Did you know that research shows it is safe and recommended to continue or even start a new exercise routine during your pregnancy? Exercise has been shown to provide many benefits to pregnant women and their babies. Even those who have previously been inactive can introduce exercise and achieve benefits!
Current Recommendations for Exercise During Pregnancy
Current American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology guidelines recommend 150 minutes of aerobic activity per week for pregnant women who are without contraindications. Activities should be performed at a level of intensity that allows you to still carry on a conversation while remaining active or at a “moderate” level of intensity. Research shows only 16% of pregnant women currently follow these guidelines and many expecting mothers decrease their activity level throughout pregnancy.
Exercise Safety During Pregnancy
You should consult with your physical therapist or physician to determine if exercise is safe for you. You should not perform exercise besides walking if you have signs and symptoms such as: restrictive lung disease, severe anemia, persistent second or third trimester bleeding, or other symptoms that are listed in the ACOG Committee Opinion 650.
Activities During Pregnancy
There are many different activities you can perform while pregnant! Your exercise routine may need to be modified to fit the changes of your pregnancy but the following exercises could be safe to try:
Walking or jogging
Core and pelvic floor strengthening
Hip, gluteal, and low back strengthening
Stability ball exercises
Consult with a PT to determine which exercises can be most beneficial to you. Pregnant women have been shown to be most successful with a specific and supervised exercise routine that they are likely to continue to perform long term.
There are specific activities you should avoid during pregnancy. These include:
Laying on your back past the first trimester
Exercising in a hot, humid environment without enough water
High impact activities (contact sports, sports with risk of falling, etc.)
Holding your breath during activity
Benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy
There are many potential benefits to performing regular, structured exercise throughout your pregnancy. These can include:
Decreased low back or pelvic pain
Improved feelings of energy and decreased fatigue
Decreased risk for cesarean delivery
Prevention of excessive maternal and fetal weight gain
Lower risk of preeclampsia and gestational diabetes
Shorter hospital stays
Do you have questions about exercise during your pregnancy? Consult with a pelvic floor physical therapist to answer any questions or if you are interested in beginning a routine, updating your current routine, or have any pain limiting your function during pregnancy.
Jesse McGown, SPT