted, and the severity. And then ask for her advice as to whether or not you should continue with an exercise program.
ACOG lists these warning signs to stop exercising and contact a doctor: vaginal bleeding, fluid leaking from the vagina, decreased fetal movement, uterine contractions, muscle weakness, calf swelling or pain, headache, chest pain, increased shortness of breath, dizziness, or feeling faint.
Always train under supervision of a Prenatal Exercise Instructor.
Physiotherapist & Fitness ConsultantChild Birth Educator (CBE)Prenatal & Postpartum Exercise InstructorHead Faculty ‘PT for Special Population’ – K11 Fitness Academy
1. faq119.pdf. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (ACOG).
2. Fetal Attraction. Dr Duru Shah
3. Exercising Through your Pregnancy. James F Clapp III
4. http://www.runningskirts.com. Susan B Anthony