When you become pregnant one big question comes to your mind is “Can I exercise?” In most cases, the answer is yes! In the past, it used to be common for healthcare practitioners to tell newly pregnant women they were not allowed to exercise. It was quickly discovered that there were a lot more benefits to exercising as compared to not exercising. Exercising and being active during pregnancy benefits not only mom but baby also!
There are several things to keep in mind while exercising and being active during pregnancy. We have broken it down for everyone.
Table of Contents
7 Things to Know While Exercise during Pregnancy
1. Warm Up
Warming up before exercising is always important, but even more critical when pregnant. Just like before pregnancy, if you do not warm up, you may experience aches and pains after a workout. Pregnant women will definitely experience these aches and pains if they do not warm up. When pregnant, your body is growing and changing. It is important to ease into activity and exercise.
2. Heart Rate
Heart rate is a common thing that comes up when discussing exercise during pregnancy. Women will hear different target heart rates from different sources, but a common heart rate that is most commonly given is 140. It is not recommended to get your heart rate over 140. During the first trimester, most women are usually tired and do not have much energy; so staying at this heart rate is easy. Some women have no change in energy and can exert themselves much more. It is important for you to discuss this with your healthcare provider and come up with a target heart rate that makes everyone feel comfortable.
3. Mood Swings
When you become pregnant your hormones are going haywire! One moment you may be sad and depressed, nauseous, stressed, and so on, only for that to change in the next moment. Exercising brings out those good and happy endorphins! Getting outside and being active can greatly improve your mood.
4. Exercises to Avoid
Deciding what exercises to avoid will vary between each person. If you are very active and work out routinely, there will be less to avoid. Most commonly, you can continue to do what you have been doing. There are women who still run marathons, lift heavy weights and more while pregnant. The most important thing is for you to listen to your body. If you feel something is too much, hurts, or just feels “off”, you need to cut back. There are certain activities and exercises that should be avoided while pregnant such as scuba diving, horseback riding, mountain biking, skiing, or any contact sport that may cause trauma to the abdomen.
Yes, eating fits into exercising while pregnant. If you are regularly exercising while pregnant, you are burning calories. It is very important for you to make up for those calories by eating healthy, lots of fruits and veggies, and high protein foods. Even though you may think you do not need those extra calories, your baby does!
6. WATER, WATER, WATER
Water is extremely, extremely important while pregnant. Not only is it important if you are lying around all day, it is even more important if you are active and exercising. Staying hydrated keeps the body temperature low while exercising, reduces aches and pains, and will help prevent contractions.
7. Do Not Lie Flat on Your Back
This is not a very common thing women may know about, but they may recognize it when they begin to workout, after discovering they are pregnant. When pregnant women lie flat on their backs, this position can put pressure on their vena cava. What is the vena cava? It is a major vein that provides blood to your heart and brain. If you lie on your back flat, it may cause you to feel dizzy, nauseous, and have shortness of breath.
Look into Prenatal Exercise Classes
Although you are usually able to continue your normal exercise routine, it may be beneficial for you to research and find a prenatal exercise class. This may also be beneficial for women who have not been exercising prior to pregnancy but want to stay active. Prenatal exercise classes are modified for pregnancy and the instructors have a special certification to teach prenatal classes. The fitness instructors are knowledgeable of the woman’s pregnant anatomy and know the best techniques and positions for healthy exercise. It is also a great place to meet other pregnant mamas and connect!
When to Slow Down
In the first trimester, you may be able to workout like you did before pregnancy. As your pregnancy continues changes may need to be made to your fitness plan. Listening to the body is number one, but here are some things to watch for to know when to scale back:
Feeling a little fatigue after exercising is okay, but if you cannot recover like before, it may mean you need to start scaling a bit back.
- Joint or muscle pain
Joint and muscle pain comes with the “being pregnant” package, but it may increase even more if you are exercising too much. Any sharp pains or aches that are not going away after a day or so after working out, cut back.
4 Reasons to STOP Exercising
The number one reason to stop exercising would be if your healthcare practitioner has told you to do so, but there are also some other factors to look for.
- If you have been diagnosed with preeclampsia or any other form of pregnancy-related high blood pressure.
- Cervical problems.
- Vaginal bleeding.
- Lots of swelling.
If any of these symptoms arise or anything else that may be abnormal, stop exercising, and let your practitioner know immediately.
Exercising while pregnant is not only great for you but also for your baby. It boosts your energy and mood levels, help you sleep better, prevents excess weight gain, and may help and ease the pain when you go into labor. It is important for to have an open communication with your healthcare provider about what your exercise routine is and if any changes are happening. This open communication allows your healthcare practitioner to catch anything early before you hurt yourself or your baby.