Exercise during pregnancy: Is it safe?

For healthy women with normal pregnancies, most exercises are safe, with a few adjustments

Exercise during pregnancy: Is it safe?

Is exercise during pregnancy helpful or harmful for you and baby? This is one of the many questions expectant mothers can face during pregnancy, and everyone has answers. But the conflicting advice you receive from your family, friends, neighbors and coworkers can make it difficult to know if you’re doing the right thing.

Baby, let’s move

According to Kristin Hermanson, M.D., obstetrics and gynecology specialist at Sanford Health, most moms-to-be shouldn’t be afraid to exercise.

“For healthy women with normal pregnancies, most exercises are safe, but a few changes or adjustments may be necessary,” she adds. “Make sure to discuss plans with your health care provider. Together you can determine what is a safe exercise routine for you and your unborn baby.”

Dr. Hermanson generally recommends women be active for about 30 minutes every day. Make sure to keep activity at a moderate or low intensity level. You should be able to carry on a conversation while working out.

In the past, many believed if you weren’t already active, pregnancy wasn’t a good time to start. Dr. Hermanson says this is no longer the case.

“Whether expectant moms are new to exercise or have been active for years, they can reap benefits of exercise during pregnancy,” she says. “Obviously if you don’t have a routine in place, it’s good to start out slowly.”

Benefits for you and baby

Dr. Hermanson says regular exercise during pregnancy can have a positive impact before and after your baby is born.

Benefits may include:

  • Less back pain and constipation
  • Healthy weight gain
  • Less risk of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia
  • Improved overall physical fitness and emotional well-being
  • Potentially easing or even shortening labor and delivery
  • Normal, healthy birthweight for baby
  • A healthier heart for baby

Make smart, healthy choices

When exercising during pregnancy, Dr. Hermanson says there are some extra precautions to remember.

Make sure to drink plenty of water before, during and after workouts,” she says. “It’s very important to stay hydrated.”

It’s also important to not get overheated. When temperatures get warmer and the humidity increases, make sure to exercise in a temperature-controlled room if possible.

“Avoid standing still or lying flat on your back as much as possible,” Dr. Hermanson suggests. “Both positions can decrease the amount of blood returning to your heart and may cause your blood pressure to decrease for a short time.”

Exercises to avoid during pregnancy

Stay away from activities that increase the chance of getting hurt or becoming overheated. They include:

  • Basketball
  • Soccer
  • Water or snow skiing
  • Horseback riding
  • Scuba diving
  • Hot yoga

Safe exercises for mom and baby

There are plenty of ways to safely exercise during pregnancy. Dr. Hermanson recommends choosing from the following:

  • Walking
  • Swimming or water workouts
  • Stationary bicycling
  • Modified yoga or Pilates

If you are an experienced runner or jogger, these are also an option. Remember to discuss any and all activities with your health care professional before beginning.

“Sanford Wellness Center also offers several pregnancy exercise classes,” adds Dr. Hermanson. “With all these options, it’s hard to not find something safe that fits the needs of you and your baby. The goal is to help you and your baby be healthy and strong during and after pregnancy.”

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Posted In Gynecology, Health Information, Healthy Living, Pregnancy, Women's